Wieland Speck, who heads up the Panorama section at the Berlin Film Festival, talks about 30 years on the job.
Panorama’s section head Wieland Speck has two good reasons to celebrate at this year’s Benale.
For a start, the Teddy Awards, the Berlinale Queer Film Prize, will be staged for the 25th time, at a new venue in the main hall of the former Tempelhof Airport.
‘I have wanted to go there for ages and now it’s worked out,” says Speck, adding that Berlin’s Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit had used his influence behind the scenes to make this possible.
‘How the Teddy Awards has evolved is a dream come true,” Speck continues. “We have managed to create a stable place which is very important for many countries where stability is far from being reality. They experience this feeling here like the one I had when I was in San Francisco in 1977 and living in the gay quarter. I went out into the street and thought: ‘I belong to this world.’ That is something which is very valuable.”
It is also Speck’s 30th Berlinale since joining the Panorama in 1982 as the assistant to Manfred Salzgeber. In 1992, he took over running the Panorama and built the section into a “must-see” component of every Berlinale.
“We have always been a step ahead or hand in hand with the zeitgeist with our programming,” he explains. “And the symbiosis of this festival with a city like Berlin gives you that special character which makes one want to carry on.”
Asked to pick out the highlights in the past 30 years, Speck says: “I am not a highlight type because I tend to subsume everything in my general enthusiasm. But we definitely had the loudest screaming when Madonna came [with Filth & Wisdom] in 2008. That was the only time in these 30 years when Budapester Strasse in front of the Zoopalast had to be completely closed off by the police!”