Film screening

Two by Brasch




Language: German with English subtitles
Price: Free admission Registration required

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The German Film Office is pleased to offer two rare films written and directed by German poet and dramatist Thomas Brasch (1945-2001) for free streaming, as part of a program that seeks to introduce U.S. audiences to this remarkable artist and his story. The films will be available to stream across the United States.

Angels of Iron (1981)
Based on a true story, the first film directed and written by Thomas Brasch is a historical drama set during the Berlin Blockade of 1948-1949 against the droning sounds of the Airlift. A 17-year-old hoodlum by the name of Gladow works hand in glove with a white-collar criminal to rob and pillage day and night, defying capture. The future casts a long shadow on these characters whose contradictions and confusion are emblematic for postwar Berlin.

World premiere: Cannes Film Festival

“I thank the film academy of the GDR for my education (...); I thank the heroes of my film, the two dead criminals Gladow and Völpel, for their example.” With these words in his acceptance speech for the Bavarian Film Prize awarded to Angels of Iron in 1981, Thomas Brasch caused a scandal.

Engel aus Eisen
Dir. Thomas Brasch
West Germany, 1981
103 minutes
With Hilmar Thate, Katharina Thalbach, Ulrich Wesselmann, Karin Baal, Ilse Pagé

The Passenger: Welcome to Germany
A Hollywood filmmaker (a German-speaking Tony Curtis) returns to Germany where in 1942 he and other concentration camp prisoners were lured into participating in a Nazi propaganda film. He plans to make a documentary about the experience. Thomas Brasch’s last film is a reflection about self-deception in the processing of guilt and the difficulty of coming to terms with the past through art.

World premiere: Cannes Film Festival

Der Passagier – Welcome to Germany
Dir. Thomas Brasch
West Germany/United Kingdom/Switzerland, 1988
102 minutes
With Tony Curtis, Katharina Thalbach, Gedeon Burkhard, Birol Ünel, Matthias Habich, Charles Régnier, Karin Baal, Irm Hermann

Part of the Thomas Brasch Retrospective

See also The Brasch Family, screening on May 17, 7pm at the Center for Jewish History

Born in England to Kindertransport refugees who were active Communists, Thomas Brasch came to embody the fault lines of German history like few other artists. As his father rose in the ranks of East Germany’s ruling party, Brasch became an uncompromisingly radical writer whose activism led to censorship and prison. After his move to West Germany, he refused to play the role of GDR dissident and focused his critique on West German society and German history in plays, poetry, and a series of brilliant but challenging films. Although he is highly regarded as a translator of Chekhov’s and Shakespeare’s works into German, none of Brasch’s own writing has ever been published in English. His major films, jarring meditations on German history such as The Passenger – Welcome to Germany (1988, starring Tony Curtis as a choleric Hollywood director who returns to Germany to make a film about his experience in a concentration camp), are rarely shown in the United States.

This spring, Leo Baeck Institute, the Goethe-Institut New York, the German Film Office, the German Consulate General in New York, Deutsches Haus at NYU, and the Friends of Freiburg Alumni of North America will introduce U.S. audiences to this remarkable artist and his story.

On May 24, 2pm, the life and legacy of the multifaceted artist Thomas Brasch will be the topic of an online panel discussion including Prof. Cathy Gelbin (University of Manchester), German Consul General in New York David Gill, and artist Alexander Polzin. Registreation required.