Beginning in the mid-1990s, a loose affiliation of filmmakers, graduates of the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin, began creating films that offered a new, aesthetically-driven form of cinema. Abandoning the post-totalitarian context embraced by most commercially popular German films at the time, they pursued a stylized realism rooted in the post-Wall present tense. Though the “Berlin School” is a critics’ designation and not an artistic declaration—the filmmakers share no manifesto and reject dogmatic practice—the films of the Berlin School offer a compelling cinematic expression of the search for new identities in a time of societal change, and have become one of the most influential auteur movements to emerge from Europe in the new millennium.
Published in conjunction with the first New York retrospective of Berlin School film, which ends today with Christian Petzold’s widely acclaimed Barbara, The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule presents an engrossing overview of this movement and, more importantly, a platform for the filmmakers themselves, who are strikingly as articulate in their writings as they are in their films. The book features essays, observations, and interviews from key filmmakers Christian Petzold, Thomas Arslan, Christoph Hochhäusler, Valeska Grisebach, Benjamin Heisenberg, and actress Nina Hoss.
Interspersed in between these are contributions from curators, critics, and scholars including Rajendra Roy, Anke Leweke, Dennis Lim, and Rainer Rother that examine the framework and characteristics of Berlin School films; the rise of strong female principals; and the more recent films of the second and third generation of the Berlin School. Building on MoMA’s long history of scholarship on the subject of German cinema, The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule provides a foundation for new research on contemporary German filmmaking.
For more of The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule, download a free sample.