Contemporary German film marks the beginning of a new era. While maintaining awareness of their traditions, a generation of young filmmakers has developed new forms of film aesthetics. At the same time, this turning point occurred on a specific date. Beginning in 1989, the symbolic date of fundamental changes in Europe and the bipolarized postwar world, a new desire for investigation and invention emerged. So, the most interesting films of this artistic and cultural new beginning display intriguing relations to the social and political transitions of their time. By scrutinizing these works, two related aspects are revealed: fascinating insights into a new generation of filmmakers and challenging perspectives on Germany in transition.
Berlin has been at the crossroads of these developments. Having been the capital of five different states over the past one hundred years, Berlin embodies Germany’s modern political history. Since the breakdown of the iron curtain, the city has sought to restore its status as one of the centers of the global film industry, as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. A group of most inventive filmmakers has initiated the so called “Berlin School” of contemporary filmmaking. In short: Berlin is the place where one can not only observe contemporary German film, but also directly grasp its intriguing dynamics.
In our course, we will examine major representatives of the contemporary German film scene. We will be dealing with distinguished movies (such as Run Lola Run, Good bye Lenin!, and The Life of Others) which we will analyze in their historical and aesthetic contexts. We will discuss filmmakers like Andreas Dresen, who grew up in East Germany, or Tom Tykwer, who comes from the West, or Fatih Akin, whose parents migrated from Turkey to Hamburg. We will learn about trends, schools and genres and about historical, aesthetic, and economic developments of German cinema. And we will explore the lively film city Berlin by various field trips, for example, visiting the German Cinema Archive, or experiencing major Berlin film sites on a guided walking tour.