“We are the largest and oldest film school in Germany”
Industry Report: European Film Schools
Susanne Stürmer • President, KONRAD WOLF Film University of Babelsberg
Our conversation focused on the main learning opportunities offered to prospective students by Germany’s oldest and largest film school
We caught the opportunity to chat with Susanne Stürmer, President of the KONRAD WOLF Film University of Babelsberg, to discuss the main learning opportunities offered to prospective students. The Potsdam-based institution is part of both GEECT (European Grouping of Film and Television Schools) and CILECT (International Association of Film and Television Schools).
Cineuropa: What’s your school’s main teaching mission? What type of courses do you offer?
Susanne Stürmer: We’re the largest and oldest film school in Germany. We host around 900 students attending a broad variety of courses. We teach within the Bologna system, so we can offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees. We basically cover the whole range of professional activities in film – directing, producing, screenwriting, cinematography, editing, set design, production design, special effects, acting and more – you can basically study everything dealing with film! We also offer study programmes such as Media Studies and Film Heritage as well as artistic and scientific PhDs. Our study philosophy is that you [as a student] can specialise in one professional area, but the whole studies are very interdisciplinary. From the first day onwards, you make films with students attending other programmes – these can be pieces of fiction, documentaries, shorts, features, new media projects – so we teach within the whole film and media area. We aim to develop the artistic personality of our students, and we teach them how to take an artistic position in what they do as well as their social responsibility as filmmakers. Moreover, we’re closely linked with the industry. We’re located in Babelsberg, the cradle of the German film industry, a very vibrant, international location. We’re also well connected with the companies operating in our surroundings, throughout Germany and internationally.
What are your working languages?
We teach mainly in German. Our website lists the different levels you need depending on the course you apply for. If you apply for a course and your level is not yet sufficient, we support you in reaching the appropriate level. We also have a range of classes taught in English, but a main prerequisite remains a good command of German.
Do you provide any bursaries?
Studying in Germany is free. You only need to pay a term fee, which covers administrative costs as well as public transportation, and this is about €300 per term. We have two terms per year. So, we do not have to offer any scholarships to apply for before admission. Nevertheless, if you get enrolled, a number of institutions offer scholarships, be it the DAAD for international exchanges or scholarships for highly talented students.
How should a student prepare for admission?
The first thing to do would be visiting our website, it’s also in English and well organised. There, you can find all the information you need. Besides, we organise an open day every year. Currently, we also host it digitally owing to the pandemic. You can also contact the study offices of the respective programmes. Moreover, we offer preparatory classes and summer schools – these are also available on our website – where you can get some additional preparation for the admission. They’re often fully booked but attending these courses is not mandatory. The main point is to read the requirements carefully and to prepare your portfolio.
How did you adapt teaching during these Covid times?
We adapted fairly fast. As you know, the pandemic had different phases. In the very tough moments we went fully online; in the “lighter” phases, we were teaching physically in smaller groups. We started physical filmmaking again in March this year. We also implemented different safety measures including sanitisation, testing and vaccination. Overall, we’re well prepared and quite optimistic for the autumn thanks to the high vaccination rate recorded in Germany.
Anything else you would like to add?
We’re a fairly international institution, and we take part in many exchange programmes with many countries and regions including Iran, North America, Europe and South Africa. We’re members of various international organisations such as ELIA and GEECT. We provide very good support services for international students and we’re strategically based in Potsdam, which is very close to Berlin, Germany’s main international hub. It’s a really great place for international film students.
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