FilmInitiativ Köln e.V.

FilmInitiativ Köln e.V. was founded in 1988, when it set itself the objective of "arousing interest in cinematic art by screening films and giving lectures and seminars, and also to stimulate and encourage political discussions". In doing so, "primarily films that are not represented in the listings of commercial cinemas should be given a platform. These could be significant films in cinematic history or culture which document the cinematographic works of non-European filmmakers".

In the years from 1988 to 1992 we had the first film series concerning the worldwide nuclear industry ("When the Wind Blows"), independent Chinese cinema ("Electric Shadows"), films about Australian aborigines ("Aboriginality) and anti-neo-Nazi films from here in Germany ("Wehret den Anfängen", or "Resist the Beginnings") 

These were later followed up by programmes on the subject of "returning from exile", a look back at the German Autumn ("Disturbing the Peace") and on "the persecution of the Jews and anti-Semitism in Cologne" (information about this is available on our website:

Focal points of our work since the 1990s: Africa and Cologne in film

Since the beginning of the 1990s, FilmInitiativ’s work has focused on two key issues:
1. The project Cologne in film – a film history of a city
This necessitated extensive historical research, with more than 6,000 film titles fed into a database and the results being published in a voluminous book in 2004 (Aretz, Christa/Schoor, Irene: Köln im Film - Filmgeschichten einer Stadt ["Cologne in Film – Film History of a City"]). A virtual Cologne film archive was subsequently created. Since the beginning of 2013 several rooms in the Cologne City Museum (Zeughausstraße 1-3, 50667 Köln) have been made available to the Cologne film project group.  From 2014, the project that has been supported by FilmInitiativ for over two decades will be assumed and continued by an independent film association in Cologne. Contact details, general information and the Cologne film archive can be found at:
2. The extensive presentation of African cinema with the biennial festival "Out of Europe" and special events focusing on a certain country or subject matter (documented on this website and in the database that has been under constant development since 2011). As of 2014, the FilmInitiativ Köln e.V. association will concentrate exclusively on this focal point of its work.

The Africa Film Festival Cologne

Since 1992 FilmInitiativ has presented an African film festival in Cologne titled "Out of Europe" . Initially being held at irregular intervals, the festival took place every two years from 1996 to 2016. In the years when there was no festival, "African Film Specials" focusing on a specific subject matter or countries were offered; a special to celebrate "50 years of Ghanaian independence", for example, one for the revolts in North Africa, one featuring contemporary cinema in South Africa two decades after the end of Apartheid and one featuring the African Diaspora Cinema. Since 2016 the title "Out of Europe" was dropped.

With the 15th edition from September 21 to October 1st, 2017, FilmInitiativ celebrated the 25th anniversary of the festival, which are held annually ever since, in 2018 (September 13 to 23) whit the focus "Migration within Africa" and 2019 (September 19 to 29) with the theme "Fundamentalism & Migration".  


International research from Ouagadougou to Carthage

As preparation for the Cologne festivals and specials, FilmInitiativ has regularly attended the FESPACO since 1993, the most important festival for African cinema in the world, in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Every two years the festival presents not only hundreds of new African films for festival-goers to discover, but it also provides a wonderful opportunity to meet and get the contact details of directors, actors and producers who we can then invite to Cologne. FilmInitiativ employees have also attended African film festivals in Durban, Tunis (Carthage), Rabat and Cairo, as well as those in Milan, Amsterdam, Leuwen, Tarifa/Cordoba and Frankfurt. Special programmes featuring films from Africa that are screened at international film festivals, such as Cannes, Berlin, Rotterdam, Venice, Locarno, Toronto and Innsbruck, are also reviewed and evaluated as regards their suitability for the Cologne festival. 

Cooperative partners in Germany

FilmInitiativ maintains regular correspondence with German event organisers, such as the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, the AfricAlive Festival in Frankfurt and the Filmforum in Freiburg, as well as other cooperative partners in Hamburg, Berlin and Dortmund, plus Saarbrücken and Munich. In addition to this, FilmInitiativ works within a wide network of cultural institutions, media partners and initiatives set up by African communities in North Rhine-Westphalia (listed at the bottom left of this page). FilmInitiativ Köln is a member of KINOaktiv, an amalgamation of independent film groups in Cologne, as well as the national cinema association Kommunale Filmarbeit e.V. (

Nearly 1000 films and more than 200 guests from 40 African countries

Since 1992, nearly 1000 films from 40 African countries have been screened in Cologne, and more than 200 filmmakers have been invited to present their works and hold discussions with the general public. The Africa film festival Cologne is not only unique to North Rhine-Westphalia, but also presents the most comprehensive range of contemporary African cinema to be found anywhere in Germany. As a result, the festival has grown in national and international stature in recent years. Therefor also the catalogues and this website are presented in three languages. 

New employees welcome!

FilmInitiativ Köln e.V. is open to anyone who would like to get involved. Voluntary helpers are essential, especially during the festivals. You are also welcome to support our work by making a donation. As a non-profit association, we will provide you with a donation receipt for tax deduction purposes. Donations should be transferred to the following account:

FilmInitiativ Köln e.V.
Donation: "Films from Africa"
Postbank Köln
Sort code: 370 100 50
Account number: 366 391 - 504
IBAN: DE12 3701 0050 0366 3915 04