Dominik Graf is one of Germany’s most important – and prolific – filmmakers of the last half century. Since his debut, the short film Carlas Briefe (Carla’s Letters, 1975), and his first feature, Der kostbare Gast (The Precious Guest, 1979), he has directed almost 80 films, most of them for German television.1 Having just celebrated his 70th birthday, Mr. Graf is not showing any signs of slowing down: his new made-for-television film, Gesicht der Erinnerung (Face of Memory), premiered at the Munich Film Festival in June 2022 and received the prize for best script (by Norbert Baumgarten) at the Festival of German Cinema in Ludwigshafen (August-September 2022); and Mein Falke (My Falcon), based on a script by Beate Langmaack, who also wrote Graf’s television film Hanne (2020), is scheduled for a 2023 TV release. One of the most decorated German filmmakers of his or any generation, Graf is best known for his numerous policiers, whether in form of contributions to long-running television crime shows such as Tatort (Crime Scene, 1970 – present), Polizeiruf 110 (Police Call 110, 1971 – present), or the above mentioned Der Fahnder; of his ten-episode television masterpiece, Im Angesicht des Verbrechens (In the Face of Crime, 2008-2010); or of his pièce de résistance, Die Sieger (The Invincibles, 1994), Graf’s ill-fated attempt at rejuvenating the genre for the German big screen that must nevertheless be considered one of German cinema’s all-time best films.2 

Notwithstanding his renown at home, Graf has remained largely unknown outside the German-language sphere, which is due not least to the fact that most of his films were (and continue to be) made for television and that many are not available commercially, let alone with subtitles. Even the release of the director’s cut of The Invincibles – screened in 2019 to wide acclaim at the Berlin International Film Festival to commemorate the film’s 25th anniversary – did not yield a DVD / Blu-Ray release with English subtitles because, as Graf told me, Bavaria, the film’s production company, had hoped to sell the film’s home video rights separately to the U.S. market. Alas: rather predictably this has not happened to this day. Thus, audiences who do not understand German had – and continue to have – only rare occasion to explore his work. In 2013, for example, the International Film Festival Rotterdam honoured Graf with his first major retrospective abroad, “resulting in the international discovery of Germany’s arguably most thought-provoking modern auteur,” as one of the festival’s webpages correctly states.3 Perhaps the most prominent site where this discovery has been promoted with some consistency is MUBI, the thoughtfully curated streaming site, and its NOTEBOOK feature. Moreover, in 2019, the Anthology Film Archives in New York City, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut New York, organised the first retrospective (curated by Olaf Möller) of Graf’s work in the U.S. This showcasing of Graf’s oeuvre subsequently paid critical dividends in form of a terrific interview with him that Graham Fuller, who discovered Graf’s work at this retrospective, conducted for Cineaste, focusing on the director’s three-hour-long adaptation of Erich Kästner’s classic novel, Fabian oder der Gang vor die Hunde (Fabian: Going to the Dogs, 2021).4

Fabian – Opening Tracking Shot Transitioning from a Berlin Subway Station in 2019 to Fabian (Tom Schilling) at the Top of the Station in 1931

Like Graf’s earlier historical film, Die geliebten Schwestern (Beloved Sisters, 2014), which centres the relationship between the politically radical German Romantic poet Friedrich Schiller and two relatively impoverished aristocratic sisters, Fabian enjoyed a limited theatrical release abroad. It can be considered Graf’s latest missive directed at unified Germany, in that its historical mise en scène, set in Weimar Germany just prior to Hitler’s ascension to power, is framed by an elegant opening sequence that seamlessly and seemingly improbably transitions from contemporary Berlin to the film’s Weimar setting. This cinematic decision foregrounds the continuity between the Germany of yore and its most recent iteration, as Graf explains in his interview with Fuller. The idea is to confront the film’s viewer with the notion that today’s young consumer-citizens are “lemmings,” as Graf puts it, just like their ancestors were in 1933 and, more recently, in 1990, when too many Germans did not actively resist the neoliberal ideologues who engineered the country’s unification.

Graf, as the interview below on the role unification has played in his work makes clear, harbours considerable misgivings about contemporary Germany, not least because of how the process of unifying former East and West Germany was brought about.5 Indeed, I can think of only a very small number of contemporary German filmmakers who have so consistently – and critically – engaged with German unification and its aftermath as Graf has.6 I first drew attention to this aspect of Graf’s work in my wide-ranging interview with him that Senses of Cinema published in 20107. I subsequently had the privilege of extending that conversation both by conducting an interview with him in front of an audience at the moving history: Festival des historischen Films film festival in Potsdam, Germany in fall 2019, where Graf and I discussed his contribution to the television series Morlock (1993-194): Graf’s film, Die Verflechtung (Entanglement, 1993), was one of the very first German films not only to engage the immediate effects of unification but also to do so by expressing dissent by clarifying that East Germany was subjected to a neo-colonial takeover by West Germany: the latter purchased the former’s industry at bargain-basement prices, with the effect that the East German population would soon face mass unemployment – a traumatic experience the effects of which continue to reverberate to this day.8 

Morlock: Die Verflechtung – Götz George as Morlock, with Shady East German Characters

Graf’s irritation with (if not anger at) his country is also palpable in another of his recent films, Der rote Schatten (The Red Shadow, 2017), one of his many contributions to the Tatort television series. Revisiting the spectre of the left-wing Red Army Faction, which for several decades fought the West German state by taking up arms against it, the film assumes a revisionist stance towards the famous events that took place in the so-called hot autumn of 1977 (during which the terrorist group’s imprisoned leaders are said to have committed suicide) and confronts unsuspecting German primetime television viewers by speculatively (re-)inserting the idea into public discourse four decades after the events that the terrorists might have become victims to state-sanctioned murder. Specifically, Graf inserts two possible versions of the events – the government’s official version and the version that especially in the left-leaning milieu of the time (and to some degree even years and decades after the events) has enjoyed at least some currency, which most historians, however, dismiss as “fake news” – into the film that he shot, unlike most of the film, in Super 8. The insinuation of “authenticity” resulting from this cinematic choice has the effect that both versions are offered as potentially equally plausible. Yet as Daniel Kasman astutely comments, the “purpose is not for The Red Shadow to claim the rumour as truth. Rather, through its nest of crimes, coverups, doubles, and history spiralling ever-away, yet still alive in the bodies, minds, and desires of the participants, its purpose is to question the official history and fiercely indicate the places of doubt, the possibilities for other occurrences, motivations, victims and perpetrators.”9 The uniqueness of this act of questioning official history does not lie in the fact of this questioning’s occurrence itself but, rather, in that it took place on German primetime television reaching approximately nine million viewers. As Kasman points out, this viewership is far higher than a “film riding on this exact idea” would have ever reached, either on TV or in the cinema. Indeed, one of the reason that Graf’s The Invincibles failed so miserably at the German box office was precisely because of its pessimistic, dark stance toward an ostensibly stable, well-functioning, and wealthy democracy that after unification also presumed to be once again a “normal” country – an exceedingly critical disposition that permeates the film’s cinematography and action from start to finish but is also rendered explicit when the primary female character, after having surprised one of the special police force members on whom the film focuses by giving him a quick blowjob, casually remarks that Germany “would outlaw elections if voting were actually to change anything.” Yet whereas in 1994 the film quickly disappeared without its critique leaving much of a trace on the public imagination, the intensification of this critique more than two decades later in The Red Shadow clearly struck a nerve, for no one less than German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier took it upon himself to condemn the film in a public speech commemorating the RAF’s murder of Hans-Martin Schleyer, the powerful president of West Germany’s organisation of employers and erstwhile SS officer.

The Red Shadow – Official Version of Andreas Baader’s Suicide vs. Rumoured Version of His Murder by Police

From Morlock: Die Verflechtung to Fabian, Graf has repeatedly returned to the events of 1989/1990 and their aftermath. It might, then, not be an exaggeration to claim that this half dozen or so films amount to a coherent political critique of post-unified Germany, one that is expressive of Graf’s feeling, expressed at the end of the interview below, that “West Germany was stolen from us” – a statement that is as startling to read today, some 30 years after unification was engineered by then Chancellor Helmut Kohl, as it is provocative in its sheer, simple factual accuracy. 

I conducted the interview below with Mr. Graf in German via email in August 2019. It was originally published by the Goethe-Institut as part of its “Wunderbar: A Celebration of German Film” project, which was in turn part of their year-long “Wunderbar Together” campaign to celebrate German-American friendship in the leadup to the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. The interview was published both in German (“‘Ich bin kein Moralist’”) and in English (“‘I Am No Moralist’”), the latter in a translation by Chris Cave, which is reproduced here with some modifications. As editorial content on the Goethe-Institut web site is time-limited, the interview is no longer available there. I am grateful to Senses of Cinema for giving it a new home.

– MA

MA: Not only was Morlock: Die Verflechtung one of the first non-documentary German (television) films to focus on German unification, it was also one of the very first fictional films about this subject to be realised by a filmmaker who had been socialised in West Germany. The film is based on a book by Rolf Basedow, an author who had likewise been socialised in the Federal Republic of Germany. What was your aim in shooting this film, in the midst, as it were, of the affirmative wave of Spasskultur (fun culture) that the newly unified country was finding so intoxicating?

DG: In one scene in Basedow’s original film treatment, the West German management consultant Morlock …

MA … played by the late Götz George, one of Germany’s most famous actors who had previously played the lead in Graf’s Die Katze (The Cat, 1988), his biggest commercial success with 1.3 million viewers at the West German box office, as well as in Graf’s first Tatort contribution, Schwarzes Wochenende (Black Weekend, 1986) …

DG … wants to speak to the mayor of a small town near Leipzig in the fall of 1992. However, he is not in his office; instead, Morlock finds his very young daughter behind the house, thrashing the building’s wall with a whip. It was quite clear that she was practicing for a job in a new sex club. The scene was cut to avoid “offending” the “brothers and sisters in the East” (as they were defined in post-war West Germany). No offense was meant, however. This was simply the reality that Basedow had recorded. When we were searching for Morlock settings in the lowlands near Leipzig in the summer of 1992, including one in which he could be wearing a cashmere overcoat and find himself confronted by workers at the entrance to a factory, we found the locals happy to help. But when we arrived to do the shoot in the fall, no workers’ council was willing to allow a major West German star onto the company premises. 20 years later, I recreated the scene – which was never actually shot – as an animation in my movie about the Grimme Award, Es werde Stadt: 50 Jahre Grimme-Preis in Marl (Let There Be a City: 50 Years of the Grimme-Prize in Marl, 2014).10

MA: And yet you decided to make the film, which perhaps suggests that you felt a certain urge to make the movie even if the original version proved impossible to realise.

DG: The movie was a screenplay massacre, much as was the case with The Invincibles. The Italian co-producers were constantly sending telegraphs to Bavaria Film Studios, saying “we want more outdoor action!” Regional broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk was hesitant due to the need to take East German sensitivities into account. Rolf went on strike and refused to work for a short time, and other authors were sent into the field, though most of their work was edited out again, and ultimately 85 percent of what remained was pure Basedow.11 I had even given up on the movie once, but the film’s producer, Günter Rohrbach, got me to come back and later conjectured that I had only made the film because of the scene in which Morlock’s sidekick Stefan Reck is supposed to tease information out of the company secretary who has been fired. It is an absolutely wonderful scene: it portrays a kind of erotic Western colonialism in the German East, though ultimately the cards are turned on the guy from the West because the secretary tricks him by slipping him false documents. I invested a great deal of work and effort into this scene and still love it to this day. But I was hugely motivated to make the movie because of Basedow’s entire screenplay: only he is able to depict the local landscapes, the people, and the destructive wave of corporate selling managed by the Treuhand state holding company in this unique way.12

Morlock: Die Verflechtung – East German Secretary Seducing Morlock’s Assistant

MA: Eine Stadt wird erpresst (City for Ransom, 2006), shot leading up to the 2006 Soccer World Cup in Germany (known to Germans also as a “summer fairy-tale”) and based once again on a book by Basedow, returns to the area around Leipzig. The movie picks up on some of the motifs from the Morlock film but seems even gloomier in its depiction of unification. Die Verflechtung does at least have a happy ending, albeit a very qualified one. By contrast, the happy ending in Eine Stadt wird erpresst can only be imagined in the radical negation that unites the protagonist and antagonist in the end. As in Robert Aldrich’s wonderful late-noir movie Kiss Me Deadly (1955), everything blows up, though less spectacularly in your film: the fatal hand grenade only detonates just off-screen, yet the disastrous consequence of what Inspector Kalinke had already said before – namely that “the entire country is screwed” – is nonetheless palpable

DG: In this movie, the people of West and East Germany rip into one another 15 years after unification because the betrayal that the people in the East experienced in 1990 still remains unatoned. Normally I find the bitterness in political films made by people such as Aldrich, Oliver Stone, or Yves Boisset (who also directed a Morlock episode) rather comforting because these great directors give you the sense that you are not left alone with your feelings in the face of this catastrophic state of affairs

MA: One of the film’s predominant themes is the state of not being alone, something that is called “solidarity,” though this is not an entirely neutral term. The movie takes this word, both as a concept and as a feeling, and critically analyses it, makes it more complicated, and at the end affirms it. It is this sense of solidarity that those who feel betrayed cling to as something that the “Wessies” (the nickname given to West Germans by those in the East) cannot take away from them. It is something that is also important to the police and that is undermined by the career-obsessed state attorney. And ultimately, it is what ties the two adversaries together in all kinds of ways: although in principle Naumann accuses Kalinke of having shown a “lack of solidarity” towards him in the pre-unification years, at the end he nonetheless senses that Kalinke is his mirror image. Or that there is an “affective” connection that goes deeper than any of the differences that separate them in post-unification Germany. In short, the way in which this film explores the question of solidarity is one of the main differences from Morlock.

DG: Eine Stadt wird erpresst is about the “poor people of Gralwitz” battling against the system in the new states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Kalinke is tasked with investigating them. Though he is actually on their side, he is then overtaken by an old Stasi cover-up in the form of Naumann. “The state always takes what it wants,” says one of the Gralwitz locals, which sounds more like something one would have heard in the 18th century – the state being the lord of the manor against whom one must struggle. And undecided people like Kalinke get pulverized in the middle. I believe that Basedow’s humour and irony serve as unifying forces here to some extent. The disputes with the public prosecutor from the West are also bitter, though not humourless.

Eine Stadt wird erpresst – Naumann Blows Up Himself and Kalinke

MA: Eine Reise nach Weimar (A Trip to Weimar, 1996), based on the book by Johannes Reben, is a romantic comedy that nonetheless takes a rather unforgiving look at unification: ultimately, the movie only resolves the bitterness of the protagonist, who was socialised in the East, in a plot twist that almost degenerates into a fairy-tale, leading to what is only seemingly a happy ending. “Seemingly” in the sense that the off-screen sex that the two have at the end of the film – while the older and well-meaning Pan-European “Svengalis,” who bring our two “heroes” together against all odds, enjoy listening to the sounds of passion in the next room – is quite clearly absurd. It seems almost as if the message were that there can be no happy ending for people who are living in the wrong life, but for those who absolutely insist on a happy ending – well here it is. What motivated you to make this film, especially given the topic of unification and new beginnings that is at the heart of the movie?

DG: Ever since Morlock, I had been infected by the German East. I perceived places, landscapes, and people not only as a political dimension but also as an aesthetic factor. In other words, the architecture, lifestyle, and language of East Germany were becoming increasingly familiar and understandable to me. In the 1990s, I felt that they were more honest than in the West. It seemed to me that the eagerness to renovate and restructure was dishonest and akin to painting over the cracks.

Reise nach Weimar – “Happy End”

MA: This is also something you address in your short film Den Weg, den wir nicht zusammen gehen (The Path That We Do Not Walk Together, 2009), which is a contribution to Deutschland 09: 13 Filme zur Lage der Nation (Germany 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation, 2009). But if I can just push you on this: viewing the East and the people in it as more honest – could one even say: “more authentic”? – could perhaps be interpreted as a kind of “orientalisation” of the East. As a director who reflects on things to an extreme extent, you must be aware of this “danger.” How did you attempt to counteract this in a cinematic and narrative sense – in the sense of narrative style?

DG: Of course, in all of this it was ultimately Basedow who was the driving force behind my familiarisation with the German East in the first place. For many years, he worked as an editor on my films (for example Treffer [Score] in 1984); he had also studied at the University of Film and Television in Munich like I had and from the end of the 1980s suddenly began writing sensational screenplays. As an author, his first work was a joint episode from the Fahnder series in 1990, entitled Bis ans Ende der Nacht (Until the End of the Night, 1991). It was as if he took the authenticity of his research into the police and society in the German East and then created poetry out of it. I believe that those of us who were born in the West in the 1950s had, for the most part, no idea whatsoever about East Germany until unification. It also gives us a different perspective on East Germany, however – on its former present and on its life thereafter. While I naturally also regard lignite mining …

MA: … which is featured prominently in both Morlock and Eine Stadt wird erpresst

DG: … as a ruthless exploitation of nature, I cannot deny that it also has an aesthetic dimension. The lunar landscapes and huge diggers were also symbolic images of what happened to the people because of the systems – in the East and in the capitalist West. And what is more, this destruction also has a fascinating beauty.

Morlock and Eine Stadt wird erpresst – Lignite Mining

MA: How would you view the three films in relation to one another?

DG: Perhaps one should also include the movie Der Rote Kakadu (The Red Cockatoo, 2006). In this film, the brainchild of Michael Klier, East Germany still had a realistic chance – before the Berlin Wall was built – of also being the “better Germany” for young people.13 I believe that ideological rivalry is productive and positive. Capitalism suffocates the world and urgently needs a strong counterpoint. However, it is always the case that those on the left have argued amongst themselves rather than joining forces to destroy their political opposition. Perhaps they will be given the opportunity to fight once again. The struggle for the best society and way of life must remain in balance, without anybody actually winning

MA: The Red Cockatoo is about a moment of transition: from the moment when there was still hope, embodied in the enthusiasm of the young – if not about East Germany itself, then about the possibility of another, better life (both in the East and in the West) – to the moment of the “fall,” i.e., the end of love or rather of the experience that, after their separation (Siggi makes it to the West, whereas Luise does not), only memories of their love and hope remain. This hope and its genuine destruction are also featured in brief but intense moments in Reise nach Weimar and Eine Stadt wird erpresst, as well as in Morlock in the character of the incorruptible worker who helps Morlock solve the mysterious crime. This is an important leitmotif linking the four films

DG: Yes, one could summarise it by saying that the story of East and West is a whole series of lies, deception, and corruption, of mutual exploitation and scheming. Looking back, perhaps one should celebrate the handful of decent people in East Germany. This country that existed in the ideals of these decent people is, as it were, still worth being celebrated as a dream, and part of this dream is also the solidarity of a community. There were good reasons why East Germany thought of itself as the “better” Germany. Yet in the long term it failed to work just like all other historical situations in the whole battle between Left and Right in the last 150 years. East Germany followed the same path as the devastating defeat of the socialist and anarchist militias in the Spanish Civil War: they were stamped out by bureaucrats and potentates.

MA: When one watches these four movies – or even The Invincibles, In the Face of Crime, or The Red Shadow, which implicitly focus on the effects of unification and explicitly explore the situation of the Berlin Republic – one cannot help but feel that you were and are no big fan of what happened in (and after) 1990.

DG: In my eyes, unification constituted a declaration of West Germany’s moral bankruptcy, a state that I had still more or less been able to accept as my homeland, despite its Red Army Faction hysteria and the mega corruption that prevailed during the 1980s under Chancellor Kohl. Since unification I have harboured very deep disdain for this homeland. That said, I like the people who were hurt and who became victims. These movies are for them – and for me.

MA: I was born in West Germany in 1969, grew up in Chancellor Kohl’s 1980s, with memories of the German Autumn, the vote of no confidence against Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1982 that led to Kohl’s long reign (1982-1998), and therefore also to some extent with the sense that there is something in West Germany that was worth fighting for. Unification left me somewhat cold. My feeling, which I cannot shake off to this day, is that I lost a country – my country, even if I viewed West Germany with a certain emotional distance, which no doubt was the result of my post-1968 school education. I do not know whether there are any films about this feeling, or this experience, both as the mirror image of your depiction of the betrayed East Germans and as a mirror image of the winners-of-history narrative that unthinkingly presents unification as a kind of salvation of the German people.

DG: Isn’t all that – post-unification Berlin and Brandenburg – covered to some extent in In the Face of Crime? Where East German mayors get caught up in dodgy deals with former East German top dogs who, in turn, are involved with the Russian mafia? The Russian army has withdrawn, and shortly afterwards the Ukrainian Mafiosi were welcomed with open arms by the (perhaps) unsuspecting West German government officials of the 1990s. And into what abysses of the former “East German fringes” did poor nine-year-old Peggy Knobloch disappear in 2001?

MA: The basis for your TV crime film, Das unsichtbare Mädchen (The Invisible Girl, 2011).

DG: Yes. And when Westerners meet in an expensively renovated villa in the state of Thuringia in my contribution to Dreileben: Komm mir nicht nach (Dreileben: Don’t Follow Me, 2011), that is all post-unification stuff.

MA: You mean the derelict villa where West German police psychologist Jo (Jeanette Hain), who her bosses directed to help the East German police, initially meets the West German writer Bruno (Mišel Matičević), partner of Jo’s West German friend Vera. Bruno and Vera are in the process of renovating the villa, which, we surmise, they purchased for little money. And though Bruno sees himself as preserving old stories before they completely disappear, the suggestion, here and elsewhere in the film, is that this is an example of neo-colonialism.

DG: Yes. But I am no “moralist,” as Kästner describes his alter ego, Fabian;14 that is a stance that for me is too bereft of opportunity. I only use the telescopic perspective of good screenplay writers to observe the structures of the destruction to which I am a witness.

Dreileben: Komm mir nicht nach – West German Neo-Colonialism

Dreileben: Komm mir nicht nach – West German Neo-Colonialism

MA: Yes, that makes sense. But I believe there is a “Western” experience of unification that, without having anything to do with the East, does have something to do with loss and confusion. The loss of one’s own country (however one might have felt about it); the confusion of suddenly living in a different country and of being a citizen of a somehow foreign country without one having really been asked whether this is actually what one wanted. This is really the sort of story that would be set in the West: precisely among that group of people, the post-1968 left-wing generation, who had pinned their hopes on Oskar Lafontaine – who spoke out against immediate unification but was in favour of reparations – and then had to face the fact that their Western biotope, however problematic it may have been, had suddenly disappeared from one day to the next.15 How is one supposed to deal with that, emotionally, psychologically, and so forth? That is what I meant by a “mirror image” of the experience of the East Germans: as a Westerner, one also felt betrayed to some extent. Of course, not everyone felt this, yet one was a) guilty by association (the West exploited the East, and as a Westerner it is just as impossible to escape one’s own implication, because it was structural, as it is for white liberal left-wing Americans to escape the fact that they are part of a genealogical line that inflicted genocide on the Native Americans and enslaved Africans); b) relatively privileged, certainly economically; and c) misunderstood or simply ignored. But maybe it is absurd to claim that unification led to one losing one’s own country.

DG: Yes, that is correct. West Germany was stolen from us. I also find that interesting. Perhaps, subliminally, this is also where my identification with the Easterners comes from, who were also stolen from. These two states had far more identity than politicians and the cultural mainstream were willing to admit in retrospect. West Berlin is perhaps the most extreme example. It was a subsidised construct that people like Oskar Roehler never tire of mocking – but I remember it differently.16 Cosy, yes. But also incredibly tough: urban warfare, the Red Army Faction, drugs, wastelands of rubble at Kottbusser Tor where the Americans practiced urban warfare… I loved it.


  1. The number includes six 25-minutes episodes for the short-lived television series Köberle kommt (1982-1983) and, between 1984 and 1993, 13 x 50-minutes episodes for the TV series Der Fahnder (The Detective, 1984-2005).
  2. For more on this film, see my essays “Yearning for Genre: The Cinema of Dominik Graf,” Generic Histories of German Cinema: Film Genre and Its Deviations, ed. Jaimey Fisher (Camden House, 2013): 261-284; and “A Genre Epic Reappraised: Dominic Graf’s ‘The Invincibles’, MUBI Notebook (July 2020): https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/a-genre-epic-reappraised-dominik-graf-s-director-s-cut-of-the-invincibles.
  3. “Big Talk: Dominik Graf,” https://iffr.com/en/iffr/2021/events/big-talk-dominik-graf.
  4. Graham Fuller, “The Price of Morality in Weimar Germany: An Interview with Dominik Graf,” Cineaste XLVI (summer 2022): 4-8.
  5. For more on this, see both my essay “A Genre Epic Reappraised” and my brief response to Graham Fuller’s interview with Graf, “Wunderbar Graf Interview,” Cineaste XLVII (fall 2022): 3.
  6. Graf’s colleague and friend, Christian Petzold, comes to mind as arguably his only peer in this regard. For more on Petzold’s work, including his longstanding critical engagement with the neoliberalization of unified Germany, see “Christian Petzold: A Dossier,” Senses of Cinema 84 (September 2017), ed. Marco Abel and Jaimey Fisher, http://www.sensesofcinema.com/category/christian-petzold-a-dossier/.
  7. “‘I Build a Jigsaw Puzzle of a Dream-Germany: An Interview with German Filmmakers Dominik Grad,” Senses of Cinema 55 (July-September 2010), http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2010/feature-articles/“‘i-build-a-jigsaw-puzzle-of-a-dream-germany’-an-interview-with-german-filmmaker-dominik-graf”-2/#b57.
  8. For a recording of my German-language conversation with Graf on the film, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOECBG4FYpY&t=4s.
  9. Daniel Kasman. “A Counter-World: Dominik Graf and ‘The Red Shadow’.” MUBI NOTEBOOK, 19 March 2018. https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/a-counter-world-dominik-graf-and-the-red-shadow.
  10. Graf himself is a ten-times recipient of Germany’s most prestigious television award.
  11. To date, Graf has made 15 individual films and TV episodes, as well as the series In the Face of Crime, based on Basedow’s scripts.
  12. The Treuhandanstalt was created in the summer of 1990, just prior to unification, in order to seize control of previously state-owned East German businesses. At its peak, it owned about 12,000 companies and employed over 4 million people. After unification and under leadership of West German managers, the Treuhand privatised as many of its companies as it could, causing millions of East Germans to lose their jobs.
  13. Michael Klier, who grew up in East Germany, is the director of, among other films, Überall ist es besser, wo wir nicht sind (The Grass Is Greener Everywhere Else, 1989), Der Riese (The Giant, 1992), Heidi M. (2002), and Farland (2004).
  14. Fabian is the protagonist of Graf’s Fabian – Going to the Dogs.
  15. In 1990, Lafontaine, then a member of the Social Democratic Party, ran against Kohl to become Chancellor of unified Germany but lost.
  16. Roehler has directed films such as Agnes und seine Brüder (Agnes and His Brothers, 2004) and Elementarteilchen (Elementary Particles, 2006). For more on his work, see my essay “Failing to Connect: Itinerations of Desire in Oskar Roehler’s Post-Romance Films,” New German Critique 109 (winter 2010): 75-98; as well as “Images for a Post-Wall Reality: New German Films at the 55th Berlin Film Festival,” Senses of Cinema 35 (April 2005), https://www.sensesofcinema.com/2005/festival-reports/berlin2005/.

About The Author

Marco Abel is Willa Cather Professor of English and Film Studies and chair of the English Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the author of The Counter-Cinema of the Berlin School (Camden House, 2013), which won the 2014 German Studies Association Book Prize, and Violent Affect: Literature, Cinema, and Critique After Representation (University of Nebraska Press, 2007); the co-editor with Chris Wahl, Michael Wedel, and Jesko Jockenhoevel of Im Angesicht des Fernsehens: Der Filmemacher Dominik Graf (text + kritik, 2010), with Jaimey Fisher of The Berlin School and Its Global Contexts: A Transnational Art-Cinema (Wayne State University Press, 2018), with Christina Gerhardt, of Celluloid Revolt: German Screen Cultures and the Long 1968 (Camden House, 2019), and with Jaimey Fisher and Aylin Bademsoy of Christian Petzold: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2023). He has also published numerous essays on post-unification German cinema and interviews with German film directors in journals such as Cineaste, German Studies Review, New German Critique, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and Senses of Cinema, as well as in a number of edited volumes on German cinema history. With Roland Végső, he is the co-editor of the book series Provocations (University of Nebraska Press). He is currently working on his third monograph, Mit Nonchalance am Abgrund: Das Kino der ‘Neuen Münchner Gruppe’ (1964 – 1972), which is under contract with transcript Verlag (Germany) and likely to be published in 2024.

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