San Francisco’s Berlin & Beyond Film Festival
Now in its 28th season, the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival continues to be a leading light of contemporary German cinema exhibition in the Americas, by both audience size and programming scope. Over 500 motion pictures from German-speaking countries, produced in over 30 different countries, have screened at Berlin & Beyond to over 200,000 attendees, from independent works to studio pictures to topical documentaries and shorts from the filmmakers of tomorrow.
November 7-8, 2023: 8th Berlin & Beyond Autumn Showcase
March 2024: 28th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival
2023 Festival Recap
The 27th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival took place March 23-25 and 28, 2023 at the historic Roxie Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District, March 24th at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco, March 26th virtually, and March 27th at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood. Read more about the official selection of films and view the schedule.
The 2023 festival opened with Marten Persiel’s spellbinding environmental docu-fiction “Everything Will Change” with lead actor Noah Saavedra in person at both the SF Opening and the Berkeley Encore. Closing Night was the very special 35 mm projection of this year’s 4-time Academy Award® winner, “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Youth 4 German Cinema (Y4GC) celebrated 10 years. The 2023 Y4GC winner was the alternate universe sci-fi “The Ordinaries,” joined by actor Noah Tinwa. Other film highlights included: the North American premiere of Fatih Akin’s “Rhinegold,” diving into German hip hop culture and Xatar’s life journey; the wondrous world of “Werner Herzog – Radical Dreamer”; Goethe Forum’s presentation of “Piaffe” – a visceral journey into control, gender, and artifice; Barbara Kulcsar’s post-retirement relationship comedy “Golden Years” from Switzerland with screenwriter Petra Volpe in person. Celebratory and convivial social events included: Opening Night Party on March 23rd at 518 Valencia, sponsored by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in San Francisco and Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America; the Swiss Reception on March 25th at Arcana, sponsored by the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco; the East Bay Reception on March 27th at Graduate Berkeley, sponsored by the Excelsior German Center.
2022 Festival Recap
The 2022 festival took place in four venues in three cities – the legendary Castro Theatre in San Francisco, the arthouse cinemas Aquarius in Palto Alto, the Shattuck in Berkeley, and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Berlin & Beyond 26 welcomed over 3,500 people in attendance. We rolled out the red carpet to welcome to San Francisco renowned actor Peter Kurth (“Next Door”), actor Haley Louis Jones (“Precious Ivie”), director Laura Lehmus (“Sweet Disaster”), director Michael Steiner (“And Tomorrow We Will Be Dead”), actor Doguhan Kabadayi (“Wet Dog”), and Academy Award nominated director and San Franciscan Jay Rosenblatt (“When We Were Bullies”). The 9th edition of Youth 4 German Cinema: welcomed an international jury from the US, Canada, and Mexico and showed two films for free to 400 visiting middle school and high school students.
In the local arts community, it is a highly anticipated film event in San Francisco. Berlin & Beyond was founded in 1996, within the globally minded mission of the Goethe-Institut San Francisco, which has been promoting German culture and language since 1967. Both the institute and the film festival continuously build on the long-standing relationships and partnerships with community, civic, and business partners and sponsors – and the audience.
The festival is an annual tradition for San Francisco, and has been a gateway for the American public to experience the diversity, history and progress of German-speaking countries; while celebrating the universal spirit and vision of filmmakers from this global region.
Red Carpet International Film Festival
We have welcomed many celebrated filmmakers and screen talents, including Mario Adorf, Fatih Akin, Moritz Bleibtreu, Daniel Brühl, Doris Dörrie, Andreas Dresen, Lars Eidinger, Hannelore Elsner, Bruno Ganz, Juliane Köhler, Frederick Lau, Christiane Paul, Maria Schrader, Tom Schilling, Barbara Sukowa, Dan Stevens, Michael Verhoeven, Simon Verhoeven, Wim Wenders and Ronald Zehrfeld.
Since its inauguration in 1996, the main venue of the festival was mostly the Castro Theatre, San Francisco’s famous movie palace, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2022.
Berlin & Beyond strives to be an open public forum that highlights the diversity, progress, and trends from the current cinematic landscapes of German-speaking countries. Our diverse programming captures dynamic stories that connect global and societal conversations, timely topics, insightful ideas, inspiring entertainment, and courageous cinematic art.
Amidst this global pandemic, Berlin & Beyond reimagined its presentation through the virtual festival, Berlin & Beyond in Focus, that took place November 19-21, 2020. Visit the In Focus website.
The 25th Anniversary Berlin & Beyond Film Festival ran May 25-June 6, 2021 in the hybrid format with drive-in cinema at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, the virtual platform, and a soft reopening (amidst the pandemic) of the Vogue Theatre.
The Berlin & Beyond Autumn Showcase 2021 took place November 15-17 in three Bay Area cities.
Board of Directors
Noémie Njangiru, President
Dennis M. Sullivan, Secretary
Berlin & Beyond Director
The Goethe-Institut is comprised of 157 institutes in 98 countries. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017, the San Francisco branch has been promoting German culture and language since 1967. In addition to its presentation of the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, its year-round cultural activities include art exhibitions, weekly film screenings, annual events with local cultural institutions and period social gatherings. The Goethe-Institut San Francisco has moved to a new location at 657 Howard Street in San Francisco. This new location is not presently open, due to renovation.
Educational Program – Youth 4 German Cinema
Having celebrated 10 years at the 2023 Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, Youth 4 German Cinema is an educational program organized in collaboration with the Language Program of the Goethe-Institut San Francisco and the online youth portal Step Into German. The program’s goals are to increase multicultural awareness among students and educate them on the subject of international film and film criticism, as well as provide an entry point for youth to the world of German cinema. Our programming includes a youth jury, mentored talks with film experts, and the festival field trips, which welcome registered students from across Northern California to free screenings.
Support and Get Involved
Tax-deductible donations can be made to the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Berlin & Beyond, Inc., to support the film festival.
For business sponsorship inquiries, volunteer opportunities, and membership programs and benefits, email Sophoan Sorn at email@example.com.
Photo credits: Barak Shrama Photography