The film archives contains all genres of German film, including documentaries, newsreels, feature films, experimental films, animations, children’s films and educational films, documenting over 100 years of German film history.
The oldest films shown to the public in 1895 are held alongside the current winners of the German Film Prize. The archives are centred around the period from 1930 to 1945, cinema newsreels after 1945 and films from the GDR. There is also an almost complete collection of productions commissioned by the federal authorities and films funded by the Federal Republic of Germany. TV productions are not collected.
The film archives became one of the largest in the world when the State Film Archive of the GDR was incorporated into the Federal Archives. It is a member of the Deutscher Kinematheksverbund and acts as a central German film archive.
The film collection currently contains around 155,000 documentaries and feature films on over one million film reels and other media.
The collection is supplemented by documents on film history, such as photographs, posters, screenplays, film catalogues, and documents from censorship offices and regulatory authorities. The archives also house a unique collection of German censorship files from 1908 to 1945, which are often the only traces of lost films.
Use of Films
Visitors can personally view accompanying materials in the reading room. We recommend sending us an enquiry and registering in writing or over the phone, so that we can better prepare for your visit. Items may be requested in advance.
You can visit our special film library during the library opening hours.
Films themselves can only be watched after prior registration at the Film Archives in Berlin-Lichterfelde. If you would like to request a supervised single viewing, there are viewing desks for 16mm and 35mm materials, as well as video stations. You can also loan media to watch, show and copy outside the archives.
What fees and expenses are involved?
We can generally provide responses to simple enquiries and access to film-related materials free of charge. Complex searches are charged in line with our fee regulations.
Fees and expenses for the use of films vary depending on the type and purpose of use. Certain film viewings and other uses may be free of charge. However, fees are always charged for commercial use and the lending of master copies for reproductions.
When lending films or making copies, additional fees may be incurred for the settlement of usage rights. Whenever films are copied onto various media and in various formats, this is carried out by external service providers at the standard market prices.
Can I purchase media?
For legal reasons, videos of full films or excerpts cannot be purchased from the Federal Archives.