Edited By Julian Preece and Nick Hodgin
Andreas Dresen is a leading European filmmaker whose œuvre now spans three decades and includes some of the most acclaimed German films of recent times, such as Halbe Treppe (Grill Point, 2002), Sommer vorm Balkon (Summer in Berlin, 2005) and Halt auf freier Strecke (Stopped on Track, 2011). The essays collected in this volume by leading scholars from the USA, UK and Ireland place him in the tradition of auteur cinema while emphasising his roots in the pre-1990 film industry of DEFA in the GDR. Dresen works with an established team of performers, technicians and scriptwriters, uses improvisation and non-professional actors, and makes music and song an integral component of many of his films. He is a scholar-filmmaker who pushes at the boundaries of his chosen modes and genres (documentary, neo-realism, films about films or literary adaptation); he is socially committed, casting a Brechtian eye on interpersonal encounters in neoliberal environments; and he is always interested to tell universal stories from the localities he knows best, the working-class milieus of Germany’s east.
Shaping the Nation and the New Capital on the Eve of the Millennium: Nachtgestalten (1999) (Stephen Brockmann)
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Shaping the Nation and the New Capital on the Eve of the Millennium: Nachtgestalten (1999)
Nachtgestalten was released in August 1999, the month of Dresen’s thirty-sixth birthday and six months after the film’s triumphal premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) in February. Michael Gwisdek, the East German actor who portrays the hapless businessman Hendrik Peschke, won the Silver Bear for best male performance – a remarkable accomplishment, since this award had not gone to a German in seven years (and has only gone to one other German actor in the years since 1999).1 Dresen received extensive praise. The film itself was nominated for a Golden Bear, losing out to the American epic war film The Thin Red Line (dir. Terence Malick, 1998). Andreas Dresen was well aware of the significance of the 1999 Berlinale for his future:
Das werde ich auch mein Lebtag nicht vergessen, obwohl ich so gelitten habe und so fertig war wie noch nie vorher in meinem Leben, weil ich wusste genau, an dieser Vorführung wird sich meine berufliche Existenz entscheiden.2
At the German Film Awards in June 1999, he lost out narrowly again, however, this time to Tom Tykwer in the competition for best director, whose Lola rennt (Run Lola Run, 1998), was the other major Berlin film of 1998–99. Nachtgestalten came in second (with Hans-Christian ← 83 | 84 → Schmid’s 23, a film about the hacker subculture of the 1980s)...
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