Germany Magnified: Farewell to Yesterday
After the capitulation to the allied forces in 1945, Germany was divided in two – and so was Germany’s cinema: the centralised DEFA studio with direct connection to the political roadmap in the East and the detailed film industry in the West, meticulously monitored by the Western Allies. While the DEFA – following the system’s antifascist doctrine – produced a considerable number of questioning films later leading to an exciting wave of ’social realism’, the old-fashioned film industry in the West outdid itself in varying topics of distraction, suppression and transfiguration. The consequence was a profound revolution by a younger generation, claiming ’daddy’s cinema’ to be dead. Exactly 50 years ago, Alexander Kluge’s Farewell to Yesterday (Abschied von gestern) as this generation’s first feature film marked the overall twist in Western German cinema.
And this generation really meant it: in a very strict and effective manner the protagonists of the New Wave established their way of auteur filmmaking, bashing any touch of self-sufficient entertainment or genre. With ongoing success: up to this day the German cinema is divided into film culture and film entertainment – a worldwide rarely made distinction into something like ’quality films’ on the one hand and ’undemanding and mindless films’ on the other hand.
And while especially in the context of film funding the German public regularly and quite conclusively discusses single films’ ’value’ and their ’worthiness’ of being part of the film culture, a range of young filmmakers discover exciting ways of circumventing this dualism by going hybrid. Michael Krummenacher, Sebastian Ko and Jonas Rothlaender tell their classical dramas Sibylle, We Monsters and Fado by using genre mechanisms, Dietrich Brüggemann and AKIZ make generously use of the entertainment stock to masterfully address serious subjects in Heil and The Nightmare, and directors like Johannes Schmid create an imagery of pure beauty without losing the narrative focus in Agnes. And in documentary films directors like Laurentia Genske, Robin Humboldt and Lisei Caspers handle fiction tools very naturally to narrate reality in Am Kölnberg and Stranded. Strategies of entertainment, genre film and cinematic passion to address arthouse film topics: This formal crossover is indeed a ’farewell to yesterday’ as it may help overcoming a dualism of German film culture which has steadily developed in the last 50 years. Germany Magnified: Farewell to Yesterday invites you to discover eight thrilling examples of this recent German cinema.
Organised in cooperation with Goethe Institut Bratislava