Grußwort by the U.S. Cultural Attaché
on the occasion of the XXXth Black International Cinema Berlin
May 4-9, 2015

This year, the Black International Cinema Berlin festival takes place in a special spotlight as it celebrates its 30th anniversary. For six days, it will not only entertain, but also elate and educate the public under the slogan “30 Times After Time - Visuals To Improve Reality!” On behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations: Happy 30th birthday!

What better movie to ignite this film festival than A Man Without Limits? In 30 minutes it tells the story of Europe’s first Black International Cinema festival – in Berlin in 1986 – and as such it also documents the beginnings of Black American culture in Germany. Saying It Loud: Radio Giving Voice to Black America presents a cultural history on the emergence and development of Black radio. It shows how Black radio gave voice to the ideas and aspirations of Black Americans from the early days of the Civil Rights movement or the Black Power movement up to Jesse Jackson’s initial presidential campaign. In the narrative This Was My Son, Mike Wiley compiles an historic American Civil Rights heroine’s interviews: those of Mamie Till, whose 14-year-old son became a victim of segregation in 1955 Mississippi.

2015 started as a great year for Black cinema. Ava DuVernay’s historical drama Selma celebrated its international premiere at the 64th Berlinale. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and eventually won an Oscar for “Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures.” Set during the height of the American Civil Rights movement in 1965, the movie depicts the historic marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to the capital of Montgomery, Alabama, to secure voting rights for Black people. In his remarks on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of these marches on March 7, 2015, President Obama – with the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the background – commemorated this defining moment of history, and highlighted that the Americans, who crossed this bridge gave courage to millions and, at the same time, that “Selma taught us that our work is never done.” In the United States, Selma is already serving as a bridge to a long-overdue conversation on race, inequality, and injustice. It conveys Dr. Martin Luther King’s belief that nonviolent political campaigning and civil disobedience can make a difference, no matter where you live. Today, some 50 years after these historic marches, societies around the world have made great progress. But we still see discrimination, intolerance, and hatred. As Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski has stated, “Americans do not pretend that our community is perfect. Rather, our history is one of striving – a striving for equal opportunity, justice, and respect of every race, creed, and social status, and for, in the words of our Constitution, a more perfect union.” And as President Obama said in his March 7 speech, “the march has not yet come to an end.”

Dr. King’s example inspired women and men around the world and gave them the courage to refuse the limitations of the day and fight for the prospect of tomorrow. He would have been the first to say that the Civil Rights movement, in which he played such a vital role, depended on the women and men whose names never appear in the history books – those, who through countless acts of quiet heroism and civil courage, helped bring about changes few thought were ever possible. You will learn about some of those people in this year’s Black International Cinema festival.

Katharina Göllner-Sweet
U.S. Cultural Attaché

"I may not make it if I try, but I damn sure won´t if I don´t..." - Oscar Brown Jr.
"Mankind will either find a way or make one." - C.P. Snow
"Whatever you do..., be cool!" - Joseph Louis Turner
"Yes, I can...!" - Sammy Davis Jr.
"Yes, We can...!" - Barack Obama


Supporters and Associates

Checkpoint Charlie Stiftung Mediawave Festival United Against Racism
Euromight - Your Guide to Afro-Europe Tulip Photo African Women in Europe Embassy of the United States of America, Berlin/Germany Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Wave - International Youth Web Magazine