The Autobiographical Turn in Germanophone Documentary and Experimental Film

The Autobiographical Turn in Germanophone Documentary and Experimental Film

Edited by Robin Curtis, Angelica Fenner


Camden House



A volume of essays marking out a new, historically and culturally specific model for contemplating autobiographical non-fiction film and video.

There is a widespread notion in the scholarly literature on autobiographical nonfiction film that there are unchanging, universal models for the investigation of the self through audiovisual media. By insisting on the cultural and historical specificity of that self, the essays in this volume trace the range of politically and theoretically informed taboos, critiques, and proclivities that shape autobiographical filmmaking in German-speaking countries. In doing so, they delineate a new model for contemplating autobiographical film and video.
The essays in this volume examine the parameters shaping the audiovisual self in the Germanophone cultural context across a variety of practices and aesthetic modes, from contemporary artists including Hito Steyerl, Ming Wong, and kate hers to Rolf Dieter Brinkmann's multimedia experiments of the 1970s, and from Helke Misselwitz's challenges to the documentary tradition in the GDR to Peter Liechti's investigations of Swiss ambivalence toward the nation's iconic landscape. The volume thus takes up a number of historically and geographically specific iterations of autobiographical discourse that in each case remain contingent on the space and time in which they are uttered.

Contributors: Dagmar Brunow, Steve Choe, Robin Curtis, Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann, Angelica Fenner, Marcy Goldberg, Feng-Mei Heberer, Rembert Hüser, Waltraud Maierhofer, Christopher Pavsek, Patrik Sjöberg, Carrie Smith-Prei, Anna Stainton.

Robin Curtis is Professor of Theory and Practice of Audiovisual Media at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Angelica Fenner is Associate Professor of German and Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto.


November 2014
7 black and white illustrations
350 pages
9x6 in
Screen Cultures: German Film and the Visual
ISBN: 9781571139177
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC PER004000, PER004030, LIT004170
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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
"If people want to oppress you, they make you say 'I'": Hito Steyerl in Conversation
The Impertinence of Saying "I": Sylvia Schedelbauer's Personal Documentaries
Geography of a Swiss Body: Peter Liechti's Hans im Glück
Reading Helke Misselwitz's Winter Adé as Multivocal Autobiography
How Does It Feel to Be Foreign? Negotiating German Belonging and Transnational Asianness in Experimental Video
Frankfurt Canteen: Eva Heldmann's fremd gehen. Gespräche mit meiner Freundin
Mediated Memories of Migration and the National Visual Archive: Fatih Ak?n's Wir haben vergessen zurückzukehren
History Runs through the Family: Framing the Nazi Past in Recent Autobiographical Documentary
Clearing Out Family History: Thomas Haemmerli's Sieben Mulden und eine Leiche
Re-Authoring the Self: Brinkmann's Zorn
From Death to Life: Wim Wenders, Autobiography, and the Natural History of Cinema
"Ich bin's, Fassbinder," or The Timing of the Self
Filmography and Sources
Notes on the Contributors


Very interesting . . . . The twelve contributions are characterized by an international perspective and are very reflective . . . . Worth reading. HHPRINZLER.DE

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