Oscar Martay, a film officer of the Information Service Branch of the American High Commissioner for Germany stationed in Berlin, proposed the idea of a film festival in Berlin. The proposal was put through a committee including members of the Senate of Berlin and people from the German film industry on October 9, 1950.
Through his efforts and influence, the American military administration was persuaded to assist and to give loans for the first years of the Berlin International Film Festival, which commenced in June 1951 with film historian Dr. Alfred Bauer as its first director, a position he would hold until 1976.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca opened the first festival at the Titiana-Palast in Steglitz on June 6, 1951. The first festival ran from June 6–17th with Waldbühne being another festival venue.