The Lives of Others and Contemporary German Film

This workshop brings together a group of international experts in German cinema to take stock of the state of the industry, taking as a case study the Oscar-winning film The Lives of Others

Date: 16-12-2011
Time: 11:00 - 14:00

The aim of this workshop is to bring together key experts in German cinema from the UK, US and Germany to take stock of the state of German film and German film studies. Since 2000 the industry has achieved a level of international visibility it has not enjoyed since the 1970s. At the same time, film studies has emerged as one of the fastest growing areas of investigation within the broader discipline of German studies. The workshop responds to both these developments, drawing on the expertise of major opinion makers of the last decade. As a case study, the project will explore Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Oscar-winning The Lives of Others. In Germany, the film sparked major debate on topics as diverse as the politics of memory, the role of film within German culture and aesthetic strategies in popular cinema. Thus, the workshop also aims to offer new insight into one of the most successful German films of the past two decades, placing The Lives of Others within its broader political, aesthetic and industrial context. Over the course of two days, participants will investigate key fault lines in contemporary critical discourse, the various presentations both reflecting and developing the wider debates the film itself fed into. The workshop will lead to an edited volume, commissioned by de Gruyter as part of its Contemporary German Culture series. This will appear in January 2013.

If you would like to join us for the workshop please contact Paul Cooke (

List of Papers and Participants:

  ·         The Lives of Others: Reworking Historical Reality into a Thriller, a historian working with a filmmaker, Manfred Wilke (Free University Berlin)

·         Coming in from the Cold Once and for All? The Life of Others as Cold War Spy film, David Bathrick (Cornell University)

·         The Lives of Others: German Heritage Cinemas and the Politics of Consensus, Eric Rentschler (University of Harvard)

·         Fear and Loathing in East Berlin: Gender and Melodrama in The Lives of Others, Andrea Rinke (Kingston University)

·         The Lives of Others: Screenplay as Literature and the Literary Film, Marc Silberman (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

·         The Lives of Others (2006) Heritage, Comedy and History, Erica Carter (University of Warwick)

·         Heritage Stars? The Lives of Others and Extra-Filmic Discourses of Historical Drama in post-1989 German Cinema, Jaimey Fisher ( UC Davis)

·         How the Other Half Lives: The Lives of Others and the Visual Memory of the GDR in Post-1989 Feature Films, Sabine Hake (University of Texas at Austin)

·         The Distribution of the Audible: The Sounds of The Lives of Others, Lutz Koepnick (Washington University in St. Louis)

·         The Lives of Others and the European Apparatus of Production, Randall Halle (University of Pittsburgh)

·         Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Dialogue with Hollywood: from The Lives of Others to The Tourist (2010), Paul Cooke (University of Leeds)

Location: Weetwood Hall Hotel
Cost: £20 for the workshop, £100 with accommodation and dinner