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Berlinale: Panorama Curator Wieland Speck Looks Ahead – to the Past

African film 'The Wound' opened this year's Panorama section at the Berlinale

For much of his 25 years as curator of the Berlinale’s Panorama section, Wieland Speck has focused on the future, or finding the next film.

But Speck, 65, now feels it’s time for him to switch his focus to the past.

“I want to study what I did,” he says.

Although he intends to remain curator of Panorama, Speck says he plans to leave more and more of the programming to his staff as he segues from selecting new films to looking at what he can do with films that have all but passed him – and the rest of the world – by.

“I have a great collection of work that hasn’t made it. I want to dig into those films and reflect,” Speck said, adding: “You rush through life looking for the new film. It is time for other people to help look for those new films now.”

In his many years at the Berlinale, Speck has introduced a number of initiatives, including the Teddy Awards, which honor LGBT films, and the Queer Academy, an annual convention for LGBT filmmakers and programmers. But he feels there is more to do, especially at a time of political unrest and right-wing agitation, and he would like to turn to films from the past for help.

“What I want to do is Queer Academy work,” he adds. “To look into the past, to know where we are, and know what we have to do in the future. This will drive me for the next few years, and allow me to get out of looking at what the next films are, and to look at history and what we should do.”

Seeing film as a way to change the world has been part of the thinking at Panorama since the late filmmaker, Manfred Salzgeber, launched the section. Speck took over the section after Salzgeber grew ill from AIDS.

But a quarter of a century later, Speck is ready to “free myself from duty” and to “get away from conventional stress in order to reflect.”

“I see so many people in our film world that cannot stop what they are doing and cling to do what they are doing, and I don’t want to be part of that,” he says. “I don’t see that for myself.”

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