Screening Politics—Film Festivals, Archives and Cinematic Exhibition in the Cold War

Organised by Carla Steinbrecher (University of St Andrews) and Anna McEwan (University of Glasgow) as part of the German Screen Studies Network

University of St Andrews, Friday 10th November–Sunday 12th November 2023

This GSSN workshop focuses on the “politics” of film exhibition in the Cold War, i.e., the influence of institutional actors from politics, culture and education on the circulation, canonization and preservation of films (organisations, archives, festivals, parties, museums, etc.). The event brings together postgraduate, early career and established researchers to explore the variety of ways films were circulated and preserved across the world.

Friday, 10.11


3–4 pm 


Coffee & Tea

Academic Speed Dating

Location: Wardlaw Museum, 7 The Scores

4–4:15 pm


4:15—5:45 pm


Film, International Relations and the Cold War

Or: What Does a Photo of the Reichstag Fire Tell Us About Film Festivals in the Cold War?


Andreas Kötzing, Hannah-Arendt-Institut für Totalitarismusforschung e. V.,

Technische Universität Dresden

5:45–7:00 pm

Pizza & Wine

7:30–9:30 pm

Film Screening and Q&A


Studio H&S, Mitbürger! (Compatriots!), 1974 (8 min)

El golpe blanco/Der weiße Putsch (The White Coup), 1975 (68 min)


Location: Buchanan Lecture Theatre, Buchanan Building, School of Modern Languages, Union Street

©DEFA-Stiftung, Design: Walter Martsch

Saturday, 11.11.


9:30–9:45 am

Welcome, Wardlaw Museum, 7 The Scores

9:45–11:15 am

Panel 1

Looking Inward, Looking Outward: DEFA and the Global Cold War  

10–15 min presentations; 30­–50 min Discussion


Evelyn Preuss (University of Oklahoma): Projecting Beyond the GDR: Identity, Transnationalism and World Revolution


Matthew Parry (University of Cambridge): Moving Between Media: Lutz Dammbeck’s REALFilm as Intermedial Cinematic Exhibition


Erica Carter (King’s College London): DEFA’s Ghana Films and Transnational Archive Research


Carla Steinbrecher (University of St Andrews): Festival Films and East German Cultural Diplomacy in the 1970s

11:15–11:30 am

Coffee Break

11:30–1 pm

Panel 2

An Opening in the Iron Curtain: Film Festivals as Spaces of Transnational Exchange


Elizabeth Ward (Europa-University Viadrina; MSCA Fellow at University of Leipzig): Screening German Film during the Cold War


Perrine Val (Centre Marc Bloch e.V.): DEFA-Films at Cannes Film Festival: The GDR Overshadowed by its Successes (MS Teams)


Hanna Stein (University of Graz): Cold War and Non-Alignment—The Yugoslav Participation at the Amateur Film Festivals of Socialist Countries 


Maria Fernanda Mino Puga (University of St Andrews): State Funding and Film Festivals during 21st Century Socialism in Ecuador

1–2 pm

Lunch Break, Wardlaw Museum, 7 The Scores

2–2:30 pm

Marshall Plan Films about Western Germany and Greece (Katerina Loukopoulou, Middlesex University London)

Extracts from Air of Freedom (Newsreel, 1950), City out of Darkness (dir. Max Diekhout, 1950), Changing Face of Europe: The Good Life (Dir. Humphrey Jennings and Graham Wallace, 1951), Island Odyssey (Newsreel, 1950)

(Note: linked films can be pre-watched online)

2:30–4 pm

Panel 3

Film Production as a Form of Political Intervention in the Cold War  


Katerina Loukopoulou: Screening Geopolitical Futures Past: A Comparison of the Marshall Plan’s Media Campaign in Greece and Western Germany


Andrea Gelardi (University of Bari Aldo Moro): Let the Saharawis Talk: Production Modes and Circulation Strategies in Med Hondo’s Polisario, un Peuple en Armes (France-Mauritania,1978)


Anna Bernard (King’s College London): Marc Karlin’s Nicaragua and the Pedagogy of Solidarity


Nahuel Ribke (The Open University of Israel): Costa-Gavras’ Latin American Films and The Formation of Transnational Cold War Imaginaries, Networks and Audiences (MS Teams)


Coffee Break

4:15–5:15 pm

Panel 4

Cinematic Fora of International Gender Politics and Activism 


Dalila Missero (Lancaster University): The Film Forum and Nairobi ‘85: Mapping Alliances and Networks of Solidarity during the UN Decade of Women


Patricia Lehner (King’s College London): “Zwischen wunderbaren Frauen—Surrounded by Wonderful Women”? The Festival as a Political Space 50 Years after the First Frauen-Filmseminar in Berlin 1973

5:15–5:30 pm

Coffee Break

5:30–7 pm


Contemporary Film Festivals, their Historical Legacies, and Possible Futures

Chaired by Elizabeth Ward

Participants: Andrea Gelardi, Maria Fernanda Mino Puga, Rafael Dernbach

7:30 pm 


Maisha Indian and Seafood Restaurant, 5 College Street

Followed by Cold War Cinema Pub Quiz

Sunday, 12.11.


We welcome online participation. Please register with Anna McEwan ([email protected]) or Carla Steinbrecher ([email protected]).

For more news on German film studies in the UK and beyond, follow the GSSN on Twitter (@G_S_S_N) and Facebook.

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