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Welcome to the Festival

Dear friends and fellow film lovers, 

We welcome you to the 25th Anniversary Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, May 25-June 6, 2021. Despite the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the challenges that we are facing, we feel immensely grateful to have this opportunity to be with you, virtually and in-person, for the 25th year. Berlin & Beyond continues to be an open forum and a gateway for contemporary German cinema to reach the American public. 

Journey with us through a broad spectrum of dynamic stories, diverse voices, personal experiences, and impactful dialogue. This year’s films are spoken in German, Swiss German, English, Kurdish, French, Farsi, Indonesian, Mongolian, Albanian, Portuguese, Soninke, and Swa-hili. We celebrate the work of women filmmakers: from the 25 directors of the 24 films, 15 are women. 

Our festival is in hybrid format, with the virtual cinema platform that features scheduled broadcasts, interactive Q&As and on-demand films. We get to be with you in person this May 25th and 26th, under the stars, at the Fort Mason Flix drive-in, next to San Francisco Bay, along with a special return to the cinema at the 109-year-old Vogue Theatre on May 29th. 

Opening our festival at the drive-in is Daphne Charizani’s “Sisters Apart,” a powerful story of familial bond and sacrifice amidst armed conflicts. Our virtual Closing Night Film is Leonie Krippendorff’s “Cocoon,” a multi-layered, self-discovery film set in summer-kissed Berlin. The Centerpiece film is Burhan Qurbani’s modern-day, new vision of “Berlin Alexanderplatz,” capturing the “life, love, and death” challenges faced by a refugee in Berlin. 

Also at the drive-in, we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Nowhere in Africa, the time-spanning film about a Jewish family who fled from the Nazis to start a new life on a remote farm in Kenya. We pay homage to renowned director and screenwriter Caroline Link, a leading light of German cinema, with our 2021 Career Achievement Award. 

As we look back and look forward, we are honored to have the participation of Ingrid Eggers, co-founder of Berlin & Beyond, who directed and formed the foundation for the festival for 14 years, from 1996 through 2009. 

Youth 4 German Cinema program brings together former youth jurors to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Sebastian Grobler’s Lessons of a Dream, the captivating schoolyard story how the English sport of soccer was introduced to Germany. 

The Goethe-Institut San Francisco is proud to be the founding and presenting partner. Highlighted through the section Goethe-Forum, we present films selected by the Goethe-Institut, hold Q&As with the directors and dive deep into the question of immersion and the future of Cinematique experiences.

We are grateful for the empowering support of our sponsors, partners, and friends from near and far, whose enduring generosity makes this festival possible. Likewise, we extend our gratitude to our hardworking and dedicated festival team, volunteers, and collaborators. Special thanks to the filmmakers and industry professionals for sharing their cinematic work with us. And, of course, thank you, our filmgoers and film lovers, particularly those in the San Francisco Bay Area, for attending the festival, year after year. Cheers to 25 years and beyond!


Noémie Njangiru
Director, Goethe-Institut San Francisco and President, Berlin & Beyond 

Sophoan Sorn
Director, Berlin & Beyond