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Between Film Comedy and Musical

36th International Film History Conference

22 (Opening) – 25 November 2023

Announcement and Call for Papers

Following the success of stage operettas and revues as well as some silent film operettas, the popular genre of sound film operettas and musical comedies emerged in Germany after the introduction of sound film in 1929. (cf. the CineGraph conferences in 1997 and 1998). Parallel to this, during the first phase of talkies in Hollywood so-called backstage musicals developed.
After the Nazis came to power in 1933, a large number of directors (e.g. Wilhelm Thiele), authors (Fritz Rotter, Felix Joachimson/Jackson, Hermann Kosterlitz/Henry Koster, …), composers (Jean Gilbert, Friedrich Hollaender, Paul Abraham, Mischa Spoliansky, Hans May, Werner Richard Heymann, …), and stars (Jan Kiepura, Marta Eggerth, Max Hansen, …) involved in this genre were driven into exile. Most of them were eventually able to migrate to Hollywood or London via Vienna/Budapest.
The thematic goal of this year’s festival and conference is to investigate how the mingling of artists with a diverse variety of traditions and cultures influenced the development of sound film operettas and musical comedies.
There will, of course, also be a focus on the development of German cinema with revue film as well as a look at other exile countries where some emigrants settled (e.g. Netherlands, Great Britain).
Traditionally, we also look at the influences and careers of filmmakers who came from Prague and the imperial and royal empire (Franz Schulz, Hanns Schwarz, Billie Wilder, Anny Ondra, …) and developed their careers in Weimar cinema and beyond.

Possible topics at the conference:

  • Careers of involved filmmakers (music, screenplay, direction, acting, production, …)
  • Influence of emigrants on music films in their exile countries (USA, England, France, …)
  • Music films in Nazi-Germany
  • Thematic focuses / Storylines
  • Relation of story <> music, dance
  • Multi Language Versions (MLV)
  • Reception abroad
  • Traditions and forerunners (silent film operetta, theatre, operetta, …)
  • Post War Films (FRG, GDR)
  • Genres (revue, music film, musical, …)

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 (on-site and online via video stream). Presenters will receive a free accreditation to the conference, which also entitles them to attend festival film screenings from 22-26 November 2023, as well as the festival catalogue.
As always, we will do our best to support presenters from out of town with a travel fund.
Following the conference, presentations will be published in a book by edition text+kritik in Autumn 2024. By attending the congress, the presenters agree to publication. (Deadline for the articles: January 15, 2024)
You are welcome to send suggestions for presentations in the form of an abstract (about 1500 characters) and a short biography to Deadline is the 1st of June 2023.

In preparation for both the conference and festival, an internal viewing colloquium will take place in Berlin from May 11-14, 2023 (daily 9:30 am – approx. 6:00 pm, Sunday until approx. 5:00 pm) at the at the Bundesarchiv in Berlin-Lichterfelde, (May 11+12) and Zeughauskino of the German Historical Museum (May 13+14). If you are interested in participating, please write to
A participation fee of 20 Euros will be charged to help cover associated expenses.

cinefest – 20th International Festival of German Film Heritage and the 36th International Film History Conference are organized by CineGraph Hamburg and Bundesarchiv, in close cooperation with numerous international institutions.

Conception: Hans-Michael Bock, Erika Wottrich
Consulting: Petra Rauschenbach, Geoff Brown, Jan-Christopher Horak, Jan Distelmeyer
Organisation: Erika Wottrich, Justina Bielicke
Coordination Bundesarchiv: Sabine Lang
Technical support: George Riley

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