The Berlinale Film Festival has renamed its top award, the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize, after a report surfaced that accused the festival’s first director and the prize’s namesake of Nazi ties, the festival announced Tuesday.
The festival will now award a special prize named The Silver Bear 70th Berlinale, in honor of the 70th anniversary of the film festival. It will similarly be awarded by the International Jury.
Late last month, the Berlinale suspended the Silver Bear prize after an article in the German newspaper Die Zeit said Bauer played a previously unknown role in the Nazi film bureaucracy and engaging in National Socialist film politics.
The Berlinale then hired external historians to conduct an investigation into Bauer’s role during the Nazi era and commissioned the “Institute for Contemporary History” (IfZ). The IfZ was founded in 1949 to academically research the National Socialist dictatorship.
“We are convinced that an external and independent group of historians should investigate Alfred Bauer’s position in the Nazi regime,” Berlinale executive director Mariette Rissenbeek said in a statement. “Moreover, we also agree on this with the Deutsche Kinemathek, which supports this approach. Accordingly, we are pleased that the IfZ can now initiate the necessary research work.”
Bauer was the festival’s first director between 1951 to 1976. He died in 1986 and the prize was named in his honor the following year.
The results of the IfZ assessment are expected in the coming summer.
The European Film Market and the Berlinale Film Festival kick off this week and run through March 1.