Oberhausen Manifesto

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Oberhausen Manifesto,
February 28, 1962

The Oberhausen Manifesto is a statement on February 28, 1962 at the " 8th West German Short Film Festival " Oberhausen at a press conference entitled "Daddy's cinema is dead" was issued by 26 filmmakers, including Peter Schamoni and Edgar Reitz , which until then were mainly successful in short and documentary films. The aim was to renew the West German film production, which was considered desolate at the time, and the aim of the short film directors to create a new German feature film . The manifesto did not specifically describe the new German film, but demanded and promised more independence for the filmmakers.

It was an action by the “ DOC 59 ” group from Munich under the direction of Haro Senft . The text was read out by Ferdinand Khittl , and the following discussion was moderated by Alexander Kluge . The signatories of the manifesto were in future referred to by the press as the " Oberhausen Group ". Film historians are increasingly seeing this date as the hour of birth of the " New German Film " and thus also the beginning of the socio-political trend reversal in German film culture after the Second World War . In 1982, twenty years later, the “Oberhausen Group” was awarded the “ German Film Prize ”.

Other signatories were Bodo Blüthner, Boris von Borresholm, Christian Doermer , Bernhard Dörries , Heinz Furchner, Bob Houwer, Pitt Koch, Walter Krüttner , Dieter Lemmel, Hans Loeper, Roland Martini, Hansjürgen Pohland , Raimond Ruehl, Detten Schleiermacher, Fritz Schwennicke, Franz -Josef Spieker , Hans Rolf Strobel, Heinz Tichawsky, Wolfgang Urchs , Herbert Vesely and Wolf Wirth .

1962 press conference title

The history

Farewell to "Papas Kino"

Theoretically, the criticism of conventional cinema was fed by various sources: The Frankfurt School of Philosophy criticized a culture industry in which cultural goods became goods , but in the process more and more lost artistic standards. An example of Grandpa's cinema in this context was the entertainment film, for example the Heimatfilm , from the 1950s. He reconciled with the consumer society of the economic miracle and was part of it at the same time, he promised security and recovery from the hardships of life, he helped to suppress memories of the Nazi era, was economically very successful, but he had no artistic or intellectual claim . He described a dream world that had never existed like this. The slogan at the time was: "Have a nice few hours, go to the cinema."

By the early 1960s, groups of younger filmmakers had formed in several countries who were trying to make a new feature film. B. " Nouvelle Vague ", " Free Cinema ", " Cinema Novo ", " Cinema Direct ". Directors such as Jean-Luc Godard or Éric Rohmer were part of a counter-movement to the old cinema, which exaggerated or reversed common film clichés from Hollywood (e.g. the happy ending ), so no longer took familiar cinema conventions seriously, and in recourse even on theories of Bert Brecht or Walter Benjamin, did not want to offer the viewer a beautiful illusion into which one could let oneself fall, not passive, happy consumption , but which demanded a critical examination of the viewer. Performers suddenly spoke and moved in new ways and told of new styles of life in their roles. The usual timing of actions became unclear. At Godard, actors addressed the audience directly or discussed the film in which they were currently involved.

No longer economic aspects and popular genres and motifs, but the individual author as an artist and his search for artistic expression in the medium of film should now be the focus. The film should also show its own production method, its own production.

In addition, there was an increased interest in realism , tragedy , failure, social and political conflicts in society (similar to Italian neorealism ) and in the psychological inner workings and processes of individually portrayed figures (for example with Rainer Werner Fassbinder ). Cinema should no longer be an entertaining distraction , but rather challenge and surprise the viewer and also come into conflict with their views or viewing habits, similar to theater , literature , and painting (see also film theory ). It should no longer affirm the world as it was , but question and ultimately change it.

However, this did not necessarily mean giving up the claim to create works that were entertaining for the audience, even if this renunciation was a means of provocation that was gladly used.

Film form

The first attempt by filmmakers to bring about a fundamental change in German film in an appeal to the public was made in August 1957 by calling for “ filmform - the third program ”. The essential, later requirements were already contained in it.

DOC 59

These efforts were expanded and consolidated by the amalgamation of filmmakers from the field of short and documentary films at the beginning of 1959 under the name “ DOC 59 - Group for Film Design” in Munich. They have all had successes at international festivals such as “West German Short Film Festival Oberhausen”, “Culture and Documentary Film Week Mannheim”, “Experimental Film Festival Knokke le Zout”, the “Short Film Festival in Tours” and others. This also led to contacts with foreign film artists.

The surrounding

Almost everywhere the openness to the art of film was greater than in the Federal Republic and in many countries there were protective and relief measures for local film production. Since the German cultural competence lay with the “Länder” that did not feel responsible for the film (with the exception of a film subsidy from the Ministry of Culture of North Rhine-Westphalia fed from the cinema entertainment tax ), the possibilities of the federal government were limited. The Ministry of the Interior distributed prizes and bonuses of up to about 15 million DM annually, while the funding of theaters and other stage events by state and municipal institutions amounted to about 2 billion DM. There have seldom been German feature films of qualitative importance, for example by Wolfgang Staudte , Helmut Käutner or Victor Vicas . There were contacts with Georg Tressler , Ottomar Domnick , Bernhard Wicki and Géza von Radványi . The film journalist Joe Hembus made a significant analysis of the situation in his publication The German Film Can't Be Better .

The legitimation of the signatories

Price list

Among the 26 signatories were

To inform the public and the press, an overview of the group members' previous successes was distributed at the same time as the manifesto.

Reaction and impact

During the discussion that followed the reading of the resolution during the press conference, the majority of journalists and film bureaucrats present showed an irritated to condescending attitude towards the group's demands. The film-political explosiveness of the action became noticeable. The subsequent press echo was great, albeit mostly negative and full of malice. The calculation mentioned as an example during the discussion that 10 new feature films would require funding of around DM 5 million, became the cause of many-faced indignation. The feature film industry initially responded with a unified defense. Most movie theater owners misunderstood the slogan “Papa's cinema is dead” and saw their business attacked. The mockery of “Bubis Kino” and the “Obermünchhauseners” quickly spread, and even decades later, several people boasted that these catchphrases were authorship. In the years that followed, well-known film critics could not avoid calling for the announcements of the "Oberhausen" family, but without dealing with the production, distribution and funding conditions. Even 10 years later, after the recognized successes of “Young German Films”, many journalists still felt a latent rejection of “artistic endeavors”. In many places, political opposition also formed that saw a danger in the largely autonomous creation of films. The social debate about the topic of "film culture" was continued and new groups of young talent emerged.

A number of misrepresentations of the manifesto can be found in the history of film and journalism, right up to the “obituaries” for the 40th anniversary of the manifest reading in the major daily newspapers .

Subsequent actions of the group

Establishing a foundation

As early as June 20, 1962, 14 members of the group founded a non-profit company with limited liability in Munich with the title “Foundation for Young German Film”, which was later converted in 1965 into the public film funding body Kuratorium Junge deutscher Film . Norbert Kückelmann was appointed as managing director . The objectives of the "Oberhausen Group" are formulated in more detail in the founding document than in the so-called manifesto:


The crisis in German film is not primarily due to economic reasons. This realization has become common in the last few months. It turns out that the previous aid did not bring the German film industry national or international economic or artistic success.
“This new film needs new freedoms. Freedom from customary industry conventions. Freedom from the influence of commercial partners. Freedom from paternalism by interest groups. ”
This was one of the key demands of the declaration made by 26 young authors and directors, which they presented to the public at the height of the economic crisis in German film - on February 28, 1962 in Oberhausen during the West German Short Film Festival.

This "Oberhausen Declaration", a protest against the level and practice of previous German film production, met with a wide response, sparked constructive discussions and has consequences.
Aware of the tasks that film has to do in our society today, the signatories of the “Oberhausen Declaration”, together with other responsible actors in film, establish an institution that is intended to create one of the prerequisites for the renewal of German film. In the future, you will give the young talented artists the chance to develop and realize their intentions. - This institution is an integral part of an overall concept for the reorganization of German film.
Therefore, the signatories of this contract establish a non-profit company with limited liability “Foundation for Young German Film”.

Purpose of society

II § 3 The company promotes the cultural and intellectual reorganization of young German film in the sense of the preamble in an exclusively and directly charitable manner in accordance with the non-profit ordinance of December 24, 1953, and in particular through:

  1. Promotion of the production of the first German feature films by young filmmakers,
  2. Development of an overall artistic and cultural-political concept for German film,
  3. Integration of productive forces from other art areas in the efforts to renew German film,
  4. Maintaining and promoting public relations work through film and researching and developing new possibilities of film for popular education,
  5. Establishing and maintaining contacts with international young film as well as cultural representation of the new German film abroad,
  6. Funding of artistic and film technical development and research work,
  7. Promotion of the short film as a field of experimentation and basis of film in general. In doing so, the foundation aims to promote the further development of non-commissioned short films, in particular short fiction films, non-fiction films, social documentaries and free experimental films.

Choice of group speakers

In a group meeting on November 16, 1962, the following members were elected as group speakers in this order: Haro Senft , Raimond Rühl and Bodo Blüthner . As deputies: Ferdinand Khittl and Detten Schleiermacher .

Continuation of teaching at the HfG Ulm

As a continuation of the teaching activities by members of the “ DOC 59 ” group, a film department was set up at the “Hochschule für Gestaltung” in Ulm ( HfG Ulm ) in December 1962 , as there were no training centers for young film talent in the Federal Republic of Germany. The responsible federal states had also shown no interest so far and the film industry closed itself off against such efforts. Bernhard Dörries, Alexander Kluge, Edgar Reitz, Detten Schleiermacher and Haro Senft were primarily active in Ulm. The " German Film and Television Academy Berlin GmbH " (DFFB) was not established until 1965, the "University for Television and Film" (HFF) in Munich only in 1966.

BMI decree on directorial funding

Giving in to the increasing pressure from the press and the public, the then Federal Minister of the Interior, Hermann Höcherl, declared in 1964 to a delegation from the Oberhausen group (Alexander Kluge, Hans Rolf Strobel and Norbert Kückelmann) that he was willing to set up a "directorial subsidy" instead of the previously unsuccessful script funding. This led to a corresponding decree in November 1964, and in February 1965 to the establishment of the “Kuratorium Junge deutscher Film” as the commissioned funding agency. A year later, in October 1965, out of 20 applications, the first six prizes were awarded for first feature films, which were then also made in 1966 and 1967:

Foundation of a second producer association

The preparation of the first Federal German Film Funding Act (FFG) by the German Bundestag showed that the new generation of directors and producers were heard, but were not recognized as an institution and also had no economic right to be represented. On October 24, 1966, this led to the founding of a second producers' association, the “ Arbeitsgemeinschaft neue deutscher Spielfilmproduierenden eV ” in Munich. The 10 founding members were Horst Manfred Adloff, Boris Borresholm, Roger Fritz, Peter Genée, Rob Houwer, Walter Krüttner, Hans-Jürgen Pohland, Christian Rischert, Peter Schamoni and Haro Senft. Six of them were co-signers of the “Oberhausen Manifesto”. Horst Manfred Adloff and Haro Senft were elected as board members, and Peter Genée and Christian Rischert were elected as deputies. Within a few weeks the number of members increased to 30 and from the seventies the "working group" became the leading producer association with over 50 members. The FFG came into force on January 1st, 1968. The Filmförderungsanstalt (FFA) was founded in Berlin to implement the law . In protest against the legal text that was unilaterally postponed at the last moment to the detriment of up-and-coming producers, the “working group” refused for years to take the two seats on the board of directors intended for them.

The beginning of the "New German Feature Film"

Apart from Herbert Vesely's bread in the early years of 1961, when the financing of the first six feature films began in 1966, a real dawn of new production activities. The catchphrase “ auteur film ” became known because the new feature film directors, often obeying the necessity, simultaneously became the scriptwriters of their films and even their producers. By the beginning of the 1970s, the " New German Film " was already internationally known and the occasion for countless "German Film Weeks" on all continents. The directors of the "first wave" until 1972 and their debut feature films were:

Original text of the Oberhausen Manifesto

“The collapse of conventional German film is finally removing the economic foundation for a mindset that we rejected. This gives the new film the chance to come to life.

German short films by young authors, directors and producers have received a large number of prizes at international festivals in recent years and have been recognized by international critics. This work and its successes show that the future of German film lies with those who have proven that they speak a new language of film.

As in other countries, short film has become a school and field of experimentation for feature films in Germany.

We declare our claim to create the new German feature film.

This new film needs new freedoms. Freedom from customary industry conventions. Freedom from the influence of commercial partners. Freedom from patronizing interest groups.

We have specific intellectual, formal and economic ideas about the production of the new German film. Together we are ready to take economic risks.

The old film is dead. We believe in the new one. "


Film retrospective

“For the first time, on the 50th anniversary of the Oberhausen Manifesto, the films of the signatories and those around them were systematically collected and restored. Since the beginning of May 2012, the double DVD has been in the "Edition Filmmuseum" series with almost 20 titles from the years 1957 to '65, u. a. from Peter Schamoni, Herbert Vesely, Edgar Reitz, Christian Doermer, as well as extensive bonus material available. "


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Carl Schünemann Verlag, Bremen 1961.
  2. see Bert Rebhandl: An almost forgotten victory over papa. ( Memento of the original from June 7, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: FAZ of February 23, 2012, page 33, ( PDF , 1 S .; 1.3 MB)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.oberhausener-manifest.com
  3. online see web links
  4. ↑ Source of supply for the double DVD: Provocation of Reality. The ›Oberhausen‹. Edition Filmmuseum 69, 2012
  5. "Provocation of Reality": The DVD edition of the Oberhausen Manifesto ( Memento of the original from April 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , oberhausener-manifest.com, 2012 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.oberhausener-manifest.com
  6. ^ Review by Achim Lettmann: The film "The Rebels of Oberhausen" is reminiscent of the dawn of auteur cinema. In: Westfälischer Anzeiger , April 24, 2012

This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on March 12, 2006 .