The Counter-Cinema of the Berlin School

Abel, Marco

Argues that the Berlin School produced a minor cinema.

The group of contemporary German directors collectively known as the "Berlin School" constitutes the most significant filmmaking movement to come out of Germany since the New German Cinema of the 1970s, not least because its films mark the emergence of a new film language in German cinema. The filmmakers belonging to the Berlin School, including Christian Petzold, Thomas Arslan, Angela Schanelec, Christoph Hochhäusler, Ulrich Köhler, Benjamin Heisenberg, Maren Ade, and Valeska Grisebach, are reminiscent in their auteurism of the directors of the New German Autorenkino and of French cinéma des auteurs of the 1960s.

This volume is the first book-length study in any language of the Berlin School. Its central thesis -- that the movement should be regarded as a "counter-cinema" - is built around the unusual style of realism employed in the films of this movement, a realism that presents audiences with images of a Germany that does not yet exist. Abel concludes that it is precisely how these films' images and sounds work that renders them political. They are political not because they are message-driven films but because they are made politically, thus performing a "redistribution of the sensible" - a direct artistic intervention in the way politics partitions ways of doing and making, saying and seeing

Marco Abel, The Counter-Cinema of the Berlin School (Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2013)