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.
Coming to Terms with the Present: Andreas Dresen’s Wichmann Films (2003/2012) (Helen Hughes)
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Coming to Terms with the Present: Andreas Dresen’s Wichmann Films (2003/2012)
Like many contemporary independent filmmakers, Andreas Dresen does more than make feature films. Described as ‘the Potsdam multitalent’1 in the Berliner Zeitung he is also a producer, has made television programmes, directs theatre and opera and, most importantly for this chapter, has made around a dozen documentaries. The early documentaries are shorts and they make up a significant part of his student oeuvre, such as Was jeder muss … (What every man must do …, 1988) and Jenseits von Wanzleben (Far From Klein Wanzleben, 1989), which are included on the Stilles Land DVD. He followed these up with the 30-minute film about the closure of a Potsdam pub much loved by the stars (Krauses Kneipe / The Krauses’ Pub, 1993) and a 90-minute made for television documentary about a children’s home in East Berlin (Kuckuckskinder / Cuckoo Children, 1994). More recently he has represented in particular a regional voice through the two compilations 20 x Brandenburg. Menschen, Orte, Geschichten (20 x Brandenburg: People, Places, Stories, 2010), for which he was responsible for the artistic direction and the 15-minute film Halle 101 and Steigerlied (Miners’ Song), discussed in this volume by Jean Conacher, in the television series 16 x Deutschland (16 x Germany, 2013). He has also made two feature-length documentaries about a regional politician named Henryk Wichmann, both of which had significant runs in the cinema and gained attention in the media...
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