What better way to celebrate 50 years of Sehsüchte than with a throwback to the past half century in the form of a digital and analog exhibition? Over the past few months, the new and unique History department has been working towards that very goal.
We, Katharina and Cansin, dug through the university’s internal archives, found former team members and interviewed them. We traced the beginnings of the festival and looked through 36 program booklets and 184 press documents. All of this in order to present the result to our festival visitors offline on the festival campus and here on our website.
What has happened in 50 years?
Sehsüchte originated in the spring of 1972 with the so-called FDJ Studententage (“Student Days”) at the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen (HFF: “University of Film and Television”). At that time in the form of a performance show lasting several days, students who were members of the FDJ (Freie Deutsche Jugend: “Free German Youth”) presented internal university film projects, exercises and scientific work.
In 1977, the HFF opened its doors for the first time to a delegation of film schools from Soviet countries abroad, who presented their own projects at the Studententage. Almost 10 years later, shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, West German film schools were also represented for the first time. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the FDJ was dropped from the name – from now on, the festival was called “Internationale Studententage” (“International Student Days”): the desire for a growing festival was great. In the early 1990s, many Western European countries were represented, including: England, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria. Despite a broad international program, hardly any guests came to the Studententage in 1992 – a disaster for the organizers.
In 1993 and 1994, it was decided to no longer hold the Studententage at the HFF, but to integrate them into the already existing Potsdam Film Festival. But here again, the cinemas remained sparsely attended and the student film festival was on the brink of extinction. 1995 saw a new beginning – under new leadership and a new name: Sehsüchte! Three students from the newly introduced master’s program in AV-Media Studies decided to revive the event at the HFF.
Since then, the festival has developed into the largest student film festival in Europe. In 2002, a logo was added: the flame, which has accompanied the festival in different variations ever since. From then on, new sections are born, discarded again or developed further. Each year, the event program offers new highlights for the festival week as well as prominent guests, jury members and filmmakers: Increasing numbers of visitors generate international attention for the festival.
Of course, 50 years of Sehsüchte cannot be covered within 2000 characters. For that reason, you will find a detailed look at the history of Sehsüchte on the website during the festival week. Between the 21th and the 25th of july you can also visit the exhibition in the atrium of the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF.