The Think:Film congress followed two previous congresses held in close collaboration with the Goethe Institute in Toronto in 1989 and 2010 respectively.
At the 1989 Experimental Film Congress, the focus was on developing criteria for determining what experimental cinema actually is, establishing positions and working towards the creation of a theoretical framework. A fundamental debate arose about how a type of film history which had been seen as having the potential to renew cinema in a fundamental manner might be written and who should be doing the writing. It was also established at the same time that this coveted type of cinema was publically marginalized.
The second congress, which was renamed the Experimental Media Congress, was more concerned with taking stock following two decades in which experimental film had diversified strongly both with respect to technology and culture and had practically become a historical concept in the process. The subjects covered included method and practice in production and presentation, the mythologisation and institutionalization of experimental film, its place in cinema, art and media contexts, and a look at countries not represented in the field in 1989. 50 people from different theoretical and practical backgrounds, artists, filmmakers, academics, curators and archivists were invited to either speak or be on panels, with a total of 300 people in total taking part in the congress. The five days made clear that fundamental new formulations were needed in the face of different artistic positions and the veritable jungle of cultural, medial, technical and academic concepts.
It was decided to hold the congress every two years on a regular basis. The idea of using a changing location does not just have the advantage of allowing different hosts to take over its organization but is also intended to play a role in changing perspectives and creating specific thematic focuses.
The International Experimental Cinema Congress in Berlin was not a film festival. Under the title Think:Film, the congress had set itself the task of expounding on the reciprocal relationship between forms of cinematic language and types of thought and discussing this relationship with an international audience of specialists by means of a series of events organized by topic. The most advanced forms of cinematic art formed a starting point for these discussions rather than their hollow, popularized counterparts. The congress sees itself as a framework to provide new ways of justifying the necessity of such film production.