Unleashed by the markets that led to the Great Recession, processes of gentrification rapidly transform major German cities. The experiences of urban transformation have found critical expression in documentary and feature film. This article reviews the cultural history of gentrification in Germany. It takes up theoretical investigations of urban planning by Henri Lefebvre and Thomas Dörfler, reviews the influence of urban planners like Richard Florida, and considers resistance movements like the militante gruppe and Marke Hamburg. In a survey of recent documentaries, the analysis focuses on Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen (2009) and Tatjana Turanskyj's Eine flexible Frau (The Drifters, 2010). It explores how these films take up a tradition of Großstadtfilm including Walter Ruttmann's Berlin—die Sinfonie der Großstadt and Fritz Lang's Metropolis (both 1927). As contemporary feature films, however, they offer an alternative social imaginary for life in Hamburg and Berlin. Akin relies on hybrid genre conventions to produce a comedic new Heimatfilm, while Turanskyj deploys an unemployed architect as skeptical flaneuse for a more tragic investigation. Both films critically represent localism contra globalism, rent and rate-of-return gap, second modernity, the creative class and its precariat.
Randall Halle; Großstadtfilm and Gentrification Debates: Localism and Social Imaginary in Soul Kitchen and Eine flexible Frau. New German Critique 1 November 2013; 40 (3 (120)): 171–191. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-2325464
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