Lost in Politics – Do films have to be political?


Or: On contemporary cinema, how it risks being taken over by content and why it is afraid of art

Confirmed speakers (preliminary): -
Athina Rachel Tsangari (director and producer, “Attenberg”, “Chevalier”)
- Joachim Lepastier (film critic, Cahiers du Cinéma)
- Alexander Garcìa Düttmann (philosopher, Universität der Künste Berlin)
- Carlos Gerstenhauer (chief editor “Kino und Debüt" at Bayerischer Rundfunk)

Films defending the weak and presenting moral heroes are ubiquitous. Maybe today there is a real demand for this kind of filmmaking, as it is being celebrated and awarded with countless prizes. Take for example Jacques Audiard’s dramatic refugee thriller “Dheepan”, that won Cannes in 2015, the essay film on Lampedusa, Gianfranco Rosi’s “Fuocoammare”, that triumphed in Berlin 2016 or this year‘s Golden Palm winner in Cannes, Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake”, about a carpenter marginalized by the welfare bureaucracy.

Among the films with a political message we find boring and exciting, outstanding and exasperating ones. Yet all of them have one thing in common: they are being marketed as relevant and important. That also poses a challenge to film critics who far too often take up the political argument handed to them by the film and its defenders instead of actually talking about cinema: the political headline takes the place of aesthetic discourse.

On the eve of the film event that is routinely referred to as the most political of the big festivals, we will inquire the value of the political in cinema and ask how it is possible to make films politically instead of turning cinema into politics.

How seriously do films and their creators take their political engagement? Is a film only important if its topic is political? Or is that only a condition for it to be financed in the first place in a system of subsidies awarded by committees? And especially: what effect does it have on the art of filmmaking if cinema defines itself by thematic content? What does that mean for its most elementary means of expression: the artistic form?

The conference will be held in English.
Admission: 5,- € - Pre-registration via konferenz@vdfk.de


Press reviews:

Eine Auftaktdebatte zum politischen Film - arteschock

Für eine literarische Filmkritik? - jugend ohne film

Ihr, Daniel Blake - Spiegel Online

Pragmatismus oder Protest - Der Tagesspiegel