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  • AutorenbildLars Henriks

Introducing the New Wave of German Genre film

I'd like to introduce you to what we've been doing over here for the past 10 years and only recently started to call the "New Hamburg School" (it's a play on the short-lived music scene "Hamburg School", which was a play on the philosophical "Frankfurt school" ... It's a whole thing, whatever, you had to be there, I guess).

The New Hamburg School is a tiny movement of truly independent filmmakers from Hamburg, Germany, making sort-of-comedic, sort-of-horror-adjacent, philosophical, genre-inspired arthouse films.

The Hamburg scene says:

In Munich, they make films about senior citizens.

In Berlin, they make films about themselves.

In Hamburg, we make films about death, dressed as a clown from outer space, telling the saddest jokes about cosmic dread you’ve ever heard.

Germany, like most European countries, has a federal funding board for film. As a consequence from how that is handled and the tiny market for German language film, professional film production hasn't been possible here without funds from the state, effectively granting the state the power to decide what's getting made - Without even having to explain those decisions.

It's a whole thing, everybody knows about it, everybody hates it, but it won't change, for an infinite number of reasons.

One of the side-effects of this centralized film industry is the fact, that genre film doesn't get made. In general, originality is hard to get past the, let's call them what they are, censors.

In the 2010's, technology started to emerge that delivered high quality images and sound on a consumer-grade budget. That fact, coupled with the frustration of countless artists working in the German film industry, lead to the formation of Germany's first professional independent film movement.

(By the way: I keep saying "Frist PROFESSIONAL movement" not because I want to put anyone down, but because there has been a considerable independent film movement in the late 80's and all through the 90's - The "Amateur Splatter" scene, which also grew out of a history of censorship and has produced remarkable work - But with an important emphasis of the films being amateur productions, which was a word they wore as a badge of honor. One day, I'll write about that scene, too, since it's an interesting topic.)

The "Obsessive Underground Film Festival" as the main platform for films of this wave was founded in 2013 and has been held twice a year until two of the three organizers left the country in 2018. It will be revived once cultural events are allowed again in Germany, which is expected to happen in 2022.

So, there's a movement, a festival at its center - Now, what are the films and where can they be found?

I’d suggest getting to know the New Hamburg School of filmmaking via these films (yes, I directed many of these, but bear with me!):

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