The Story of Babelsberg

From the Birthplace of Film to the Media City

More than 100 years ago, the history of film began in Babelsberg with the establishment of the world's oldest film studio. Here, Asta Nielsen – the biggest movie star of her time – made her first film appearance in "Der Totentanz" (1912), a runaway success with audiences. Technological innovations quickly changed film production. In the early 1920s, the "unchained camera" technique enabled perspective changes. In 1929, "Melodie des Herzens" marked the advent of sound film.

Babelsberg is still a magical place and, same as the countless films that were made here, reflects historical evolution. After the period of warmongering silent films produced during World War I, Fritz Lang created his epic science fiction drama "Metropolis", which is part of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register today. The UFA era brought splendor and glamour to Babelsberg and saw actors and actresses such as Zarah Leander, Heinz Rühmann, Marlene Dietrich, and Hans Albers rise to international stardom. And yet, Babelsberg also stands for numerous dehumanizing films made on behalf of the Nazi government's Ministry of Propaganda.

In the post-war years, film production was resumed quickly under Soviet administration as films had become important tools of propaganda. May 1946 saw the official establishment of Deutsche Film AG (DEFA). In the period between the first post-war film "Die Mörder sind unter uns" (1946) and 1990, some 1,240 feature and television films representing different artistic and political perspectives were made in Babelsberg. The impact of the division of Germany on everyday life provided inspiration for seminal cinematic works such as Konrad Wolf's "Der geteilte Himmel" (1964) that, however, soon fell victim to the rigid film censorship regulations developed during the 11th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party. "Die Legende von Paul und Paula" quickly became an iconic film. "Jakob der Lügner" (1976) was the only East German picture ever to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Everything I had to know about filmmaking I learned in Babelsberg.

Alfred Hitchcock (1899 - 1980)

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the German reunification in the early 1990s marked the beginning of a new era and saw the birth of the Media City. Covering an area of 46 hectares, today's Babelsberg is home to 16 film studios and 100 businesses with a total of some 1,750 staff members. With companies specializing in feature, TV, and animated film production, stunt services, special effects, postproduction, advertising, large format printing, high-tech, and IT as well as radio and TV stations, Babelsberg is a globally unique network of experts that also includes research, education, and training institutions.

Feature, animated, and documentary films as well as TV series and digital formats are produced in Babelsberg – from perennial favorites of German audiences like "Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten" or "Schloss Einstein" to international blockbusters such as "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay", "The Monuments Men", "Bridge of Spies", "Men in Black", "Anonymous", or "Grand Budapest Hotel", winner of four Academy Awards. Countless renowned filmmakers, actors, and actresses have worked in Babelsberg, including Steven Spielberg, Roman Polanski, George Clooney, and Cate Blanchett. The Film University educates young talent right at the center of – and also for – this fascinating film hub.

Visit the following websites for more information about companies and activities in the media city.