The 1940s : a decade of extreme conditions and social unrest brutal economic conditions, a devastated infrastructure and tight political control. The general topic stays but with new perspectives.
In 2008, under the title All in pieces !…?, cinefest and the International Film History Conference investigated how cinema in the 1940s was used for propaganda purposes and investigated films for and about young people. In 2009 there will be more of a focus on filmmakers’ reaction to war and the aftermath. What artistic solutions did film directors in different European countries find to handle the chaos and the human and cultural catastrophes around them?
The central focus will again be the repercussions of the general economical and political situation on the aesthetic and artistic production. One facet of this will be a look at the fractures or continuities in filmmakers’ careers.
A selection of genre films will cover thrillers and comedies as well as musicals in the cinemas of different political systems of the 1940s. How did the standards and style of diverse genres prove resistant to change or find new ways influenced by the times? How did the political situation put a stamp on artistic decisions?
cinefest 2009 will look into the indestructible career of actress and dancer Marika Rökk (Die Frau meiner Träume, Kind der Donau), into Nazi and anti-Nazi thrillers (Der Täter ist unter uns, Cloak and Dagger), into detective stories from the early postwar years (Razzia, Blockierte Signale) and test how the atmosphere of the period is inscribed in comedies such as Unser Fräulein Doktor, Kein Platz für Liebe and Arche Nora.
Another area of investigation will be how German and European filmmakers dealt with the traumas of the immediate past and the burning problems of the years directly after the war. How did they treat the topic of anti-Semitism right after the discovery of the horrible results? Morituri, The Illegals, Lang ist der Weg tell it from the German and/or Jewish perspective, Ostatni etap and Ulica Graniczna from the Polish side. Other directors escape into historical periods, e.g. G. W. Pabst with Der Prozeß or Erich Engel with Affaire Blum.
Other models for film treatment of the contemporary situation included episodic narratives (In jenen Tagen), the revival of the stylistic traditions of Weimar realist films or Soviet cinema (Freies Land), satirical revues (Berliner Ballade) or filmmakers’ self-reflective ventures such as Film ohne Titel.
The attempts of French metteurs-en-scène to come to terms with the German Occupation and the activities of the Résistance resulted in stylistically remarkable films such as La bataille du rail and Le silence de la mer.
Examples of Swiss cinematography of the decade show how the country’s delicate position as a direct neighbour to the Nazi-Reich was mirrored in patriotic productions poised between appeasement and internationalistic posturing.
To put the German cinema of the 1940s into an international perspective, cinefest and the International Film History Conference will investigate the stylistic influence of Hollywood on Nazi cinema as well as international trends such as Neorealism or Film noir. Another interesting aspect will be the delayed reception of foreign films in post-war Germany.
The comparison of German and British films will reveal interesting findings on the degree to which filmmakers’ styles and subjects were influenced by the political systems and traditions of both nations. Films by the directing team of Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger (49th Parallel, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp) or Carol Reed (Night Train to Munich, The Way Ahead, The Third Man) will be contrasted with the gloomy films of German director Peter Pewas (Der verzauberte Tag, Straßenbekanntschaft) and others.