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XXI. cinefest - International Festival of German Film Heritage

More than Tell and Heidi
German-Swiss Film Relations

15. - 24. November 2024

at cinema Metropolis (Kleine Theaterstr. 10, 20354 Hamburg)

Die Zürcher Verlobung (1956/57, Helmut Käutner): Paul Hubschmid, Liselotte Pulver:
Source: DFF - Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum

cinefest 2024 will explore the various relationships between (German-)Swiss and German film.
Over the decades, numerous literary classics known from school literatur have repeatedly provided templates for adaptations in various countries, e.g. Gottfried Keller’s »Kleider machen Leute« (1921, Hans Steinhoff; 1941, Helmut Käutner; 1963, Paul Verhoeven) or »Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe« (1941, Hans Trommer; 1967, Willi Schmidt; 1983, Siegfried Kühn).
Early on, there were cross-border co-productions in silent films, such as DCERY EVINY / EVAS TÖCHTER / ANNY … FILLE D’ÈVE (1927/28, CS/GER/CH) with the Czech duo Karel Lamač and Anny Ondra, who are popular throughout Europe.
The genre of the mountain film, which was particularly popular in the 1920s/30s, offered itself – if only for geographical reasons – for collaboration: DER KAMPF UMS MATTERHORN, 1928, Mario Bonnard, Nunzio Malasomma, KOL: Arnold Fanck; DIE HERRGOTTSGRENADIERE / DER GOLDENE GLETSCHER, 1932, Anton Kutter.
In the early 1930s, the introduction of the sound film forced producers to make international co-productions because of the increased costs, in order to open up a larger sales area by combining the various German-speaking markets. Whenin 1931/32 the production of the Brecht film KUHLE WAMPE ran into financial problems in Germany, the Polish-born Lazar Wechsler, who had founded the Praesens-Film in Zurich, financially ensured its completion. At the same time – and at the other end of the political spectrum – he produced TANNENBERG. EIN DOKUMENTARISCHER FILM ÜBER DIE SCHLACHT VON TANNENBERG, which, however, was not distributed in Switzerland. Wechsler’s company Praesens-Film celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2024 and will be represented in the programme with many of its films that are important for Swiss film history.
From 1931 to 1935, the Swiss Scotoni family controlled Terra Film in Berlin, one of the most important German production companies. In this context – under the artistic direction of the Nazi writer Hanns Johst – one of the numerous film adaptations of Tell was made in this context, with Conrad Veidt as Gessler and Emmy Sonnemann (later: Göring) as Hedwig Tell.
There was no direct activity of (Jewish) emigrants, as they were prohibited from taking up gainful employment. However, numerous filmmakers came from Germany and continued their careers here at the theater (Schauspielhaus Zürich) and were thus also able to be successful in film, those were directors such as Leopold Lindtberg (FÜSILIER WIPF, 1938; MATTO REGIERT, 1946/47) or actors such as Heinrich Gretler and Leonard Steckel.
In view of the political developments on the other side of the border, some filmmakers in Switzerland tried to create a special homeland positioning against Nazi Germany by emphasizing, for example, stories of vigilant neutrality in the First World War or the history of the Swiss Confederation: GILBERTE DE COURGENAY. EIN FILM AUS DER GRENZBESETZUNG 1914-1918 (1941, Franz Schnyder; KOL: Hermann Haller), LANDAMMANN STAUFFACHER (1941, Leopold Lindtberg).
It was not until the years after the war that a younger generation of filmmakers dealt with the real demarcations against refugees – the motto »The boat is full« –, anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist tendencies in Swiss political circles, as well as the attempts to oppose them. Examples of this are feature films such as KONFRONTATION – DAS ATTENTAT VON DAVOS (1974, Rolf Lyssy), DAS BOOT IST VOLL (1980/81, Markus Imhoof) and GLUT (1983, Thomas Koerfer) as well as in documentaries such as DIE ERSCHIESSUNG DES LANDESVERRÄTERS ERNST S. (1975/76, Dindo), ES IST KALT IN BRANDENBURG – HITLER TÖTEN (1978-80, Villi Hermann, Niklaus Meienberg, Hans Stürm), and later GRÜNINGERS FALL (1997, Dindo).
After the war, well-known Swiss artists such as Bernhard Wicki, Maximilian Schell, Paul Hubschmid and Liselotte Pulver – often in German-Swiss co-productions – were mainly active in Germany, for example in the Hamburg production DIE ZÜRCHER VERLOBUNG (1956/57, Helmut Käutner).
Writers such as Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Lukas Hartmann and Max Frisch provide templates for film adaptations, many of which are international: ES GESCHAH AM HELLICHTEN TAG / EL CEBO (1958, Ladislao Vajda), PESTALOZZIS BERG (1988/89, Peter von Gunten), HOMO FABER / THE VOYAGER (1990, Volker Schlöndorff), JUSTIZ (1993, Hans W. Geissendörfer).
In the 1960s/70s, parallel to the Young German Cinema and often with a mix of personnel and – through the involvement of German and Swiss TV stations – a “new wave” also developed in Western Switzerland, for example with DER TOD DES FLOHZIRKUSDIREKTORS (1972/73, Thomas Koerfer), SCHATTEN DER ENGEL (1975, Daniel Schmid), DIE SCHWEIZERMACHER (1978, Rolf Lyssy) with the actors Emil Steinberger and Walo Lüönd, who were also popular in Germany.
There were even some connections with the GDR: in 1978 Egon Günther filmed URSULA; In 1983, Siegfried Kühn filmed ROMEO UND JULIA AUF DEM DORFE, both of which were provided by the »bourgeois realist« Gottfried Keller.

Catalog cinefest 2024

At cinefest, an extensive catalogue with reviews and materials on the films and themes of the festival will be published again.

Integral part of the festival is the37th International Film History Conference.It will take place November 21-23 in the Gästehaus of the University of Hamburg.

Discussion forums on current and archival topics accompany cinefest.


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