Steven Spielberg (File Photo: AP)
The 73rd annual Berlinale, Europe's first major cinema showcase of the year, called Spielberg's more than 100 films and series "unique in the history of international cinema of the past 60 years for its immense variety".
The US director will be presented with the Honorary Golden Bear prize at a gala ceremony during the February 16-26 festival, which will also screen his new semi-autobiographical film "The Fabelmans".
The 75-year-old filmmaker was already awarded Germany's Federal Order of Merit in 1998 in recognition for his Holocaust drama "Schindler's List" and his Shoah Foundation preserving the memory of survivors.
"With an incredible career, Steven Spielberg has not only enchanted generations of viewers all over the world, but has also given a new meaning to the cinema as the factory of dreams," the Berlinale's directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said.
As the global cinema industry seeks a "new beginning" in the wake of the pandemic, "we couldn't find a better start than the one offered by Spielberg's great work," they added.
Spielberg, considered one of Hollywood's greatest living directors, has won three Academy Awards: best picture and best director for "Schindler's List," and best director again for "Saving Private Ryan."
He has been nominated for 19 Oscars to date and is expected to add to that tally at next year's Academy Awards with "The Fabelmans", starring Michelle Williams and Paul Dano.
The Berlinale ranks with Cannes and Venice among Europe's top three film festivals.