The Oberhausen Manifesto 50 Years Later
June 7 to 15, 2012
The Oberhausen Manifesto is one of the most important documents in the history of European film movements. On February 28, 1962, twenty-six young filmmakers declared that "daddy's cinema is dead“ and, in a mixture of unbridled pathos and obliterating diagnosis, reclaimed the right to create a new cinema. Ever since, this moment has been regarded as the "big bang" of "New German Cinema." The best known names of this group are Alexander Kluge, Edgar Reitz, Haro Senft, Peter Schamoni and Herbert Vesely. Other signatories to the Manifesto were cinematographers, producers, composers, and the actor Christian Doermer. Central to the public perception of the Manifesto was the notion of self-empowerment. Beyond the boastful attitude, however, the group’s ambition was also to create political, organizational, and aesthetic foundations for a new German film industry.
The eight programs of films (from 1958 to 1968) shown at the Film Museum reflect this background. But the selection goes far beyond the works of the "Oberhauseners." The discussion of their legacy and their era will include many international examples and present parallel moments of renewal in Germany.
In many ways, the shorts by Fassbinder, Herzog, Straub/Huillet, as well as those by lesser-known filmmakers such as Marquard Bohm, Roland Klick, Vlado Kristl or Peter Nestler, express completely different aesthetic and political perspectives than those proposed by the Manifesto. A "breakthrough" film of the Oberhausen group, Herbert Vesely's Das Brot der frühen Jahre, will be positioned opposite Bernhard Wicki‘s stray bullet of a feature, Warum sind sie gegen uns? Outstanding international short films of the era (by Shirley Clarke, Forough Farrokhzad, Jonas Mekas, Roman Polanski, Hans Scheugl, Alain Tanner and many others) will screen in relation to the formal and content horizons of the Oberhausen group – their investigations into German history (e.g., Es muss ein Stück vom Hitler sein by Walter Krüttner), their notions of Modernism (e.g., Das magische Band by Ferdinand Khittl) and their social observations of the present (e.g., Notizen aus dem Altmühltal by Hans Rolf Strobel and Heinrich Tichawsky).
The retrospective will kick off with an international conference on the theme – on June 7 and 8 at the Film Museum. Speakers and panelists include Christine N. Brinckmann, Elisabeth Büttner, Helmut Herbst, Hans Günther Pflaum, Nils Plath, Eric Rentschler, Christian Rischert, Hans Scheugl, and Florian Wüst.
Provoking Reality is being organized by the Film Museum, the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival and the Department of Theater, Film and Media Studies at the University of Vienna, in collaboration with VIS Vienna Independent Shorts and Synema. The project is supported by Deutsche Kinemathek, Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, and funded by the Federal Cultural Foundation.