FILMFEST DRESDEN was founded in 1989 before the imminent collapse of the GDR and reunification of Germany. The short film festival focuses on short film in all its facets, and has become one of the most important festivals of its kind throughout Germany. FILMFEST DRESDEN is also one of the best endowed short film festivals in Europe with prizes and awards worth €72,000.

The FILMFEST DRESDEN short film festival was first held under the title of FILMFEST SÜD in the spring of 1989. The Filmtheater Olympia cinema, the Kino Reick cinema and the lecture hall at the TU Dresden university provided the venues for the event. With no official permission whatsoever from state bodies, at that time the festival organisers compiled an international programme with more than 30 films. But just before the festival was about to start, a major political dispute occurred and more than half of the films in the programme were censored. By the time the second FILMFEST DRESDEN was held, the historic events that had occurred just a few months later in the autumn of 1989 paved the way for it. At that time in early 1990, the Filminitiative Dresden e.V. association was formed, one of the first ever such associations of its kind in Dresden after the collapse of East Germany, and it has been the organiser of FILMFEST DRESDEN up to the present day.

Since its inception as a forum for banned or rarely screened feature films, FILMFEST DRESDEN has developed into a short film festival with a permanent position on the international circuit. Dresden's long animated film tradition, such as being the location of the former East German DEFA Animation Film Studios, proved to be a key factor in the decision to introduce competition sections for fictional and animated films especially. The festival's International Competition has been held since 1992, and this was followed in 1998 by the establishment of a National Competition for German productions. Since 2004, the Saxon State Ministry for Science and the Fine Arts Promotion Prize worth €20,000 has been awarded in this section.

For more information, please see our online archive or our comprehensive anniversary magazine, published in 2018, that you can order via e-mail.


By now, FILMFEST DRESDEN awards each year prizes worth €72,000, and attracts around 20,000 international and national visitors, including 550 professionals. Since 2017, the festival has also become more and more accessible: each year, several competition programmes are screened with audio description for the visually impaired and extended German subtitles for people with hearing impairment in order to make the festival accessible to these target groups. Additionally, the subsequent film discussions as well as the opening and awards ceremony are accompanied and translated by German sign language interpreters. The festival team is also supported by a specially founded advisory board, "Cinema without barriers". Thus, FILMFEST DRESDEN is taking on a pioneering role among German film festivals in terms of accessibility and inclusion.

As of 2018, FILMFEST DRESDEN has also been setting a good example in terms of gender equality: on its 30th anniversary, a Film Award for GenderDiversity in short film was awarded for the first time.

Inclusive image film of FILMFEST DRESDEN with English subtitles


FILMFEST DRESDEN is now listed as an official reference festival by Germany’s main film funding body, the FFA. It is a member of AG Kurzfilm, the federal German short film association, the European Film Academy and the Filmverband Sachsen e.V., the film association in Saxony, as well as being involved in the Netzwerk Kultur Dresden local culture network, the WOD initiative for a cosmopolitan Dresden and the Kulturloge Dresden, which brings culture to low income individuals.

FILMFEST DRESDEN supports having responsible, fair and respectful relations between film festivals and the owners of film rights and has committed itself to complying with the voluntary code of ethics for German festivals.