This article retraces a genealogy from the contemporary Berlin School back to German feminist film culture of the 1970s. It focuses on two films with female protagonists: Helke Sander’s watershed feminist film of the New German Cinema, Die allseitig reduzierte Persönlichkeit—Redupers (The All-Around Reduced Personality—Redupers, West Germany, 1978), and Berlin School director Angela Schanelec’s Marseille (Germany, 2004). Examining each film’s attitude toward photography through the lens of Siegfried Kracauer’s postwar theory of film realism, this article relates the politics of cinematic realism to the historically disparate stakes of subjectivity in the two films’ production contexts. In Redupers, the film’s protagonist employs photography as a means to build solidarity and assert women’s subjectivity in the face of nearly insurmountable material and social obstacles. In Marseille, by contrast, photography becomes a means of severing attachments and dispersing subjectivity. Insisting on a feminist understanding of the term counter-cinema, this article argues that Marseille—though less explicitly political than Redupers—nonetheless shares with Redupers an investment in realism that has feminist critical potential. In doing so, this article challenges the gender-blind discourses that characterize much existing scholarship on the Berlin School.
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Mary Hennessy; Photography, Subjectivity, and the Politics of the Image from Helke Sander to Angela Schanelec. Camera Obscura 1 December 2018; 33 (3 (99)): 49–73. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-7142176
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