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More than Tell and Heidi
German-Swiss Film Relations

37th International Film History Conference

20 (Opening) - 23 November 2024, Hamburg

Announcement and Call for Papers

Over the decades, numerous literary classics 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 co-productions across borders in silent films, such as DCERY EVINY / EVAS TÖCHTER / ANNY … FILLE D’ÈVE (1927/28, CS/GER/CH) with the popular Czech duo Karel Lamač and Anny Ondra.
In the early 1930s, the introduction of the sound film and the associated increased cost of filmmaking forced producers to initiate international co-productions, opening up a larger sales area by combining various German-speaking markets.
When the production of the Brecht film KUHLE WAMPE ran into financial problems in Germany in 1931/32, 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.
During the production of these films, (Jewish) emigrants were prohibited from taking up gainful employment. However, numerous filmmakers came from Germany and continued their careers in Switzerland at the theater (Schauspielhaus Zürich) and thereby were thus also able to be successful in film. The simultaneous real demarcations against refugees, anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist tendencies in Swiss political circles, as well as the attempts to oppose them, were only dealt with in films by a younger generation of filmmakers in the years after the war.
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 provided templates for film adaptations, many of which are international.
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.
All these developments and the diverse bilateral and international interdependencies are the subject of the XXI. cinefest and the 37th International Film History Conference.

Possible topics at the conference:

  • Co-productions of the 1930s
  • Production companies (Terra-Film, Praesens-Film, Gloriafilm, …)
  • GLV – Geistige Landesverteidigung (spiritual national defense) and the Film
  • Presence of German films in Switzerland 1933-1945
  • Role of Exiles in Swiss Film
  • Reappraisal of Switzerland’s role vis-à-vis Nazi Germany
  • Swiss co-production with the GDR
  • Location Switzerland
  • Film adaptations of classics (Gottfried Keller, Robert Walser, Max Frisch, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Martin Suter,…)
  • View of the other country in the film
  • Personnel exchange between countries
  • Co-productions and exchanges with third countries (a.o. Central Europe)

Further suggestions are welcome.

Presentations are limited to ca. 20 minutes, followed by a discussion. Conference languages are German or English. (No live translation available). The conference is expected to take place in hybrid form (face-to-face and video stream). Speakers will receive the festival catalog as well as a conference accreditation, which also entitles them to attend the cinema events from 20 – 24 November 2024.
As always, we will do our best to support presenters from out of town with a travel fund.
Following the conference, the revised presentations will be published in a book, which will be published by edition text+kritk in fall 2025. By attending the conference, the presenters agree to publication. (Deadline for submission of texts 15 Januray 2025).
You are welcome to send suggestions for presentations in the form of an abstract (about 1500 characters) and a short biography must be sent to by June 1st 2024.

In preparation for the congress and festival, an internal screening colloquium will take place from 24 – 26 April 2024 at Bundesarchiv, Lichterfelde site (Finckensteinallee 63). If you are interested in participating, please write to
A participation fee of 20 Euros will be charged to help cover associated expenses.

XXI. cinefest – International Festival of German Film Heritage and the 37th Film History Conference are organized by CineGraph Hamburg and the Bundesarchiv in cooperation with numerous national and international institutions.

Conception: Hans-Michael Bock, Erika Wottrich
Consultation: Petra Rauschenbach, Martin Girod, Frédéric Maire, Nicole Reinhard, Hannes Brühwiler
Organisation: Erika Wottrich, Justina Bielicke
Coordination Bundesarchiv: Florian Höhensteiger
Technical support: George Riley

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