'The old film is dead. We believe in the new one."
In February 1962, in a small German town in the coal-mining region of North Rhine-Westphalia, a group of 26 film-makers issued what was later known as the Oberhausen Manifesto, a certificate of intent that heralded a new aesthetics of German cinema in the face of the collapsing old one. It was the decade of film as hot sweat of politics: the politics of image, of representation, of art, of the federal state, of post-war tensions and uncertainties. The Oberhausen Manifesto soon became the most important document in German cinema, and evidence of how film-makers _ as part of a pan-European awakening _ could rally for a shift in the way cinema was made, perceived, experimented with, rattling the sense of complacency and torpor.
Fifty years on, the "new film" of 1962 feels newer than ever. Late in April at the 58th Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, the venue where the Manifesto was signed half a century ago, a remembrance, re-evaluation, and a quiet celebration of the films that were born during and after that 1962 declaration went on for six days, to the delight of cinephiles, critics and curators gathering at the event. The Oberhausen Festival has been known as a hotbed of avant-garde cinema and experimental short movies, and this year, the headline theme was "Provoking Reality: Oberhausen Manifest 1962-2012", a programme of vintage shorts dedicated to the spirit of new cinema from that vibrant decade.
This article is older than 60 days, which we reserve for our premium members only.You can subscribe to our premium member subscription, here.