Franz Winzentsen

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Franz Winzentsen (born January 10, 1939 in Hamburg ) is an important contemporary experimental and animation filmmaker. His short and long films tend to encompass abstract "moving graphics", playful animation sequences of various techniques as well as photo montages and real scenes on ironic, very personal comments on German history of the 20th century.


After graduating from high school in 1959, Franz Winzentsen began studying painting, graphics and photography at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts . He also took part in experiments with puppets. He finished his studies in 1964 with the state examination as an art teacher and wrote the first film produced at the University of Fine Arts, the animated film Persecution , as a thesis in graphics .

From 1964 he worked in the animation studio Cinegrafik Helmut Herbst of Helmut Herbst , designed trick parts for commercial and documentary films as well as the trailer for the third television program of the NDR. In 1970 he became a partner in the company.

In 1965 he married the graphic artist Ursula Asher (born August 4, 1939, Hamm / Westphalia), with whom he produced animation films until 1973 at Cinegrafik, then in his own production, which also won prizes at international festivals. In a mixed form of graphics and placement trick from found materials, u. a. Experiences of a Doll (1966), Dust (first joint film with Ursula Winzentsen, 1967 Prix Special du Jury at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival ) and Windstill . In Der Turm , Winzentsen developed his concept of "moving graphics" furthest.

Franz and Ursula Winzentsens were active members of the film scene in Hamburg in the second half of the 1960s and co-founders of the Hamburg Filmmaker Cooperative in 1968 .

The Puppet and Mask Theater Rhubarb developed from the occupation with experimental hand puppets , which performed various programs from 1972–83 ( plays for Karl , 1974, Hamburg; plays for the great Glau , 1980, Malersaal Hamburg; Das Zelt , 1983, Bochum) . In 1972 they received first prize for the play Das Flugzeug at the international puppet theater festival in Bochum. Some plays have also been recorded for television.

The birth of their daughter Hannah (1969) sparked an interest in children's films among Ursula and Franz Winzentsen. They drew and shot over 90 short spots (1–2 min) of the series Franz and Flüsterpferd for NDR's children's magazine programs ( Maxifant and Minifant , Lapislazuli , The Wolf and the Woman ) . Half-hour compilations with a framework story were created from several episodes: Tales from the Whisper Horse (1978), Tales from Franz (1979).

For the experimental children's film department of the WDR, the Winzentsens produced a series of successful animated films with stories about animals ( Starmaus 1 and Starmaus 2 ; When the hedgehogs got bigger ; Channel igator ), which were also broadcast under the common title Professorengeschichten . These graphic and children's films were mostly created using a combination of drawing and laying tricks. When the hedgehogs got bigger, they received a silver film ribbon at the German Film Prize in 1980 and were awarded at the Prix ​​jeunesse .

As the daughter got older, the themes of these children's films became more complicated and increasingly mixed reality and fantasy, as in Der Kleistermann . Even after their separation, the Winzentsens continued to work together on children's films, now playing more and more abstractly with the possibilities of the medium: there and back travel (1984/85), telephone fever (1984/85). La Brouette / The Wheelbarrow (1986) was the last film they made together, and in 1987 they got divorced.

In the same year Franz Winzentsen took over a professorship for animation film at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts. In addition to his teaching activity, he tries out various animation film techniques in numerous short films: in addition to laying out trick, also animation and photo animation. He has summarized these episodes since 1982 in a series of short films, which he described as the results of my animation diary: Flamingo - From my animation diary (1982 Grand Prize of the Stuttgart International Animated Film Festival ), The Great Storm (1992), The Porcelain Shop (1995).

In the later short episodes, Winzentsen's constant interest in political developments became more apparent. He linked this with motifs from his own biography to ironic commentaries on German history in the second half of the 20th century. Perhaps the most important film in this series of short and feature-length films was Die Anprobe (1938) in 1984/85 , the title of which alluded to Winzentsen's birth during the Nazi era. The Queen of the Black Market (1986-89) continued the time and took up numerous graphic and thematic motifs from the abstract animation films.

One technique he used in these films was to combine an allegedly "naive" or "professional idiot" comment with documentary and alienated images from the war and the post-war period. The feature film Der Fotograf (1988/89), for which the documentarist Thomas Mitscherlich filmed a framework story with actors, was a fictional chronicle from the imperial era to the economic miracle.

In 1991 the TV feature film The Downfall of the Golden Loom was made based on the story The Loom by Hermann Kasack as a mixture of real scenes with long animation parts.

In addition to the production of films, since the 1980s, Winzentsen became increasingly interested in texts and artefacts from found and graphically designed material, which, however, always remained associated with the films. He published these in various exhibitions and brochures.

In 2001, his professorship at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts ended when he retired. Franz Winzentsen lives in Stade with his second wife, the educator Ann-Louise Brette-Winzentsen. He works in his studio, a converted former goods shed at the Kutenholz train station near Bremervörde.

Filmography (selection)

  • 1966: Experiences of a doll, animated film (laying trick)
  • 1967: Dust, animated film (layout), International Animated Film Festival 1967: Prix special du Jury
  • 1969: calm, animated film (laying trick)
  • 1971–75: Franz, animation parts for the television series "Maxifant and Minifant", (with Ursula Winzentsen)
  • 1974: The Tower (Rapunzel), animated film (animated graphics)
  • 1975/76: Starmaus, TV animation film (cartoon) for children, (with Ursula Winzentsen)
  • 1976–78: Whisper horse, animation parts for the television series "Lapislazuli" and "The Wolf and the Woman", (with Ursula Winzentsen)
  • 1978/79: When the hedgehogs got bigger, TV animation film (cartoon) for children, (with Ursula Winzentsen)
  • 1980–82: Flamingo - from my animation diary 1980–82, animated film (drawing and laying trick)
  • 1981: Kanalligator, TV animation film (cartoon) for children, (with Ursula Winzentsen)
  • 1982–84: The Kleistermann, animated TV film (drawing and laying trick) for children, (with Ursula Winzentsen)
  • 1984: Starmaus II. One mouse year later, animated TV film (cartoon) for children, (with Ursula Winzentsen)
  • 1984: The Amber Dragonfly, animated TV film (cartoon) for children, (with Ursula Winzentsen)
  • 1985: The invention of cod, animated TV film (laying trick) for children (with Ursula Winzensten)
  • 1985: The fitting 1938, animated film (drawing, photo and laying trick)
  • 1988: The Photographer, feature film with animation parts, (with Thomas Mitscherlich)
  • 1988: The Queen of the Black Market, animated film (photo and real parts), European Short Film Festival Berlin 1989 - main prize
  • 1991: The fall of the golden loom, feature film with animation parts
  • 1992: The great storm. From my animation diary 1992, animated film (drawing and laying trick)
  • 1995: The china shop. From my animation diary 1995, animation film (drawing and laying trick)
  • 1997: The broom maker, the photographer and the cook. 3 short portraits from my animation diary 1997, real and animation film
  • 2001/02: Saba Meersburg, animation film (drawing and laying trick)
  • 2005/06: Der Jagdteufel, animated film
  • 2005/06: hunters and artists. Two minorities in comparison, animated film
  • 2008: The electric healer, animated film
  • 2009: The so-called Bremen Town Musicians, animated film
  • 2012: The conference or the back of the moon, animated film (stop motion, puppet animation), FBW 2012: Predicate particularly valuable (film of the month)
  • 2016: Home leave. From an astronaut's sketchbook, animated film


  • Hannah & Ursula & Franz Winzentsen: We had always wanted a coffee pot . Hamburg 1980.
  • Franz Winzentsen: From my nomad museum. Hannah's homemade toys . Hamburg 1982.
  • Franz Winzentsen: The fall of the golden loom. Documents related to the film . Hamburg 1991, 28 pp.
  • Franz Winzentsen: power plant or crematorium. The estate of the architect Carl Christian Wintersberg . Kutenholz 1995, 47 pp.
  • Hans-Michael Bock (compilation): Franz Winzentsen . Wilhelmshaven: Art School 'Die Werft' / Hamburg: CineGraph - Hamburg Center for Film Research 1996, (Monograph 1), 94 pp. ISBN 3-930510-65-0

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