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Andreas Dresen


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.

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Women at Work: Reflections on Social Identity and the Private Self in Die Polizistin (2000), Willenbrock (2005) and Steigerlied (2013) (Jean E. Conacher)


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Women at Work: Reflections on Social Identity and the Private Self in Die Polizistin (2000), Willenbrock (2005) and Steigerlied (2013)

In August 2013, the Thalia cinema in Potsdam marked Andreas Dresen’s fiftieth birthday with a gala performance of all his films, including his most recent fifteen-minute documentary, Steigerlied, depicting a day in the life of Daniela Kabuth, a young worker at an open-cast mine in the Lausitz area south of Berlin.1 Dresen suggests Steigerlied constitutes an attempt to rectify the increasing lack of attention afforded the working world and workers in different media, despite their central role in driving society forwards and providing support for others.2 Such sentiments may undoubtedly be traced, in part at least, to Dresen’s upbringing in the GDR, the problematically self-designated ‘workers’ and peasants’ state’ which collapsed shortly before he completed his film studies at the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen (or HFF), named after Konrad Wolf in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Indeed, Dresen himself acknowledges that the unwelcome requirement for all HFF students to spend time making documentaries of working people in their workplace opened his eyes to a genre which he ← 147 | 148 → might otherwise have ignored and which unexpectedly proved central to the creative process in his later work.3

For over forty years, DEFA itself produced a broad range of both documentaries and feature films glorifying the efforts of manual workers or critiquing the experiences of the working class.4 Directors such as Kurt...

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