Situated Histories: Das kleine Fernsehspiel in the World

Was anderes machen (The Home and the Movie)

The symposium will explore the multifaceted role of German television funding in the development of networks and infrastructures of filmmaking within select international contexts. Over the course of its 60-year history, Das kleine Fernsehspiel, a publically funded series on the German television channel Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (Second German television, ZDF), has been rightly celebrated within Germany and internationally for its crucial role in financially supporting the production of innovative narrative and documentary films by young and up-and-coming filmmakers, many of whose first or second film appeared thanks to German television funding. The channel’s funding actions are guided by its mandate as part of the German public broadcasting system to support work with social relevance to a democratic society. The production history of Das kleine Fernsehspiel attests to the fact that their commitments were not limited by national boundaries.

Although the editorial office played a decisive role in the development of New German Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s, German feminist cinema in the 1970s and 1980s, Turkish and Kurdish-German cinema from the 1980s to the 2000s and the so-called Berlin School, in the 1990s and 2000s it also repeatedly went beyond Germany in search of filmmakers with promising new projects that pushed the boundaries of contemporary filmmaking thematically and aesthetically. German television funding has thus contributed to the production of such important international filmmakers as Valeria Sarmiento and Raul Ruiz (Chile); Yeşim Ustaoğlu (Turkey); Charles Burnett, Haile Gerima, Jim Jarmusch, Yvonne Rainer (USA); Elia Suleiman (Palestine/Israel); Safi Faye (Senegal); Jean-Marie Teno (Cameroon); Mani Kaul (India); Merzak Allouache (Algeria); Andrzej Wajda (Poland); John Akomfrah and Stephen Dwoskin (UK); Atteyat El Abnoudi (Egypt); and Rithy Panh (Cambodia).

The symposium Situated Histories: Das kleine Fernsehspiel in the World takes selected films from the history of das kleine Fernsehspiel as a starting point for a discussion of transnational perspectives on film production, distribution and presentation. We will look at film promotion through television as part of a broader practice of German cultural diplomacy and examine, for example, the role of the Goethe-Institut in promoting film culture in different places. The symposium is inspired by the 60th anniversary of the little television play. However, the scope of our discussions will not be limited to these or other German broadcasters or editorial offices, but will also address related models of public television film production, including at Channel Four, the BBC or the Franco-German cultural channel ARTE.

Organised by Alexandra Schneider and Marc Siegel, Institute for Film, Theatre, Media and Cultural Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz.
The symposium will be held in English.

Saturday,18+ Sunday,19. November
Participation is free of charge. Registration in advance is requested: Registration here



Saturday,  November 18


09:30 Doors open

10:00 Welcome/Opening Remarks

Alexandra Schneider, Marc Siegel, Fabian Kling (Mainz)

10:30 Contact Zones
Elisabeth Ramirez-Soto: Das kleine Fernsehspiel as a Contact Zone: Encounters with Latin American Cinema
Nicholas Perneczky: Safi Faye’s Man sa yay (1980): Migratory Filmmaking with and against German co-production
Moderation: Alexandra Schneider

Elizabeth Ramírez-Soto is Assistant Professor at Fordham University. Her research focuses on feminist film history, transnational film and media practices, and documentary. She is the author of (Un)veiling Bodies: A Trajectory of Chilean Post-Dictatorship Documentary (Legenda, 2019). She is currently working on a book on Transnational Experimental Television: The Global South on European Screens.

Nikolaus Perneczky is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary University of London, where he is working on the postdoctoral project Restitution and the Moving Image: Decolonising Global Film Heritage (2022-2025). His most recent publications include an article in Black Camera on the futures past of African cinema (2022). He is also finishing a monograph titled Against Development: African Cinema as Worldmaking (Oxford University Press).

Coffee Break

12:00 Encounters                                                 
Barbara Wurm: tba
Boukary Sawadogo: Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) in afrikanischen Kinos: Die Burkina-Schule nach den 1980er Jahren und darüber hinaus
Moderation: Stefanie Schulte Strathaus (Berlin)

Barbara Wurm is an Austrian author, curator and scholar. Trained in Slavic Studies, she has conducted reseach in the areas of the East-European Avant-Garde, (post-)Soviet Cinema and East European cultural studies. Her publications have focussed on Dsiga Wertow and the history of Russian and Soviet film. After decades of work as programmer at festivals, she has recently become director of the Berlinale Forum section.

Boukary Sawadogo is Professor of Cinema Studies at the City University of New York. His research centers on African cinema and African American cinema. He is the author of four books on African cinema, including African Film Studies: An Introduction. Second edition (2022), West African Screen Media: Comedy, TV Series, and Transnationalization (2019), African Film Studies: An Introduction (2018) and Les cinémas francophones ouest-africains, 1990-2005 (2013).

13:15 Lunch

14:45 Speculations
Özgür Çiçek: Initiating the Mediation of Personal and Transnational Histories: German-Kurdish Films Produced with ZDF – DKF
Cecilia Valenti: Be Hard on Heroes: Feminist Speculative Historiography on Late-Night Television
Moderation: Sezen Kayhan (Mainz)

Özgür Çiçek is a film scholar currently based in Berlin. She received her Ph.D. from Binghamton University. Her research interests include national/transnational, minor and migrant cinemas, memory studies, and documentary filmmaking. She has two upcoming books: Kurdish Cinema in Turkey: Imprisonment, Memory, and the Archive and an edited volume with the title Audiovisual Healing and Recuperation: Resilience through Mediated Troubles.

Cecilia Valenti is a film scholar and curator. She is an assistant professor in film and media studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Her dissertation Das Amorphe im Medialen: Zur politischen Fernsehästhetik im italienischen Sendeformat «Blob» was published in 2019. She is currently working on the history of Italian militant audiovisual archives, feminist collective film practices, and the politics of global film heritage.

Coffee Break

16:30 Moments
Ömer Alkin: Envisioning Subaltern Phantasies: Postmigratory Film(making) and the ZDF Kleines Fernsehspiel
Rachel Garfield: Behindert: A decisive moment
Moderation: Alejandro Bachmann (Cologne)

Ömer Alkin is Professor of Applied Media and Communication Studies at Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences and head of the DFG research project Aesthetics of Occidentalism (2020-2024). His publications include Postmigrant Memory Culture and Media History. The Figure of the Migrant in Turkish Cinema (2020) and Die visuelle Kultur der Migration. Geschichte, Ästhetik und Polyzentrierung des Migrationskinos (2019).

Rachel Garfield is an artist, writer, curator and Professor in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art in London. She was Principal Investigator of The Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin’s Personal Cinema (AHRC funded, 2018-2022). She is co-editor of Dwoskino: The Gaze of Stephen Dwoskin, LUX, (2022) and author of Experimental Film Making and Punk: Feminist Audio-Visual Culture of the 1970s and 1980s (2022).  Garfield has published widely on lens-based work, identity politics and feminism.

Sunday, November 19


09:30 Doors open

10:00 Confrontations

 Merv Espina: Media Encounters, Cultural Confrontations
 Rasha Salti: Windows, Doors, and Portals: Screens and Cinephilia
 Moderation: Marc Siegel (Mainz)

Merv Espina is an artist and researcher based in Las Piñas, Metro Manila whose practice spelunks through the cavities of systemic biases and historical lapses in media, knowledge and cultural production, and investigates the networks and organisms that have grown through them. His ongoing research project, Media Encounters, has been supported by the documenta Institut with the documenta archiv and the Goethe-Institut headquarters in Munich since 2022. He is currently a member of the Akademie der Künste der Welt in Cologne.

Rasha Salti is a researcher, writer and curator of art and film. Since 2017, she has been commissioning editor for La Lucarne, the experimental documentary program, at Arte France.

Coffee Break

11:30 Perspectives
Deniz Göktürk & Gertrud Koch
Moderation: Alexandra Schneider, Marc Siegel

Deniz Göktürk is Professor in the German Department at the University of California, Berkeley. She is one of the leading German-language researchers concerned with the complex of cinema and migration in general and the so-called “German-Turkish cinema” in particular. Her research areas also include media theory and history from early cinema to digital archives as well as regimes of mobility, multiculturalism and nationalism.

Gertrud Koch is Professor Emeritus of Film Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and since 2011 Visiting Professor at Brown University, USA. Her research focuses on the boundaries of political and historical representation, image and film theory, techno-aesthetics, and the philosophy of art and film. In 2019, she received the Honorary Award of the German Film Critics for her work in film studies and influence on film culture.


Alejandro Bachmann is a cultural worker with a focus on mediating, writing about film, and putting together film programs. He is Professor for Film History and Theory at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, and artistic director of the international film education project "Encounter RWF" of the DFF - German Film Institute and Film Museum. He was a member of the selection committee at festivals such as the Diagonale and the Duisburg Film Week.

Fabian Kling is a PhD candidate and research associate at the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz. His work focuses on digital methods and dramaturgies, data visualization, live broadcasting, and media sports. An article on digital historiography and the historical film exile is forthcoming.

Alexandra Schneider is Professor of Film and Media Studies at the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz. Her research focuses on critical film historiography, media archaeology of small gauge cinema and format studies. She is the co-editor of Format Matters: Standards, Practices, and Politics in Media Cultures (2020).

Marc Siegel is Professor of Film Studies at the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz. His research focuses on issues in queer studies and experimental film. His book A Gossip of Images is forthcoming (2024). Recent publications include the co-edited volume, Serge Daney and Queer Cinephilia (2023). He is a member of the Akademie der Künste der Welt in Cologne and the Berlin-based art collective CHEAP.

Stefanie Schulte Strathaus is a film scholar and Artistic Director of Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art, where she has worked since the early 1990s. From 2001-2019 she was on the selection committee of the Berlinale Forum. Together with Anselm Franke, she launched the Forum Expanded in 2006, which she directed until 2020. Most recently, she established archival work as an essential area of the Arsenal's work and coined it the Living Archive.