Since its formation in 1966, the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation, a private institution, has been promoting the maintenance and retention of a large proportion of German film recordings. Making its unique archives publicly accessible has become increasingly important over the years and will be the major focus in the coming years. The most important asset of the foundation is its film records which include copies of former production companies such as Ufa, Universum-Film, Bavaria, Terra, Tobis and Berlin-Film – along with their associated rights – from over six decades of German film production.
Task and aims
No other medium had a greater influence on the 20th century or documented it more comprehensively and authentically than film. However, no other medium was as susceptible to becoming lost: the corruption, destruction and disintegration of the material have already sustained lasting damage on large parts of German film heritage. The Murnau Foundation has the aim of ensuring this cultural film heritage is kept, restored or reconstructed and then made available to the public.
In addition to their everyday work of maintaining archive stock, consultations, research and lending films, the work of the foundation involves restoration projects. One ongoing project is the digitalisation of the foundation's film archives to ensure that they remain available for public showings in future.
Archives and films
The stock is rich in historical and cultural significance and encompasses the beginning of moving pictures to the start of the 1960s and holds 2000 silent films, 1000 films with sound and around 3000 short films, adverts and documentaries. This includes the films of important directors such as Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Detlef Sierck, Helmut Käutner and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, after whom the foundation was named.
Among the most famous film titles in the collection are Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari [The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari] (1919/20), Der Blaue Engel [The Blue Angel](1929/30), Die Drei von der Tankstelle [The Three from the Filling Station] (1930), Münchhausen (1942/43), Große Freiheit Nr. 7 [Great Freedom No. 7] (1943/44).
Short film prize
The Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation short film prize is intended to promote the work of young film-makers. Awards are presented to short feature films, documentaries and animations, with prize money of € 2000 per film. The Murnau short film prize is one of the most prestigious awards of its kind in Germany, as it is relevant for the German Federal Film Board short film promotion scheme. Since 1995 award winners have included Pepe Danquart, Tyson Montgomery, Jochen Alexander Freydank, Fatih Akin and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
German Film House in Wiesbaden
The Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation has been running the German Film House in a central location in the state capital of Hesse – Wiesbaden. The institute offers facilities for promoting film culture as well as providing premises for special cinema interest groups and for film and media companies. The modern office and event complex also houses the Murnau cinema theatre where films are shown to the public and a multi-function area where numerous events and exhibitions are held.