For the third year in a row, the Re-Visions programme illustrates the festival’s eventful history. The works selected range from “contentious” to “undesired”; censored, withheld, or the subject of controversy, these films were fought over and made to serve as examples of how to negotiate fundamental issues of political and aesthetic autonomy of interpretation. Posing complex aesthetic, political, and dramaturgical questions, the 62nd edition of DOK Leipzig is dedicated to films by Thomas Heise, Volker Koepp, and Avi Mograbi, among others.
Complementing this retrospective is Carolin Moine’s book launch SCREENED ENCOUNTERS. THE LEIPZIG DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL, 1955–1990, which relates the history of the Leipzig film festival as a “Cold War festival” caught between an introspective East German view and international exchange.
Preview and Repercussions of the New Era
The Re-Visions give space to Eduard Schreiber’s work as well. In 1991, EASTERN LANDSCAPE received the German Film Award. We are pleased to once again look back at what his work from the early post-GDR period tells us about the repercussions of the political upheaval.
A whole series of films were withheld from the festival’s official programme and shown later, often secretly in unofficial cinema booths. These include Jan Schütte’s DA IST NIRGENDS NICHTS GEWESEN AUSSER HIER (1983), about a failed national strike on January 31, 1931, the day Adolf Hitler came to power. To the program planners, BRANDENBURG TILES (1989) was another undesired film, as it failed to portray the East German economy in the progressive light that was officially cultivated. WHY MAKE A FILM ABOUT PEOPLE LIKE THEM? (1980) by Thomas Heise literally reflected the question in its title as public screenings of the film were prohibited until 1989; hooliganism was not to be encouraged.
The DOK Leipzig premiere of Winfried Bonengel’s PROFESSION: NEO-NAZI, which subsequently received international recognition at more than 40 festivals, was nearly prevented in 1993 because the film, as was claimed, did not adequately distance itself from its main protagonist. Other films as well that are now considered to be undisputed classics of documentary film history, such as Walter Heynowski’s COMMANDO 52 (1965), about the Congo, were the subject of relentless controversy at their respective premieres in Leipzig.