Genre Cinema from Germany - Goethe on Demand: Twelve films from four genres - Goethe-Institut Sri Lanka

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Goethe on Demand: Genre Cinema from Germany – Twelve films from four genres (Key Visual)

Goethe on Demand: Twelve films from four genres
Genre Cinema from Germany

With twelve films from four genres, Genre Cinema from Germany aims to arouse interest in genre films and provide insights into surprisingly diverse trends in German filmmaking. In 2023, one film from the genres of science fiction, crime, road movie and horror will be shown each month.

How it works

Many probably associate the term “genre film” with Italian westerns, American horror classics ... but with the latest hit science-fiction movie from Germany?

Looking back at recent decades of German film history, German genre cinema tends to eke out a niche existence. Yet early German film history, more precisely the so-called Weimar Phantastik, produced films like Metropolis (Fritz Lang), without which the form of today’s science fiction films would hardly be conceivable. And films such as Nosferatu (F. W. Murnau) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene) early on developed significant horror film motifs that are still used in films of the genre today.

But what actually constitutes a genre film?

Genre films can be understood as films that use the narrative strategies characteristic of a particular genre and thus further consolidate them. Broad genre classifications such as drama or comedy contrast with narratively and formally more narrowly defined film genres such as science fiction, fantasy or horror. The films function through recurring themes, motifs, narrative patterns or even character constellations as well as a conventionalised film language, for example with regard to image design, sound design or music. A genre is thus also a kind of agreement between filmmakers and the audience who go to the cinema with a specific set of expectations.

Whether action, science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller, film noir or mystery – historically conditioned and structurally embedded to this day, German films that don’t comply with conventional narrative patterns and film funding guidelines and that cannot be easily integrated into established exploitation systems have a hard time. Despite the limited possibilities of financial support, German genre films have gained in importance, especially in recent years, not least internationally.

With our 2023 series, we would like to offer you a closer look at genre filmmaking in Germany. In addition to current titles, selected pioneering films will also be put in a new light. The Goethe on Demand annual series presents one film per month in four different genres, so that one genre can be discovered at a time in a three-month rhythm: science fiction, crime, road movie and horror.

Road movie

Scene from the film "Germany Journey". © Hans Albrecht Lusznat

Germany Journey (Wolfgang Ettlich, 2020)

A journey through time and East Germany, 30 years after reunification as well as the first trip that the director and cameraman undertook through the then newly collapsed GDR. A curious road trip has turned into a road movie as well as a document of time.


Scene from the film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". © Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)

With the help of a sleepwalker, the diabolical Dr. Caligari terrorises a small town in northern Germany. This expressionist silent film classic is a unique work of art and helped German film to flourish in the early 1920s.

Scene from the film "The German Chainsaw Massacre [A.K.A. Blackest Heart]". © Filmgalerie 451

The German Chainsaw Massacre [A.K.A. Blackest Heart] (Christoph Schlingensief, 1990)

The news of the Wall's opening throws a West German butcher's family into an unrestrained bloodlust. Christoph Schlingensief stages the first hour of German reunification as a slaughter, moving between horror, trash and critical commentary.

Scene from the film "Endzeit – Ever After". © Anke Neugebauer, Grown Up Films, ZDF

Endzeit – Ever After (Carolina Hellsgård, 2018)

Two years after zombies have overrun the earth, the German towns of Weimar and Jena are the last remains of human civilization. Two young women take a journey through post-apocalyptic Thuringia. Endzeit – Ever After is a zombie film written, directed, shot and produced by women.