At the Academy, Marco Abel is working on a new book project, tentatively titled “Left Politics without Leftism: A Counter-Genealogy of Germany’s Political Cinema.”...
Dirk Ippen Lecture
Political Cinema and the German Left
Abel’s project-in-progress, “Left Politics Without Leftism: A Counter-Genealogy of Germany’s Political Cinema,” examines how German film history and historiography configured political cinema. Today, Abel argues, two conceptions obtain that have roots in the revolts of the “long 1968” and the era’s models of political, or leftist, filmmaking: experimental films seeking to assault viewers’ senses and intellect, and “thematic,” message-driven films dealing with weighty issues of Germany’s past and present. Films falling into neither category are often misconstrued as apolitical. Bringing nuance to this dominant conception of the “political film,” Abel’s revisionist account is inspired by three seemingly disconnected moments in his own research: writing his book The Counter-Cinema of the Berlin School; revisiting the mostly forgotten film-critical debate about the so-called “aesthetic left” in West Germany around 1968 and its relation to the New Munich Group of filmmakers; and discovering Johannes Schaaf’s long-neglected film Tattoo (1967), which diagnosed emerging political developments in remarkably prescient ways that nevertheless remained opaque to the political left.