Photo: Kay Herschelmann

Peter Dinges

President of German Federal Film Board

Everything stays different. Or is “different” the new normal?

I hope not. Once again this year, we are sadly denied the opportunity to celebrate European cinema in front of, on and behind a stage. We won’t now be able to attend a show that would have surely been as glamorous, entertaining and moving in the Berlin Arena as the one held two years ago at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, die Freie Volksbühne, as they call it here.

Although … strictly speaking, we will indeed be able to attend the show, it just won’t be live, but, as so often now, as a stream, with us sitting comfortably on the couch at home. As much as it pains us to leave the tuxedo or that little black number in the wardrobe and swap it again for the good old tracksuit, one has to keep one thing in mind: at least it is taking place at all! And I have complete trust in the Academy being able to create a worthy virtual replacement again this year.

In fact, this also goes some way to illustrating what it’s really all about, apart from the glamour and the often very convivial get-togethers: it’s all about European cinema, its art, its diversity, its aesthetics, its protagonists – and, not least of all, its values: human dignity, freedom, democracy, and equality. Pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity. Values which – especially in fragile times – are being called into question by forces that are gaining strength.

In response, we have our films that explore those values from different perspectives, across borders, weaving them into their stories and seeing them, as it were, through the eyes of their respective countries. That is one of the attractions of European cinema in its boundless diversity. The European Film Awards allow us to showcase – even if only in excerpts – the richness and diversity of European cinema.

That is what really matters.

I hope that all the wonderful films are not only seen by us in excerpts but can also be watched by the people of Europe – in the cinemas!
Thanks to a lot of state support and the unconditional will to survive, the cinemas have mastered the previous waves and will also overcome this new gigantic wave. We must continue to support them in this, and I therefore appeal to all those responsible authorities in Europe: don’t abandon the cinema! For it is one of the few places where our history and stories are told and continue to be written.

I wish you all an entertaining evening and good luck to the nominees of the 34th European Film Awards.