Announcing the first "West German Educational Film Festival” 1954
Short film is still the most important source of film renewal, the experimental field on which future film languages are formed. Today, the diversity of forms, themes and approaches is greater than ever. Feature film or essay, installation, thesis film or artist's film, music video, animation, documentary and all conceivable hybrid forms are emerging all over the world and increasingly online on numerous platforms.
The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen has been moving in this field of tension for over 60 years; it is a catalyst and showcase for current developments, a forum for often controversial discussions, a discoverer of new trends and talents and, last but not least, one of the most important short film institutions worldwide. Oberhausen is the oldest short film festival in the world and the largest festival in North Rhine-Westphalia, with around 7,000 films submitted each year, approximately 500 films in the festival programme and over 1,100 accredited professional visitors annually.
Countless filmmakers and artists, from Roman Polanski to Cate Shortland, from George Lucas to Eija-Liisa Ahtila, have presented their first works here. Important political and aesthetic developments were initiated by the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, such as the Oberhausen Manifesto, perhaps the most important group document of German film.
For years, the Festival has also enjoyed an excellent reputation in the art scene, which has discovered short films and videos for itself. The equal treatment of video in the competitions since the late 1980s, the ongoing preoccupation with commercial and industrial film and the introduction of MuVi, the world's first festival prize for music videos from Germany, at the end of the 1990s or its own film submission platform are considered absolutely trend-setting and innovative.
In 2020, due to the Corona pandemic, Oberhausen conducted the festival completely online for the first time. With over 2,500 festival passes sold and users in almost 100 countries, the new format proved to be a surprise success.
"Historically, Oberhausen is the most important short film festival in the world." Alexander Horwath
"Short film is a great first step for a budding filmmaker. That's how I made my beginnings and Oberhausen was an important step on my path to become a Director." Roman Polanski
"I smoked my first cigarette here. For years, I saw every single film at the Westdeutsche Kurzfilmtage, looking forward to those days in Oberhausen every year. These events were important for me, for my decision to become a filmmaker." Wim Wenders
"I'll never forget how Charles Petit, Karl Bartos and I wrote our award statements, pounding the computer keys with six hands in the middle of the night. There were a few gems among the award winners." Pipilotti Rist
"The short film over the course of the 20th century has evolved in so many different directions that it's really hard to think of it as a unified medium anymore. That's why I love the Oberhausen Festival - it celebrates the kind of radical evolution that short film has gone through in the blink of an eye. (...) 54 years is a long time in the film world! It's amazing to me that Oberhausen has been able to chart its course in the turbulent waters of our information age with such dedication to the new spirit of film that it shows each year. Kudos!!" Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid
The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen was founded in 1954, which makes it the oldest short film festival in the world. We have compiled the most important dates and events of our more than 60-year history as a downloadable pdf file - or you can scroll through a small gallery of selected images from 1954 to the 21st century.
Announcing the first "West German Educational Film Festival” 1954
Street scene in Oberhausen with advertising for the 4th West German Educational Film Festival 1958
Alexander Kluge (at the lectern) and the signatories of the Oberhausen Manifesto at the press conference held when the Manifesto was announced
Cover of the French spy thriller “Festival à Oberhausen” by Paul Buisine and Léopold Massiera, published in 1963
Werner Herzog at the reception desk of the Luise Albertz Halle during the 12th West German Short Film Festival
The turbulent press conference held after Hellmuth Costard‘s Besonders wertvoll was excluded from the programme of the 13th West German Short Film Fetival. Hellmuth Costard at the table left (with cigarette), Hilmar Hoffman at the microphone.
Catherine David (centre), member of the International Jury of the 46th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, with Abderrahmane Sissako, member of the jury, left, and Tijen Olcay, jury secretary
Charlotte Roche hosts the second MuVi Award ceremony at the 46th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.
Mike Mills, whose "The Architecture of Reassurance" won a Principal Prize in the 2000 International Competition and who had two other works in the festival that year, in Oberhausen.
The MuVi Jury 2003: Clip director Floria Sigismondi, writers Holger Liebs, Thomas Meinecke
Christoph Schlingensief and Romuald Karmakar at the opening of the 50th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen
The MuVi Jury 2004: musician and former member of Kraftwerk, Karl Bartos, artist Pipilotti Rist, music producer Charles Petit
Crowded cinema at the 61st International Short Film Festival Oberhausen
Facts and Figures
Founded in 1954 and thus the world's oldest short film festival
Oldest German short film competition
First festival music video award: the MuVi Award for the best German Music Video (since 1999)
Since 1999, media partnerships with ARTE and 3sat
On average 7,000 submissions from almost 100 countries for the competitions per year
Some 500 contributions in about 100 festival programmes
Some 1,100 accredited guests from around the world
About 100 press representatives accredited annually; coverage on average in more than 20 countries
Prizes worth a total of over 51,000 € (online and on-site)
Video Library with annually roughly 7,000 films on offer
A unique short film archive with more than 2,000 titles
Non-commercial short film distribution
A good 40 Festival publications on film-related subjects in addition to the festival catalogue
Accredited by the Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films (FIAPF) since 1960
Cooperation with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Founding member of the AG Kurzfilm
Founding member of the AG Filmfestival
Fernando Birri, Jerzy Bossak, John Grierson, Bert Haanstra, Hilmar Hoffmann
On 28 February 1962, at the 8th West German Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, 26 West German filmmakers proclaimed the Oberhausen Manifesto. This moment marked a milestone in the development of German cinema – never before, and never again, would a break with existing production conditions be demanded, and induced, with such vehemence.
The 26 signatories of the Oberhausen Manifesto claimed nothing less than the licence to create the new German feature film. An essential component of the Oberhausen Declaration was the demand for the provision of production conditions that would make it possible to put an end to the lethargy in which German film found itself at the beginning of the 1960s. The consequences of the manifesto can hardly be underestimated: In the wake of the declaration, German film funding was established for the first time, without which the New German Cinema and its worldwide success would probably not have existed.
In 2012, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen dedicated an international project to the Manifesto with "Provoking Reality - 50 Years of the Oberhausen Manifesto". Almost 40 films by the signatories were restored and conserved through a cooperation between the Short Film Festival, the German Federal Film Archive and the German Cinematheque - Museum of Film and Television. In addition, the book publication Provoking Reality. The Oberhausen Manifesto and Its Consequences. The anthology contains largely unknown texts by Theodor W. Adorno, Alexander Kluge and Uwe Nettelbeck, among others, as well as a series of topical essays and conversations. A double DVD in the series "Edition Filmmuseum" contains almost 20 titles from the years 1957 to '65, among others by Peter Schamoni, Herbert Vesely, Edgar Reitz, Christian Doermer, as well as extensive bonus material.