Samstag, 18.09.2021 13:18 Uhr

What happened to the German cinema?

Verantwortlicher Autor: Sharon Oppenheimer Tel Aviv, 13.07.2021, 07:39 Uhr
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Tel Aviv [ENA] During the Weimar era the German film was a competition for Hollywood. The German cinema during the Weimar republic was remarkable and reflects the German society at the time – pronounced sexual, artistic and social freedom in the tortured aftermath of WWI, which left the country physically and psychologically wounded. Even Alfred Hitchcock worked in Berlin in the 1920s.

The German silent cinema was arguably far ahead of Hollywood during this period. The state film studio Ufa supervised almost all films during this time, such important movies as “The Blue Angel” and “Metropolis”. Their stylistic and technical innovations were strongly influenced by the political situation of the time, in particular the emergence of Expressionism as a style that is characterized by deep light and impressive backdrops. Two genres that were especially influenced by Expressionism are horror film and film noir.

It all came to an end when Hitler rose to power in 1933. Many of the directors, writers and actors fled from Germany to Hollywood after the Nazis came to power - for example Fritz Lang, William Dieterle, Robert Siodmak, Peter Lorre and Billy Wilder. Others, like Kurt Gerron, Eugen Burg, Paul Morgan, Otto Wallburg were simply murdered. More than 1,500 filmmakers - many of them Jews - were forced to emigrate. But the cinema outside Germany benefited from the emigration of German film makers and from German expressionist developments in style and technique. The new look and techniques impressed other contemporary film makers, artists and cinematographers.

From 1933-45 the Nazis defined what is art and culture. Therefore the Reich Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturkammer) was established by law in September 1933 in the course of the Gleichschaltung process at the instigation of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels as a professional organization of all German creative artists. All members of the film industry were required to join the Reich Film Chamber, which was created in June 1933. Artists had to apply for membership on presentation of an Aryan certificate of true German heritage. A rejected inscription resulted in an occupational ban. Goebbels promoted the development of films that contained subliminal propaganda messages.

The film remained the leading medium in the Nazi state until the end of WWII and the busting of Nazi Germany. Apart from documentaries, newsreels, cultural and short films, the Third Reich alone left over 1,000 feature films for their descendants. For example the "Great Love" is a 1942 film; it´s not about love, but war, is the real theme of the film. Very few of them were seen as genuine contributions to propaganda and, in this sense these movies were approved or not by the military governments and the Voluntary Self-Control of the Film Industry (FSK) due to their inflammatory content. Thanks to television broadcasts and publications on video and DVD, large parts of Nazi films are still part of everyday German culture to this day.

Since the 1950s Germany enjoys the film funding. Officially, the state film funding and film funding from regional funding institutions support domestic filmmaker and Germany once again wants to compete with American productions. However, this was always just theory. Around 700 million Euros tax money is invested in film funding every year. If you take a closer look at film funding, things look different: The employees of these institutions initially take care of themselves very well: around 300 million per year only go down the drain in administrative expenses.

About 80% of the other 400 million per year always flow to a joint production company, which is mostly also linked to the TV broadcasters, who occupy the juries with their editors. Therefore, the subsidies are nothing more than additional broadcasting fees, so that the broadcasters receive additional tax funds or they have even more money available for their “quality program”. Thus, the promotion is mainly an additional disguised television and radio fee. It should be abolished in order to create equal opportunities in competition.

An alternative to this would be the Canadian model, which subsidizes every film with 30% labor tax and thus generates over $ 4 billion in sales in film and TV productions per year. In Vancouver and Toronto alone, over 50,000 people work in film and TV production. Labor tax means that 30% of every wage paid to employees and actors in a production is refunded. The heads of German film funding are not interested in such a model, because then all the staff positions and well-paid creative positions would be eliminated. If the Canadian model was implemented, the administrative costs would drop to around EUR 20 million per year and significantly more money would be available for the films.

The way in which funding works in Germany can be equated with nepotism in socialist systems and, by the way, cultural censorship is also practiced, because everything that is controversial, harsh, dark, realistic, cruel, etc. is prevented by the broadcasters and funding agencies. The result is that, with very few exceptions, German film has no spectators abroad and even in Germany, only finds viewers on television. Less than 5% of the funded films have reimbursed their money and over 50% of the films have not recouped anything.

While pensioners in Germany have to collect bottles, film funding staff flys business class to film premieres and festivals, and directors and producers drive around in the area in a Jaguar even though based on their results they should take the bus. In the style of a lord of the manor, money is given by clowns who prove with their daily productions (SOKO, TATORT, TRAUMSCHIFF etc.) that they have not the slightest idea of quality. Another example: HOUSE OF THE DEAD and ALONE IN THE DARK by Dr. Uwe Boll made more money on DVD in the USA than 80% of the films ever funded with german subsidies put together. However, in the past 25 years, Boll has never received any funding.

Germany will be hardly able to secure pensions in the future, and it is more reasonable to invest tax payer´s money in the pension fund than into the film funding. Already for a long time prosecutors should have been investigating and politicians had to sit up and take notice based on the results.

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