The contemporary German directors collectively known as the "Berlin School" constitute the most significant filmmaking movement to come out of Germany since the New German Cinema of the 1970s, not least because their films mark the emergence of a new film language. The Berlin School filmmakers, including Christian Petzold, Thomas Arslan, Angela Schanelec, Christoph Hochhäusler, Ulrich Köhler, Benjamin Heisenberg, Maren Ade, and Valeska Grisebach, are reminiscent of the directors of the New German Autorenkino and of French cinéma des auteurs of the 1960s. This is the first book-length study of the Berlin School in any language. Its central thesis - that the movement should be regarded as a "counter-cinema" - is built around the unusual style of realism employed in its films, a realism that presents images of a Germany that does not yet exist. Abel concludes that it is precisely how these films' images and sounds work that renders them political: they are political not because they are message-driven films but because they are made politically, thus performing a "redistribution of the sensible" - a direct artistic intervention in the way politics partitions ways of doing and making, saying and seeing. Marco Abel is Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
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"Marco Abel's invaluable new book sharpens our focus on the energies and incentives that have produced the remarkable films of the Berlin School. Its exponents, claims Abel, are acutely aware of the present state of things and yet, as filmmakers, willfully untimely and nonsynchronous in their approaches. With ethnographic patience and critical poignance, they register the conditions of existence in postwall Germany and postmillennial Europe in order to disclose aporias and intimate unrealized possibilities. As Abel demonstrates, they are less concerned with representing the real than in rendering things visible and, with utopian resolve, making the provisional quality of the status quo apparent. The subtlety and nuance of Abel's readings allow this extraordinarily rich body of work to resonate with a haunting intensity and a suggestive freshness."
--Eric Rentschler, Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
This is the first book to give an in-depth account of the filmmakers of the Berlin School, whose work is still far too little known in the English-speaking world. Marco Abel gives us lucid and detailed descriptions of these directors and their movies. Just as importantly, he also tells us why these films matter: how they are unique, and how they resist both national and transnational norms of cultural production.
--Steven Shaviro, DeRoy Professor of English, Wayne State University
Marco Abel is Associate Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
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