CFP: Travelers, Wanderers, Nomads, and Visitors: Thinking German Film History from the Margins
We look for contributions to a volume that explores German post-WWII cinema via projects that do not fit territorial, imaginative, or ideological agendas of the nation-state (to be published with Berghahn Books).
Our endeavour accentuates the vicissitudes, disruptions and incongruities that mark German and European history. Scarred by the fundamental ruptures of two lost wars and the Holocaust, culturally compensated by the myth of the “Zero Hour” and despite attempts to write it as progressing success story, German history is characterized by repetitive moments of crisis, conflict and social transformation that had a tremendous impact on German culture and identity. An underlying concept that takes account of the non-linear and fragmentary notion of history, is Siegfried Kracauer’s term “lost causes” that at the same time signifies unrealized possibilities and alternative futures. Our shift in perspective is based on the transnational turns, movement and mobility that explore film within a history of global capitalism, though our approach question national and other concepts of collective identities. Tim Bergfelder mentions that “a history of European Cinema might well begin by exploring the interrelationship between cultural and geographical centers and margins, and by tracing the migratory movements between these poles. “ This concept highlights the need to disclose what was marginalized by dominant trends in global cinema, and includes experiences of failure and defeat in order to rediscover different approaches to past and present political and social conflicts and challenges.
Following a trend towards a transnational redefinition of film history, we focus mainly on individual and often solitary projects, which also allows us to redefine the classic idea of the “auteur”. In more concrete terms, we want to analyse cinematic Grenzgänger:innen to prevailing ideological, thematic, and aesthetic patterns. These films and projects are informed by experiences and formations outside of European cultural history, ideas, and values, and highlight non-Western influences. More often than not, Grenzgänger:innen have been irrelevant to national cinema historiographies and/or stretches imaginations and definition of what German film is – in the eyes of scholars, critics, and audiences. Our endeavour includes foreign film personnel who passed through Germany East and West for personal reasons, arrived from war-torn areas where film industry structures were destroyed, and made films for German television and cinema or whose projects remained unfinished. We think of German-Jewish artists who returned after WWII and their struggles in the German film industry. We consider visions of African, Asian, or Latin American students who were trained in East and West German film schools. We are interested to know of institutions, programs, producers, and cultural functionaries, who have served/serve as agents for an inclusive German film culture.