Almost exactly twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an acclaimed German film-maker, Andreas Dresen, whose work often portrays the contemporary conditions in the areas of Germany which were once part of communist East Germany, is visiting Swansea as the first ever film-maker in residence at the University's Centre for Contemporary German Culture.
Andreas Dresen has been at the forefront of film-making in Germany for more than two decades. His visit to Swansea is part of the Think German Wales Network, which was launched last July by MEP Jill Evans, and has been supported financially by the German Embassy.
Dresen’s first feature-length film, "Silent Country" ("Stilles Land" 1992), was set in a regional theatre showing a radical director organise a production of the previously banned "Waiting for Godot".
The time is the autumn of 1989, when protests across East Germany brought thousands onto the streets, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November. The message is that action outside the theatre sometimes becomes more compelling and yet more absurd than any drama that can be staged inside it.
Through his choice of milieu and subject matter Dresen has shown loyalty to the citizens of the former East Germany, where nearly all his work to date has been set.
Picture: Germans celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall, November 1989
According to Dresen everyday life is the most exciting artistic subject, but he presents stories of love, jealousy and betrayal in original settings, and is ready to treat difficult subjects often shunned by cinema, such as erotic passion in old age ("Cloud 9" "Wolke 9", 2009) or sudden terminal illness in the prime of life ("Stopped on track", "Halt auf freier Strecke", 2012).
Andreas Dresen will be working with students of German at Swansea University during his visit. In addition, there are two public events on 26 November:
Wednesday 26 November
2 pm: Sommer vorm Balkon, ("Summer in Berlin") (2006), screening in Taliesin Cinema, Swansea University, followed by discussion
Sommer vorm Balkon (2006) is a tragicomic movie which focuses on two women and their daily struggle for survival during a summer in Berlin. It is Dresen’s most popular film to date.
The post-screening discussion will be chaired by PhD students, Luke Edwards and Jenny Watson. The screening is open to all, including learners of German and Film from local schools through the Think German Wales Network. The film has English sub-titles and the discussion will be in English.
7pm Andreas Dresen in Conversation (SURF room, first floor, Fulton House. Swansea University)
Director of the Swansea Centre for Contemporary German Culture, Professor Julian Preece, and Dr Nick Hodgin (Lancaster) will lead a conversation with Dresen about his inspirations and influences, his experiences in the contemporary German film industry, and his collaborations with famous actors and screenwriters. Preece and Hodgin are editing a volume of essays on Dresen’s work which will be published next year and in which an edited version of this interview will also appear.
Both these events are free and open to all: for enquiries and to reserve a place, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Andreas Dresen said:
"I have been in discussions with Swansea University for about two years and I am very pleased that the visit can now finally go ahead, especially as it is 25 years since the Fall of the Wall. What a great coincidence. I am very much looking forward to meeting Swansea students, to the screenings and the conversations in Swansea."
Professor Julian Preece, head of the Centre for Contemporary German Culture at Swansea University, said:
"We are delighted to welcome Andreas Dresen to Swansea To have someone of his stature as our first-ever film-maker in residence is a major coup for us.
The events on the programme will give our students, local school pupils studying German, and the wider public, an opportunity to find out more about the cinema industry in contemporary Germany.
Our students will be fascinated by his first-hand experience of life in East Germany under communism and witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall, all of which he has drawn on extensively in his films. Almost exactly twenty-five years on from that world-changing event, the timing of his visit could not be more apt.”
Picture: Inka Friedrich (left) and Nadja Uhl (right), lead actors in Summer in Berlin, directed by Andreas Dresen.
- Thursday 20 November 2014 16.20 GMT
- Thursday 20 November 2014 16.21 GMT
- RIAH, Swansea University