Entertaining Auteurism: Popular Filmmakers Think About Germany

in German Politics and Society
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German popular filmmakers who participated in the Denk ich an Deutschland series brought a range of conflicting impulses to their meditations on Germany, including the universalizing tendencies of popular culture, together with the personal and political strains often present in documentary films. With varying degrees of success, each director agitates national identity via an idiosyncratic selfhood, a process which in turn expands our notions of Germany beyond generic convention. The best of the five films discussed in this essay—directed by Doris Dörrie, Fatih Akin, Katja von Garnier, Sherry Hormann, and Klaus Lemke—feature their creators' struggle to box themselves out of a larger collective identity. By modeling their own existential Bildung, they chip away at an otherwise implacable German identity and provide a psychic service for Germans potentially more salutary than the way Hollywood films sustain American identity.