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On 28 February 1962, at the 8th West German Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, 26 West German filmmakers proclaimed the Oberhausen Manifesto. This moment marked a milestone in the development of German cinema – never before, and never again, would a break with existing production conditions be demanded, and induced, with such vehemence.


With a deliberately confrontational mixture between a crushing diagnosis of the German film industry and vehement emotionalism, the 26 signatories to the Oberhausen Manifesto claimed license to create a whole new German film. An essential component of the proclamation made in Oberhausen was the demand for the kind of production conditions that would enable them to put an end to the lethargy weighing down German film in the early 1960s. On the one hand, the Oberhauseners took up a political stance on film from the very beginning, and on the other they also declared themselves to be the creative spearhead in the fraught process of determining the form and content of German film to come.


In 2012, the Festival organized an international project titled "Provoking Reality – 50 Years of the Oberhausen Manifesto". Due to a cooperation of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen with Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv and Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen, nearly 40 films by the signatories to the Oberhausen Manifesto were restored and preserved. Retrospectives were held in Berlin, Oberhausen, Pesaro, New York and Vienna. Also the book "Provoking Reality. The Oberhausen Manifesto and Its Consequences", edited by Ralph Eue and Lars Henrik Gass, has been published. This anthology conjoins largely unknown texts by Theodor W. Adorno, Alexander Kluge and Uwe Nettelbeck with a series of current essays and interviews. A double DVD was released as part of the series "Edition Filmmuseum" and features nearly 20 titles from the years 1957 to 1965, by filmmakers including Peter Schamoni, Herbert Vesely, Edgar Reitz and Christian Doermer, as well as extensive bonus material.


These interviews with witnesses and experts of the Oberhausen Manifesto are form the anniversary year in 2012:


Jutta Brückner, author, filmmaker, university professor

Ellen Wietstock, film journalist

Romuald Karmakar, filmmaker

Ulrich Gregor, film critic

Chris Tedjasukmana, film scholar

Peter Berling, filmmaker, actor and producer

Robert Drew, American documentary producer

Hilmar Hoffmann, founder and director of the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival from 1954 to 1970

Sebestyén Kodolányi, archive director of Béla Balázs Studio (BBS) in Budapest

Siegfried Zielinski, media theorist and director of the Vilém Flusser Archive at the Berlin University of the Arts


Pictures from the year 1962 can be found here.


Contact: Sabine Niewalda