Towards the end of the 67th iteration of the Berlin International Film Festival, one of Germany’s best contemporary directors, Dominik Graf, showcased his latest essay film, Offene Wunde deutscher Film (Open Wounds – A Journey Through German Genre Films), a sequel to Verfluchte Liebe deutscher Film (Doomed Love – A Journey Through German Genre Films, 2016), both of which he co-directed with Johannes F. Siefert. Graf is an outspoken advocate of genre filmmaking and a sympathetic but skeptical interlocutor of his colleagues (and friends) associated with the so-called Berlin School.1 In these two films, Graf and Siefert dig deep into the archive of German film and television history to write what one might consider a counter-genealogy of German film. This cinematic diptych is a fascinating, highly idiosyncratic survey of long forgotten treasures that, so the film reminds us, once delighted a sizeable audience. Excavating from the dustbin of German film history posters, trailers, and excerpts from films unknown to and forgotten by all but the most ardent aficionados of German B- and C-movies, these two films powerfully argue for a position that is quite familiar to fans of Graf’s work – whether his films or his copious and always astute writings on (German) film history: to wit, that Germany’s obsession with films that are pedagogically valuable (such as adaptations of famous literary texts, middlebrow productions about various historical events and their aftermaths, or films that aim to be film art without regard for a wider audience) has destroyed the possibility in Germany to make films within the context of a proper film industry.2 That is, for decades now, German cinema has lacked the production circumstances necessary for creating genre films for the big screen. Consequently, the very country that once used to be at the forefront of genre filmmaking (think of all the great Weimar films) has essentially not only stopped making genre cinema but also erased its own genre filmmaking tradition from public consciousness, perhaps also because German film historiography has too often neglected the very films Graf and Siefert are trying to recover with their two film essays.

Watching the images of long-forgotten B- and C-grade genre films flash by made me sense the sheer pleasure with which these films unapologetically tried to affect their viewers; and listening to film directors such as Klaus Lemke or Wolfgang Büld recount the making of gems such as Rocker (Klaus Lemke, 1972) and Paul (Klaus Lemke, 1974) or the German New Wave classic Gib Gas – Ich will Spaß (Hangin’ Out, Wolfgang Büld, 1983) made me reflect on the argument the film makes also with the help of both talking-head interviews with critics such as Olaf Möller and Graf’s pleasantly subdued voice-over narrative. Leaving the Delphi theatre, I felt oddly elated, grateful for having been exposed to these fleeting traces of a long-repressed part of German film history that may, at long last, be ready for a comeback. Evidence that this might indeed be the case was already visible at the Locarno Film Festival in 2016, where attendees could enjoy a superbly curated retrospective of the cinema of the young West Germany.3. As well, the renewed interest in the films of the so-called New Munich Group of the mid to late 1960s, including Lemke as well as Rudolph Thome (Serpil Turhan’s documentary about his work, Überall Blumen / Flowers Everywhere, 2016, played as part of the Berlinale’s Lola section), Roger Fritz (formerly assistant to Visconti and director of films such as Mädchen, Mädchen / Girls, Girls, 1967), the duo May Spils and Werner Enke who became famous with their first feature, Zur Sache, Schätzchen (Go For It, Baby, 1968), evinces a desire to rediscover what once used to be an integral part of German filmmaking.

Berlinale film festival 2017

Offene Wunde deutscher Film (Klaus Lemke, shooting with Christiane Krüger, Monika Zinnenberg, and Dieter Geissler 48 Stunden bis Acapulco (48 Hours to Acapulco, 1967)

Consider, for that matter, also what some have identified as a turn to genre among the filmmakers associated with the Berlin School. While someone like Christian Petzold, as Jaimey Fisher has persuasively demonstrated in his monograph, has always made films in the “graveyard of genre filmmaking,” other Berlin School directors long seemed opposed to working with the remainders to be found in this cemetery.4 And, in any case, the reception of these films certainly typecast the Berlin School as promulgating a film aesthetic that is hostile to any spectatorial desire for experiencing pleasure. Yet, of late, a number of these filmmakers other than Petzold have also begun to explore the possibilities of genre, as can be seen in Christoph Hochhäusler’s Die Lügen der Sieger (The Lies of the Victors, 2014), a polit-thriller of sorts, Benjamin Heisenberg’s Über-Ich und Du (Superegos, 2014), a buddy comedy, or Thomas Arslan’s films Im Schatten (In the Shadows, 2010), a crime film evocative of Jean-Pierre Melville’s masterpieces and Gold (2013), a contemporary reimagining of the Western form that divided the audience when it premiered at the Berlinale a few years ago. Arslan’s latest film, Helle Nächte (Bright Nights), can be considered an extension of its immediate predecessor. Its setting replaces the thickness of the Canadian woods that feature so prominently in Gold with the sparsely populated scenery of the far northern regions of Norway; and instead of Gold’s small group of immigrants hoping to find their fortune in Alaska (where, so their guide promises, they will find riches in gold), Bright Nights zooms in on an even more pared-down community: a father and his son, estranged from one another, on a road trip that may or may not result, by film’s end, in the possibility of a new beginning for their relationship.

As a great admirer of Arslan’s films, I nevertheless initially found myself agreeing with critics arguing that this time around Arslan might have gone too far in pursuing his particular brand of minimalism. However, since then, I have found myself growing fonder of Bright Nights, noticing how its measured pace in fact worked – and continues to work – on me, in the process making me re-member, re-see, and re-sense its peculiar and subtle pleasures. And my recollection, and perhaps re-writing or re-imagining of what I got to see at the Berlinale Palace, almost inevitably circles back to the film’s astonishing, and much commented-upon, climactic moment: a scene in which as viewers we are subjected to the windshield’s point of view as the car slowly winds its way into an ever-thickening fog until we literally can no longer see the narrow road and therefore are forced to trust that the car does not drive (us) down the mountainous slope that moments before we could still vaguely perceive to the right of the car. As is typical for Arslan, and many Berlin School films, Bright Nights is leisurely paced and undoubtedly tests our patience as it nevertheless moves to a moment of affective transformation – one that we cannot anticipate, that we literally do not see or sense coming. However, when it occurs, it not only irrupts on the film’s diegetic level, transforming its overall texture (and possibly its protagonists); rather, it may also, at least potentially, do some work on us, provided, of course, that one has managed to suspend one’s impatience with the film, its characters, and the director who, as some have pointed out, does not seem to add much new to the genres he seems to play with, be it the road movie or the domestic (father-son) drama.

I, too, found myself shifting somewhat impatiently in my seat while watching the barebones plot unfold (if we can call it that). As someone who has spent the last dozen or so years working on the films of the Berlin School – and has taken great pleasure in doing so! – I was keenly aware of my sense that Arslan’s film may be driving into a dead-end.5 Yet, the film’s central moment of trance-formation subtly seems to have left its mark on me, for I have kept thinking about it, re-seeing and re-sensing it: the beauty of its ineffable and indescribable affective force that exceeds whatever the plot, as far as there is one, is about. The ability to use repetition – of long takes of the driving car, of the quietness of the landscape, of the characters neither doing nor saying much of anything, and even of the genre elements that Arslan joins from the various traditions he draws on – in order to create a moment of pure difference, that is becoming: this, I think, is the hallmark of both Arslan’s filmmaking and the Berlin School at large. This creation of becoming through seemingly monotonous, unexciting repetition – that is: the creation of a pure event – seeks to address the effectivity of its affective force at a future moment of reception rather than the one that a viewer may be capable of performing at or near the moment of initial encounter. Such filmmaking is predicated on an asignifying logic that forces viewers to practice a mode of reception in which we have to trust that we may be able to say, at a time yet to come, that the film had an impact on us already at the very moment of initial viewing, even though, at this point, the film’s representational level was not yet able to impress us (in the haptic sense).

Berlinale film festival 2017

Helle Nächte

Yet, it must be said that this is not the kind of film Graf has in mind when advocating the lost genre-filmmaking tradition he and his collaborator excavate in Open Wound and its predecessor. In this respect, a film that reminded me of Arslan’s In the Shadows, Lars Henning’s Zwischen den Jahren (End of the Season) would probably please Graf more than Arslan’s. Focusing on Becker, a middle-aged man who, upon his release from prison, is simply trying to mind his own business but finds himself gradually confronted with the ghost of his past in the form of a man whose wife and daughter he had murdered years ago, Henning’s neo-noir-like revenge film grounds its generic qualities in a subtly stylised realism that is not unlike that of Arslan’s minor masterpiece, which it evokes not least also because of the excellent performance by Peter Kurth, who plays an important supporting role in In the Shadows. In a way, End of the Season could be seen as taking its cue from Arslan’s understated crime film, playing in its shadows, as it were, in a way that Arslan has not done so himself of late, instead replacing the shady environment of Berlin with the clear lights of the Canadian wilderness and with the even brighter lights of Norway’s Arctic Fjords in the summer. At the risk of overly simplifying matters, End of the Season might be understood as seeking to bridge the gap between, on the one hand, unrepentant genre filmmaking as advocated by Graf and, on the other, a muted yet smart re-working of that very tradition as practiced, on occasion and with some hesitation, by Berlin School filmmakers such as Arslan.

Berlinale film festival 2017

Peter Kurth in Zwischen den Jahren

In stark contrast to End of the Season, let alone Bright Nights, is Tiger Girl, Jakob Lass’s much anticipated follow-up to his prize-winning, Love Steaks (2013). Another attempt to practice what the director’s so-called Fogma manifesto postulates, the film mobilises a highly energetic handheld aesthetic to allow for the improvised realisation of a bare-bones script.6 It follows the exploits of its two young female protagonists as their relationship evolves from something akin to emerging friendship to animosity to, possibly, a new beginning with the film’s last moment when – utterly unmotivated – the film’s eponymous character (Ella Rumpf) rescues Maggie (Maria Dragus) from the police. Why Tiger does this remains unclear, however. Indeed, as I was watching the film, I kept wondering about what exactly the film wants from the viewer. Initially, I was intrigued by Tiger, an anarchic woman with a predilection for violent outbursts that, however, are governed by a moral code. When in the film’s opening scenes she shows up out of nowhere to guide Maggie and eventually even defend her against three male aggressors in a subway station, the film clearly succeeds in making us take interest in and even root for Tiger as she skillfully administers a world of hurt on these and other antagonists. Yet, as the film progresses and its point of view gradually shifts to Maggie as she transforms herself from a meek and largely inept trainee for police work into a power-drunk vigilante who takes pleasure in randomly assaulting people she encounters as she aimlessly walks the streets of Berlin (whether with Tiger or, eventually, her posse of fellow security-guard trainees), it became increasingly difficult for me not to feel alienated from the film, not least since it simply does not do enough to make the viewer sympathise with, or even just take interest in, either protagonist.

Such judgment, of course, might very well be symptomatic of the very position toward filmmaking that Lass aims to attack: namely, one that is not just interested in a film having a kickass attitude. The problem for me, however, is that it seems unclear precisely what attitude the film actually has, whether towards its characters, the world they exist in, filmmaking in general, or us as viewers. As a result, its sheer energy – enhanced by the pre-scored soundtrack, a saturated colour palette of neon and flares, and of course by numerous moments of stylised violence – quickly exhausts the viewer. In this regard, Tiger Girl could be seen as producing a mirror effect to the exhaustion a viewer might feel when watching Bright Nights, and it seems unlikely to me that someone who likes the former would also like the latter (or vice versa). However, beyond personal preference, I would submit that the problem with Lass’s film is precisely that it does not achieve a moment of transformation in the viewer. For while its unmotivated and rather glib ending might be taken as representing some moment of transformation for the two protagonists (though it is unclear what the transformation might consist of), it seems to me that this transformative power to which the film lays claim here does not manage to affect the viewer. As a result, the film, whether or not one might enjoy it in the moment, is forgettable, with its cinematic force, which it pushes so relentlessly on the viewer, incapable of transforming itself into something else, into a force that might re-activate itself in the viewer in another moment. In this regard, then, Tiger Girl is not only the opposite of Arslan’s film but also of the greatest of genre films that Graf’s filmic essay wants its viewers to revisit, such as Lemke’s brilliant salvos from the underground, which are films that do not simply lay claim to having an filmic attitude but manage to transform it so that its affective force continues to do work on the viewer long after the details of the films’ plots, thin and often simply irrelevant as they are, have been forgotten. So, while one might at first sight think that the spirit of Tiger Girl is of a kind with Lemke’s brand of filmmaking, it seems to me that Lass’s film, when all is said and done, is merely a simulacrum thereof.

Berlinale film festival 2017

Ella Rumpf and Maria Dragus in Tiger Girl

While Tiger Girl was one of the more anticipated German films at this year’s Berlinale, some of the less noted ones ultimately would have deserved more attention than Lass’s film. I am thinking here of Gabi, a short film by Michael Fetter Nathansky in which the titular character is seen quietly suffering in her environment as she nevertheless holds on to her sense of humour and determination, knowing very well that she might not be granted the chance to have her own desires fulfilled as she finds herself permanently called upon to help others; or Mascha Schilinski’s Die Tochter (Dark Blue Girl), in which we witness a seven year-old girl turning into a master manipulator to secure her unique position as her father’s little queen at the very moment when he and his former wife appear to have a chance at rejuvenating their dormant romantic feelings for one another; or Mia Spengler’s Back for Good in which a fading reality TV-starlet gradually rebuilds her relationship with the daughter (who thinks they are sisters) she neglected in order to pursue her five minutes of fame that are now rapidly slipping through her manicured fingers.

Berlinale film festival 2017

Back for Good

These films, however, are unlikely to strike the fancy of viewers and critics in either Germany or abroad. This might be different, however, for four films that I like to think of as forming a dialectical relationship. First, as thesis, there is the much-discussed international co-production, Le jeune Karl Marx aka The Young Karl Marx aka Der junge Karl Marx by Raoul Peck, whose acclaimed I Am Not Your Negro (2016) also showed at the festival. Narrating Marx’s career till the completion of The Communist Manifesto in 1847, the film exhibits all the traps of the kind of bourgeois biopic-cum-costume film that brings to mind Merchant-Ivory productions or, for that matter, Es war einmal in Deutschland (Bye Bye Germany, Sam Garbarski), which, like Peck’s, screened in the Berlinale Special section. Both films seek to impress viewers with their sense of authenticity accomplished through set design, yet, at least to this viewer, both fall into the same intellectual trap. Set in Frankfurt after the end of World War Two, By Bye Germany tells the story of David (Moritz Bleibtreu), who, Ocean’s Eleven-like, puts a gang of likeminded survivors together with the goal of advancing their economic prospects. As they manage to sell products at inflated prices to unsuspecting German customers – something the film rightly endorses as morally justified – David is pressured by an American female officer (Antje Traue) to explain how he managed to survive. Telling her the unlikely story of how he ultimately was supposed to coach Hitler, famously humorless, in the art of telling jokes, David slowly manages to charm his interrogator (yet, the erotic charge between Traue and Bleibrtreu falls utterly flat, it has to be said). By the end of the film, we see David sitting in front of his parental business, which he successfully rebuilt. Directly addressing the viewer, he informs us that unlike his fellow Jews who left Germany once they had the chance, he decided to stay because he did not feel that he could leave the country to the Germans alone, implying (quite rightly, I might add) that Jewish wit has long been an essential character of “German” culture. In other words, Bye Bye Germany, which is based on a true story, is ultimately, meant to be a film about Jewish wit – which is why it is a pity that it is largely void of it.

Analogous to how Bye Bye Germany – a film about wit without wit – does not manage to take seriously what it is ostensibly about, so The Young Marx is a film about revolution without revolutionary spirit. Awash in historical detail – the clothes! the set design! the motely

crew of historical figures such as Pierre Proudhon, Karl Grün, Wilhelm Weitling! – Peck’s film aesthetic regrettably never rises to the occasion of its revolutionary content. While the defense of his aesthetic decisions – middlebrow through and through – surely is, I imagine, that only such an utterly mainstream style of filmmaking stands a chance of finding a larger audience (and thus perhaps might effect a collective revolutionary élan), I find it difficult to fathom why Peck was not more daring (that he is an innovative filmmaker he has proven before, most recently with I Am Not Your Negro). After all, the key argument with which the film presents us – namely, Marx’s insistence that (well-meaning) activism without theory is doomed to failure – affirms the need to abstract from the material lifeworld. In other words, the greatest materialist thinker that has ever lived (as Engels flatters Marx upon their first, rather acrimonious meeting in which the latter is initially full of condescension for the former) argued that while one must not make the Hegelian mistake to start from (abstract) ideas, it is nevertheless necessary to move into the realm of abstraction, that is, of ideas and thus theory.

Translated into filmmaking, then, I want to insist that the lesson Marx teaches – and the film narrates on its representational level – is that for a film to have any chance of having revolutionary effects (and it might of course be naïve to hold on to the belief that any film might ever be able to have such effects…) it must engage in a reflection of its means of production as well. In the absence of doing so, the film ultimately instills in the viewer little more than a desire for what Adorno once scathingly dismissed as “pseudo-activity.” Such desire takes hold, Adorno argued in the context of the 1960s, because of an insufficient examination of why the revolution has not yet arrived. For Adorno, the fact that the revolution had failed to come was precisely a reason to affirm theory. In one of his 1965 lectures on negative dialectics, Adorno argued that “Advanced capitalist society has found ways and means to channel the relentless progress of the means of production in such a way that the equivalence between this progress and the liberation of mankind, which for Marx was par for the course, does not exist anymore; that one can no longer hope that the history of mankind will move towards the right state of affairs out of its own power, and that it then only takes a bit of shaking up of the scaffolding to right everything”7

Berlinale film festival 2017

Engels and Marx, playing chess in Le jeune Karl Marx

Does all of this therefore mean filmmakers have to approach the question of revolutionary politics in the way the admittedly clever – perhaps too clever? – Selbstkritik eines bürgerlichen Hundes (Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois Dog) does? Julian Radlmaier’s film, which I offer here as the anti-thesis to Peck’s film (as well as Bye Bye Germany), is about a fledgling director (played by the filmmaker himself) who tries to impress a female Canadian student by pretending that his latest job as a fruit picker is really research for a communist fairytale film he tries to make (rather than just his means to pay some bills). Unlike Peck’s film, Self-Criticism, as the title already suggests, negotiates the question of revolution not just on its representational (narrative) but also on its formal level. As a viewer, one might be reminded of Godard’s experiments in political filmmaking from the mid-1960s on (a number of scenes reminded me of Weekend [1967], for example) or, for that matter, one of Radlmaier’s main influences, Jean Renoir’s Le Crime de Mr. Lange (The Crime of Monsieur Lange, 1936). The latter’s comedic elements shine through in almost every scene in Self-Criticism. Radlmaier, a graduate of the German Film- and Television Academy in Berlin (dffb), which is traditionally the country’s most intellectual and political (left) film academy, self-consciously and playfully works into his low-budget production a heavy dosage of political discourse, which he stages in a series of humorous and increasingly absurd situations, culminating with the director himself turning into a dog. The film’s goal, it seems, is to show how, as Radlmaier puts it, “the possibility of another world is already latently present in what is given.”8 While I am not sure that the film quite succeeds at sustaining the charming lightness of (political) filmmaking that is undoubtedly present in its first third, it is nevertheless obvious that the director attempts to take seriously precisely what Peck, for whatever (commercial?) reasons was unable to do in his Marx film: to find the right cinematic means that are capable of, on the one hand, delighting the viewer and capturing our imagination through its narrative level while, on the other, simultaneously affecting us with its theoretical attitude, so that we are induced to re-see, re-sense, and re-perceive how the sensible world is distributed, to evoke Jacques Rancière, whom Radlmaier has translated into German.9 For just as the French theorist posits that it is necessary to redistribute the sensible as a means to actualise the premise (not promise) of equality (his work posits equality as a given, that is: as a premise), so Radlmaier argues that the fundamental capacity of the filmic image is to make viewers sense the equality of people. However, it this very ability to sense equality as a premise that most films recodify by peddling stories to us in which equality is held up as a promise (including The Young Marx).

Berlinale film festival 2017

Julian pursuing his love interest at the museum in Selbstkritik eines bürgerlichen Hundes

The question of the “right” relationship between form and content is hardly a new one. Olivier Assayas dramatised it in Après Mai (Something in the Air, 2012), when various characters explicitly debate to what extent revolutionary content in film also requires revolutionary form (or whether the need for revolutionary form is not merely the bourgeois idée fixe par excellence). But of the German productions that I saw at this year’s Berlinale, it was Nicolas Wackerbarth’s Casting that might have found the most compelling synthesis of the form-content dialectic. On the surface a film about the difficult interpersonal dynamics that take place in a film casting environment, Casting subtly oscillates between two levels. First, there is its realistic representation of the relationships between actors, filmmakers and producers as they confront each other during a casting for a television remake of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s masterpiece, Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, 1972). Throughout the film, we witness the actors vying for a role in the film, the relatively inexperienced female director trying to figure out which actress fits best her vision of the Petra von Kant character, and the producers desperately trying to get the production under way in order to stay within their budget. Second, there is the meta-level marked by the presence of Fassbinder’s melodrama. And it is this second level that, as Casting progresses, increasingly transforms the realistic level precisely because of how the rehearsing of Fassbinder’s dialogue is not just staged or re-presented in the casting scenes (with actresses auditioning for the Petra role playing off of Germwin [Andrews Lust], a male substitute actor) but also comments on and eventually becomes part of its realist level.

Berlinale film festival 2017

Casting of Petra von Kant’s character in Casting

Casting’s update of Fassbinder’s basic idea that love is necessarily a power-relation (because there is always someone whose affective investment in the other is more intense than the investment the other is willing to reciprocate) multiplies the original’s economy of desire by virtue of repeatedly staging, and re-staging, moments form the original, but with an ever-changing cast. Through this logic of repetition, the original’s gender dynamic is repeatedly transformed: whereas at one moment, the erotic tension occurs between a female actress Gerwin as he is impersonating a woman, at another iteration it occurs between two actresses, and at yet another between Gerwin and a male actor who eventually arrives to play the male (!) lead, that is a significantly revised version of the Karin character, whom Hanna Schygulla played in Fassbinder’s film. More, in scenes in which the female actresses have to play off of Gerwin, there are moments when the sexual dynamic appears relatively absent; in others, however, one senses an erotic charge, but it what the “nature” of this charge ultimately is remains utterly ambiguous, not least because Gerwin is a homosexual man impersonating a female character while allowing himself to be the foil in response to whom the actresses auditioning for the role of Petra – who in Fassbinder’s film was a lesbian – enact their interpretation of Margit Carstensen’s original performance. An increasingly vertiginous labyrinth of desire permeates the set, so much so that the line between the diegetic and the extra-diegetic vanishes – that is, between the artificial level that The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant assumes in Casting’s realist diegesis and the actors and actresses who, as characters in Casting’s realist level, audition for the film, but also between the film Casting we are watching and our responses to what the film shows us about the relationship between actors vying for the upper hand in order to play in a film that is all about gaining the upper hand in relationships.

Through this ingenious hall-of-mirrors structure, Wackerbarth exemplifies a possible way forward for (German) filmmaking in the present, especially also filmmaking that is invested in the political.10 Unlike The Young Marx that simply repeats the well-established middle-class form of the costume drama as its biopic content stages a revolutionary moment, and unlike Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois Dog that perhaps too closely dwells in its models’ paradigms as it attempts to find the right aesthetic form for its political content, Casting goes the other way. Rather than trying to outdo Fassbinder – by, for example, embracing his film’s memorable and memorably outrageous set design (as if this were possible!) – Wackerbarth abstracts from Fassbinder’s mise-en-scène its most famous element: Nicolas Poussin’s painting Midas and Bacchus that looms obscenely over the heads of its female protagonists, thereby commenting on the action like a Greek chorus would, present exclusively to and for the viewer (none of the protagonists in Bitter Tears ever so much as takes note of it). By abstracting from our over-determined recollection of Fassbinder’s visual strategy, however, Casting reaches its own level of abstraction: without discussing the political diegetically, the film, like Fassbinder’s yet differently so (in an updated fashion) nevertheless performs it aesthetically and, in so doing, ineluctably draws its viewers (perhaps especially those of us who doo recall the original) into its complex discursive formation of power relations – which are relations embedded in and shot through with the industrial, or capitalist, mode of production that constitutes the contemporary German film and television industry. Thus, just like Graf and Siefert’s film offer an implicit – if not explicit – critique of the means of production that are the basis for German filmmaking in the present by reminding us of an alternative that used to be available for German filmmakers, so Wackerbarth’s film’s critique also targets that same basis and manages to do so through its very form.

Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival
9-19 February 2017
Festival website: https://www.berlinale.de/en/HomePage.html



  1. For more on Graf’s work, see Marco Abel, “I Build a Jigsaw Puzzle of a Dream-Factory: An Interview with German Filmmaker Dominik Graf,” Senses of Cinema 55 (July 2010), http://sensesofcinema.com/2010/feature-articles/“‘i-build-a-jigsaw-puzzle-of-a-dream-germany’-an-interview-with-german-filmmaker-dominik-graf”-2/.
  2. See Dominik Graf, Schläft ein Lied in allen Dingen: Texte zum Film (Berlin: Alexander Verlag, 2010).
  3. “Geliebt und verdrängt: Das Kino der jungen Bundesrepublik Deutschland von 1949 bis 1963” was curated by Olaf Möller. See also the accompanying book by Claudia Dillmann and Olaf Möller, eds., Geliebt und verdrängt: Das Kino der jungen Bundesrepublik Deutschland von 1949 bis 1963 (Frankfurt: Deutsches Filminstitut, 2016).
  4. Jaimey Fisher, Christian Petzold (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013). The quotation is from my interview with Petzold, “The Cinema of Identification Gets On My Nerves: An Interview with Christian Petzold,” Cineaste online, 33.3 (summer 2008), http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic432924.files/Interview%20with%20Christian%20Petzold.pdf.
  5. Marco Abel, The Counter-Cinema of the Berlin School (Rochester; Camden House, 2013).
  6. The Fogma manifesto is inspired by the Dogme 95 manifesto. See “Fogma: Regeln sind Freiheit” (Fogma: Rules are Freedom), http://www.lovesteaks.de/FOGMA_-_Regeln_files/FOGMA_Prämissen.jpg.
  7. Theodor W. Adorno, Vorlesung über Negative Dialektik (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2003), p. 76, my translation). What might have been thinkable for Marx, Adorno argued, is no longer thinkable today because the social conditions themselves have changed (a lesson that Marx, in turn, would have surely appreciated).
  8. “Director’s Statement: Markus Nechleba und Julian Radlmaier Talking About Self-criticism of a bourgeois dog,” http://www.fakturafilm.de/dogstatement/.
  9. Jacques Rancière, Bèla Tarr. Die Zeit danach, trans. Julian Radlmaier (Köln: Walther König, 2013).
  10. Wackerbarth is co-editor of Revolver, a German film magazine often associated with the Berlin School and founded by Hochhäusler and Heisenberg.

About The Author

Marco Abel is Willa Cather Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His third monograph, Mit Nonchalance am Abgrund: Das Kino der “Neuen Münchner Gruppe” (1964 – 1972), is forthcoming in September 2024 with transcript Verlag (Germany). He is also 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). He is the co-editor of several books, including, with Jaimey Fisher, of the forthcoming New German Cinema and Its Global Contexts: A Transnational Art Cinema (Wayne State UP, January 2025) as well as The Berlin School and Its Global Contexts: A Transnational Art Cinema (Wayne State UP, 2018). Other books he co-edited include, with Aylin Bademosy and Jaimey Fisher, Christian Petzold: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2023); with Christian Gerhardt Celluloid Revolt: German Screen Cultures and the Long 1968 (Camden House, 2019); and with Chris Wahl, Michael Wedel, and Jesko Jockenhoevel of Im Angesicht des Fernsehens: Der Filmemacher Dominik Graf (text + kritik, 2010). With Roland Végső, he is the co-editor of the book series Provocations (University of Nebraska Press).Marco Abel has also published numerous essays on German cinema and interviews with German film directors in several edited volumes as well as journals such as Cineaste, German Studies Review, New German Critique, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and Senses of Cinema. Together with Jaimey Fisher, he also co-edited a dossier on Christian Petzold for Senses of Cinema (issue 84).

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