New German Cinema

1998

Germany

Media & Culture

During the 1998 Berlin International Film Festival, a fresh gust of wind blows into the cinemas: films by, with, and about migrants redefine the boundaries of German film.

In the late 1990s, numerous films emerged in Germany that took a new approach to tackling themes of “cultural identity”. Rather than expounding upon questions of origin and identity or clinging to stereotypical portrayals, these films chose to tell confident alternative stories in which cultural identity represented but one aspect. Thus, director FatihAkın’s 1998 debut Short and Painless (Kurz und Schmerzlos) is not primarily a film about migrant youths, but deals above all with the topic of friendship. While filmmakers, in order that their projects be supported, had previously been compelled to reproduce expected cultural clichés, the New German Cinema demonstrated that another approach was possible. Here, the clear boundaries between supposedly distinct cultures are called into question in an often humorous manner: for example, the 1998 film I’m the Boss, You’re a Sneaker (Ich Chef, Du Turnschuh), directed by Hussein Kutlucan, shows that a film about migrants “is also a film about Germany” and that the issue of asylum can be approached with humor. Other important products of the New German Cinema, sometimes also referred to as the German-Turkish cinema, include Siblings/Kardeşler (Geschwister/Kardeşler) by Thomas Arslan (1997) and April’s Children (April Kinder), by YükselYavuz (1998).