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Postwall Prospects: Recent Films from Germany

Since the death of Fassbinder and the passing of the New German Cinema in the early 1980s, the only German titles most American cineastes may have seen are Heimat; Men...; Wings of Desire; The Nasty Girl; Europa, Europa; Maybe, Maybe Not; and Run Lola Run. While we may appreciate this handful of films, we surely remain uncertain about their place in the larger picture of today’s Germany and the diverse energies that define it. With the end of the Cold War, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, and unification, German reality has become dramatically transformed—as has German cinema. The films in this series offer intriguing glimpses of the extraordinary formal energy and expressive fervor at work in contemporary German filmmaking as it witnesses a changing country and assesses the state of things in today’s challenging social and political situation.

These postwall prospects range widely in their formal and stylistic approaches—from the exuberant, whimsical, and playful to the earnest, deadpan, and poignant. As traditional notions of homeland, nation, and identity give way to alternate sources of orientation in an age of transnational and global initiatives, these films transport us to rundown buildings and nocturnal territories, where characters contemplate resonant yet shadowy pasts and altogether uncertain futures. Energetic new directors spirit us through the multicultural neighborhoods of Berlin and Hamburg, probing the psychic and social topographies of today’s young Germans. Contemporary German films, it is clear, have not lost the incendiary potential of the New German Cinema to illuminate obscured worlds and redeem marginal perspectives.

HFA is pleased to welcome the filmmakers Doris Dörrie, Fred Kelemen, and Jan Schütte, who will be present to introduce and discuss their most recent features. The series also celebrates the establishment of a contemporary German Film Collection at the HFA, made possible by a generous gift of more than 150 feature films administered through the auspices of the FilmFernsehFonds Bayern. Both the collection and this program owe a debt of gratitude to Harvard Professor of German Eric Rentschler.

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