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New German Cinema: Alternative Visions and Utopian Designs


November 1 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Kings of the Road (Im Lauf der Zeit)

Directed by Wim Wenders
West Germany 1976, 16mm, b/w, 176 min.
With Rüdiger Vogler, Hanns Zischler, Lisa Kreuzer
German with English subtitles

Wenders’s ultimate road movie follows an itinerant cinema mechanic (Vogler) and his partner (Zischler) as they drive through marginal towns along the border of the former East and West Germanies. Episodic in structure and leisurely in tempo, Kings of the Road blends scenes of highways and towns with references to the movies of Godard, Ozu, Lang, and others—all the while creating a subtle rite of passage for its road-bound protagonists. As the film tracks the motions of these figures in a landscape, states of mind and senses of place emerge powerfully.

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November 6 (Monday) 9:30 pm

The American Friend (Der amerikanische Freund)

Directed by Wim Wenders
West Germany 1977, 35mm, color, 123 min.
With Bruno Ganz, Dennis Hopper, Lisa Kreuzer
German with English subtitles

International intrigue, art and homicide, film and contemporary culture form the matrix of themes that underpin Wenders’s brilliant quasi-thriller, loosely adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel Ripley’s Game. A terminally ill picture framer in Hamburg (Ganz) reluctantly agrees to become a hit man to insure the future of his soon-to-be widow (Kreuzer). Duplicity and ambiguity reign as he crosses paths with double-crossing killers (including filmmaker Sam Fuller) and shady American art dealer Tom Ripley, played by Dennis Hopper in cowboy gear.

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November 13 (Monday) 9 pm

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum)

Directed by Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta
West Germany 1975, 16mm, color, 106 min.
With Angela Winkler, Mario Adorf, Dieter Laser
German with English subtitles

An international success of the New German Cinema, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum is a tense adaptation of Heinrich Böll’s novel about the power of the mass media to inspire guilt by association. A young woman (Winkler) spends the night with a young man she has met at a party, who turns out to be an alleged terrorist. After suffering intense scrutiny at the hands of the German police, the judiciary, and—worst of all—the right-wing tabloid press, Katharina fights to retain her honor and, in the process, becomes transformed.


November 15 (Wednesday) 9:45 pm

Ludwig Requiem for a Virgin King (Ludwig—Requiem für einen jungfräulichen König)

Directed by Hans Jürgen Syberberg
West Germany 1972, 16mm, color, 134 min.
With Harry Baer, Peter Kern, Ingrid Caven
German with English subtitles

In this wildly eclectic meditation on Ludwig the Second of Bavaria—mad visionary and aesthetic recluse—inconoclastic filmmaker and stage director Syberberg (Our Hitler, Parsifal) fuses a panoply of Germanic cultural and political allusions into a visually arresting, intellectually challenging film work. Constructed in twenty-eight tableaux, the film melds modern German history with Wagnerian stagecraft, high German art with Nazi kitsch, into a hybrid style that is Syberberg’s hallmark.

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November 20 (Monday) 9 pm

The Marriage of Maria Braun (Die Ehe der Maria Braun)

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
West Germany 1978, 35mm, color, 120 min.
With Hanna Schygulla, Klaus Löwitsch, Ivan Desny
German with English subtitles

A parable of post–World War II Germany, Fassbinder’s film recounts the transformation of an impoverished war bride (Schygulla) into a mercenary business woman. Best known of Fassbinder’s trilogy of historical films about the Federal Republic’s "economic miracle" of the 1950s and one of the major productions of the New German Cinema, The Marriage of Maria Braun is equally a melodrama of the highest order—Fassbinder’s successful realization of his desire to create for Germany the equivalent of a classic Hollywood movie.

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November 21 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Veronika Voss (Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss)

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
West Germany 1982, 16mm, b/w, 104 min.
With Rosel Zech, Annemarie Düringer, Armin Mueller-Stahl
German with English subtitles

The second installment of Fassbinder’s trilogy of films on the Federal Republic in the 1950s, Veronika Voss focuses on those who could not adapt to the post-war culture. This impeccably stylish work—evoking at once the glossy look of Germany’s wartime melodramas and the canny retrospection of Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard—engages a sports writer to unravel the mystery of an aging former film star, now addicted to morphine and visions of the past.

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November 27 (Monday) 9 pm

Marianne and Julliane (Die Bleierne Zeit)

Directed by Margarethe von Trotta
West Germany 1981, 35mm, color, 114 min.
With Jutta Lampe, Barbara Sukowa, Rüdiger Vogler
German with English subtitles

Margarethe von Trotta’s masterpiece zeroes in on the psychological relationship of two sisters, one the editor of a progressive feminist journal (Lampe), the other a committed revolutionary who has been jailed by the police (Sukowa). The Baader-Meinhof era comes to life in this extraordinary melding of the personal and political, where the tension between stands that are either too safe or too shrill comes into sharp relief.

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November 28 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Germany, Pale Mother (Deutschland bleiche Mutter)

Directed by Helma Sanders-Brahms
West Germany 1979, 16mm, color, 145 min.
With Eva Mattes, Ernst Jacobi, Elisabeth Stepanek
German with English subtitles

Helma Sanders-Brahms’s controversial saga about the plight of German women during and after the war opens with the voices of two women: Bertolt Brecht’s daughter, who reads the poem for which the film is named ("Let others speak of their own disgrace, I speak of mine . . ."); and the director herself, who as the character Anna begins to tell the story of her own mother. It begins in 1939 with the brief courtship and marriage of a young German couple, and moves on to the wife’s life of deprivation and courage during her husband’s absence in the war and her tremendous difficulty in reintegrating into the postwar culture, reinfused with male presence.

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December 4 (Monday) 9 pm

Men (Männer)

Directed by Doris Dörrie
West Germany 1985, 35mm, color, 99 min.
With Uwe Ochsenknecht, Heiner Lauterbach, Ulrike Kriener
German with English subtitles

Author and filmmaker Doris Dörrie received international attention for this lively sex farce, underwritten by a decidedly feminist dimension. The story revolves around a successful middle-aged businessman who leaves his wife after she confesses to an affair. In an attempt at retribution, he moves in with her lover and insinuates himself into the new roommate’s low-achieving life. Through delicious plot complications and an unerring eye for the ironies of daily life, Dörrie creates a finely wrought contemporary comedy of manners worthy of the cinema of Lubitsch.

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December 5 (Tuesday) 9:15 pm

Nobody Loves Me (Keiner liebt mich)

Directed by Doris Dörrie
Germany 1995, 35mm, color, 104 min.
With Maria Schrader, Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss, Michael von Au
German with English subtitles

This quirky film tells the story of Fanny Fink, a death-obsessed airport security officer about to turn thirty. She disclaims the need for a man but is nonetheless desperate to find one. Encouraged by a gay African "psychic" who lives in the same tenement block, she tries to get it on with her landlord. Things, however, go predictably awry.

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December 11 (Monday) 9 pm

Run, Lola, Run (Lola rennt)

Directed by Tom Tykwer
Germany 1998, 35mm, color, 80 min.
With Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Nina Petri
German with English subtitles

A critical and popular success at home and abroad, Tykwer’s inventive Run, Lola, Run sets a frenetic pace (fueled by the techno-score of Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil) as it simultaneously enacts three resolutions to its thriller plot line. Small-time gang courier Manni has misplaced 100,000 dm in a bag and has twenty minutes to find or replace it. Girlfriend Lola comes to his aid, racing through the streets of Berlin as split-second decisions become life altering. For Tykwer, the film is about romance and the "sheer, unadorned pleasure of speed."

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December 12 (Tuesday) 9:30 pm

Wintersleepers (Winterschläfer)

Directed by Tom Tykwer
Germany 1997, 16mm, color, 124 min.
With Florian Daniel, Heino Ferch, Josef Bierbichler
German with English subtitles

Four twenty-something characters are brought together in a snowy village somewhere in the Alps: a film exhibitor, a nurse, a translator, and a ski instructor. Two romantic liaisons ensue, with varying degrees of commitment and success. One child is killed. One is born. Spectacular snowscape panoramas and quotations to films as diverse as Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey form the backdrop to this microcosmic analysis of a confused and uncommitted generation.

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