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.
Introduction (Julian Preece)
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Andreas Dresen makes a comment in the interview printed in this volume about his most successful film so far Sommer vorm Balkon which could apply to just about all his work:
there are a number of alienation effects […]. The film plays with reality. It does not depict it. It transgresses reality by playing with elements that the audience knows from reality and exaggerating them. As a viewer you are able to recognise your own reality in that exaggeration and you can enjoy that. But it is an intrinsically artistic sublimation of everyday life, which has nothing to do with what everyday life is really like. Even though it is everyday life which is depicted, and that for me is the most interesting thing about it. It has nothing to do with the concept that I find is often pinned on me, it has nothing to do with ‘authenticity’. It is a depiction of reality, it is realism, I would say. But realism plays with elements of reality, which makes it different from naturalism, which is not the same thing at all.
No artist likes being pigeon-holed and Dresen is no exception when it comes to terms such as ‘realism’ and ‘authenticity’, which he has repeatedly rejected in interviews. He sees his films as realistic insofar as they depict life as it is lived, but not naturalistic because they do not aim to reproduce that life faithfully....
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