Building German-language Cinema’s Third Machine

Submitting Institution

King's College London

Unit of Assessment

Modern Languages and Linguistics

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies

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Summary of the impact

Deriving from Brady's research on modernist cinema, and Carter's on film reception, the impact focuses on the development of UK reception contexts for German-language film. Both researchers have long worked to enhance public understanding of German-language cinema through curatorship, film talks, and forms of intercultural mediation including translation and interpreting. Since 2011-12, work has focused on creating a sustainable national initiative that translates public engagement into audience impact. The key innovation here is the German Screen Studies Network, a forum for public debate on and promotion of German-language film. Chief beneficiaries are German cinema enthusiasts, cultural partners and collaborating institutions.

Underpinning research

Martin Brady has worked at King's from 1986 to the present. His research on political modernism and recent work on contemporary German-language film (3.4-5) have led to his recruitment as an expert commentator, translator, interpreter and intercultural mediator in contexts including the DVD editions, festival events, film talks, performances, and curatorial and online publishing activities detailed in Section 4. These activities are underpinned by research on Brechtian cinema and political modernism, in particular on cinematic techniques of estrangement and distanciation developed from Brecht's dramatic theory and practice (3.2-3). Brady has written both on the philosophical issues underpinning political modernist cinema — examples are his various essays on Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and film (e.g. 3.1) — and on the Brechtian roots and context of German-language film. His 2010 monograph (3.5) explores how collaborations between dramatist Peter Handke and cineaste Wim Wenders prefigure the return to Brechtian aesthetics that occurred in the Young and New German Cinema, and that still marks contemporary German-language film. His collaborations with key contemporary auteurs including Michael Haneke, Peter Nestler, Ulrich Seidl and Alexander Kluge are grounded in ongoing research on the Brechtian roots and context of contemporary film (3.2 and 3.3). His collaboration with filmmaker and media theorist Kluge is further rooted in research on Kluge's extensive engagement in his film practice with Frankfurt School cultural theorists, including Adorno (3.1), and in Brady's (co-)translation of numerous books and articles by Kluge, including Cinema Stories (2007), and the forthcoming History and Obstinacy.

The UoA's commitment to research on German cinema was consolidated with the appointment of Erica Carter as Professor in 2011. Her arrival expanded the range of the UoA's German-language film expertise to include an emphasis on audience and critical reception. Carter's article on Werner Herzog and the sublime (3.6: written and published after 2011), forms part of an ongoing project on reception aesthetics and audience. Research on reception began with Carter's 2004 monograph Dietrich's Ghosts. The Sublime and the Beautiful in Third Reich Film, and continues with forthcoming articles on the poetics of film criticism (Screen 2014, Hagener 2014). Her commitment to the practice as well as the theory of audience formation is concretized both in her UK impact activities with Brady, and in her research collaborations with film institutions in Germany, including the Deutsches Institut für Film/Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt-am-Main (in 2013, she co-organised a postgraduate spring school with Filmmuseum curator Andrea Haller, who is also contributing an article to the forthcoming second edition of Carter et al.'s BFI German Cinema Book); and Cinegraph Hamburg, for whom Carter has served as jury member for the Willy-Haas-Preis, awarded annually for the year's best publications and DVD editions on German film history.

References to the research

(Outputs not in REF2 can be provided on request)

Brady (indicative outputs)

3.1.Chapter: `Film as music and script: Adorno's Transparencies on Film,' in In Practice: Adorno, Critical Theory and Cultural Studies, ed. Holger Briel, Andreas Kramer (Peter Lang, 2001), 161-75

3.2 Chapter: `Wide Open Spaces: Building Memory in Brechtian and Avant-garde Cinema' in Revisiting Space: Space and Place in European Cinema (New Studies in European Cinema, vol.2), ed. Wendy Everett, Axel Goodbody (Oxford, Bern, Brussels: Peter Lang, 2005), 243-55

3.3.Chapter: `Brecht in Brechtian Film', in "Verwisch die Spuren!" Bertolt Brecht's Work and Legacy: A Reassessment, ed. Robert Gillett, Godela Weiss-Sussex (Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2008), 295-308


3.4. Chapter: `Import and Export: Ulrich Seidl's Indiscreet Anthropology of Migration', GFL, (2008), 100-122 [with Helen Hughes]: Also in: New Austrian Cinema, ed. Robert von Dassanowsky, Oliver C. Speck (New York, Oxford: Berghahn, 2011), 207-224

3.5. Monograph: Wim Wenders and Peter Handke: Collaboration, Adaptation, Recomposition (Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2010), 320pp, co-author: Joanne Leal (submitted in REF2)

Carter (since appointment to Professorship at King's, February 2011)

3.6.Chapter: `Werner Herzog's African Sublime,' in Brad Prager, ed., A Companion to Werner Herzog (Oxford: Blackwell, 2012). Submitted in REF2.


Details of the impact

In 1982, the film theorist Christian Metz famously conceptualized film comment as a `third machine' of meaning production that functions alongside industry and film text to structure cinema audience response. Both Carter's current research (5.5), and the impact described here, draw inspiration from Metz's understanding of the culturally generative function of film commentary. Impact activities are thus designed to help shape Anglophone discourse on, and reception contexts for, German-language film. They build on Brady and Carter's shared core expertise in German cinema studies, and on a keen commitment to public engagement that has yielded, across a time-span of over two decades, extensive curatorial work, film talks and exhibition programming at national and regional venues including the Goethe-Institut (Brady x 4, 1991/ 1998: Carter 1996), the ICA (Carter, as ICA Talks Director 1986-8), Tate Gallery (Brady 1991), National Film Theatre/NFT (Carter 2006), BAFTA (Carter 2010) and Plymouth and Warwick Arts Centres (Brady 1996; Carter 1995-2010).

During the assessment period, this shared expertise in public engagement has provided the foundation for extended impact initiatives. Following Brady's successful collaborations since 2008 with the British Film Institute (BFI), the Cannes and London Film Festivals, Tate Modern, Serpentine Gallery, and Goethe-Institut, Carter's 2011 appointment allowed the UoA to consolidate impact activities around a joint project, the German Screen Studies Network (GSSN). The backdrop is one of audience underdevelopment. German-language productions garner under 0.1% of UK box office, with successes largely limited to historical dramas or auteur productions. Market research, however, registers audience growth in contexts which foster relevant public discourse. 50% of respondents to a 2010/11 UK-wide exhibitor survey name special cinema events as audience magnets, and acknowledge the importance of media coverage, festivals, symposia and talks in audience development (5.1-4). Academics who participate in and shape such events thus not only fulfil the cultural role described by Metz, but also have a market function in creating reception infrastructures. Carter and Brady's efforts to fulfil that dual function have taken the following three forms:

Impact 1:Translation and Interpreting as intercultural discourse (Brady)

Brady's impact activities have long centred on translation, interpreting, and public critical commentary as forms of intercultural mediation that shape public discourse. His research focus on modernism has led him repeatedly to anticipate the future promise of key modernist or experimental cineastes, and to promote their work to initially sceptical Anglophone audiences. During the assessment period, this work centred on directors Michael Haneke, Ulrich Seidl and Alexander Kluge. Brady first worked with Haneke on Benny's Video (1993). The film never achieved national theatrical release, but Brady contributed to its public recognition when he conducted a one-hour interview with Haneke for a 1993 ICA Video edition, which he also subtitled. Work on mediating Haneke's work to UK audiences continued with further interviews, including a live ICA event on Cinema and Violence to contextualize UK screenings of Haneke's controversial Funny Games (1997). Brady's prominence, ten years on, as a specialist advocate for Haneke was illustrated in the assessment period when he translated live at Haneke's 2009 Guardian Interview, as well as a BFI In Conversation event ( subtitles by Brady). He also translated on Haneke's 2009 White Ribbon DVD and, following the 2012 release of the Academy Award-winning Amour, contributed voice-over for a 2012 BBC Radio 4 Front Row interview with Haneke which reached 802,000 listeners.

Further 2012 activities included Brady's live interpreting for Haneke for the London Film Festival Gala Screening of Amour, and also at the Cannes Festival, where Amour won the Palme d'Or. His reputation as an expert interpreter, in the broadest sense, of Austrian film has been further cemented by collaborations with auteur-director Ulrich Seidl. Brady's position as Seidl's sole UK translator began in 1994, and culminated in 2013 with two events for which his participation was explicitly solicited: a two-day Danish Film School seminar; and a European Film College masterclass to which Seidl consented only " provided that [Dr Brady] will be able to translate» (EFC email, 11.1013). The grounds for Seidl's choice are illustrated by Brady's October 2011 appearance alongside directors Markus Schleinzer and Michael Glawogger at a London Film Festival special panel event, `New Austrian Cinema.' The event was the platform for a detailed extemporary analysis by Brady of Anglo-Austrian film-cultural relations as the pertinent reception context for work by Austrian practitioners including Schleinzer and Glawogger. It features on the BFI website, and its 63 views by September 2013, alongside 671 views for the BFI:Live vodcast of Haneke's LFF interview, and 2844 views for BFI:Live's extract of Haneke's Guardian event, attest to the continued significance and reach of Brady's mediating activities for Austrian film.

An early response by Alexander Kluge to his collaboration with Brady places those activities in the larger context of film audience development. In 2006 and 2009, Brady was recruited by Serpentine Gallery curator Hans Ulrich Obrist to translate films by Kluge in a live performance in the director's presence. The 2009 event comprised short films and lectures, as well as screened extracts from Kluge's News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx-Eisenstein-Das Kapital. Kluge's enthusiasm for this form of `expanded cinema' is evident from his comments on the 2006 event : " An overwhelming response from the London audience. A direct public space. I myself was astonished at the intermedial transposition. I had produced the films at different times for separate broadcasts on TV... I had never seen them before with a live audience. [...] That is alchemy. I now understood better what constitutes a film programme. Also how film programmes in early cinema must have functioned. [...] Without meeting places of this kind experience lacks self-awareness. » (5.7)

Impact 2:Developing research-based public understanding of German cinema

Kluge's comments suggest an intriguing parallel between film in a live performance with interpreter and director, and early cinema screenings whose audience impact derived as much from the presence of live film lecturers, as from the silent images on screen. The significance of intercultural mediation in shaping film reception is further evident in Brady and Carter's activities as curators and public critics. In this impact cycle, research by Brady and Carter has led directly to their recruitment as collaborators by arts and cultural institutions seeking expert support in projects on German-language film. A 2013 BFI talk by Carter on Herzog's sublime landscapes was prompted by her Herzog essay (3.6), described in an email invitation as an `insightful and engaging' discussion of Herzog's work (David Edgar, BFI Public Programmes Curator). Brady's curatorial collaboration with the Goethe-Institut and Tate Modern drew similarly on his long-standing research on political film, and on his established reputation for informed public comment. His co-curated November 2012 retrospective of films by the much-neglected documentarist Peter Nestler (5.6 & 5.11) is described in a corroborating statement by the Goethe-Institut Film Officer as resting on a `long history' of Goethe-Institut collaboration with Brady. She continues: `we have always found that his introductions added an important element to our film programmes and contributed to their appreciation by the audience.' Hence the invitations to Brady to introduce four of the ten Tate and Goethe-Institut screenings, as well as to publish an online Nestler introduction in the art magazine Afterall. As the Goethe-Institut further comments : `[This] comprehensive article on the work of Peter Nestler, one of the first....published in English, has proven very useful in drawing attention to our film season and its continuous online presence ensures that valuable information about this filmmaker remains widely available'.

Impact 3: Network-building — the German Screen Studies Network

Carter's arrival at King's has allowed the UoA to maximise its influence as an opinion leader and reception platform for German-language film. The key focus has been the German Screen Studies Network (GSSN), a forum for informed comment and German-language film promotion amongst educators, film professionals, and the interested public. The network, launched in partnership with the Goethe-Institut, is currently financed by the German Department and seven HEI partners. 2012-13 activities to build the network included discussions with and/or presentations to the Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft, Deutsches Institut für Film, Goethe-Institut, Austrian Cultural Forum, German Embassy, Oxford German Network, and the Leeds-based German Film Learning Initiative (; two postgraduate workshops; and website development ( Activities culminated in `The Return of the Real,' a three-month Goethe-Institut film season, and a July 2013 symposium with 50 attendees including cultural officials, industry practitioners, US/UK academics, students, and lay participants. Of the 38% of participants who returned feedback questionnaires, 89% reported `enhanced' knowledge and understanding as a result of the event; 79% were more likely to engage in future with German-language film; and 68% offered help co-organising future events (questionnaires available on request). According to the Goethe-Institut: `From our point of view public screenings at the Goethe-Institut with films from the Goethe-Institut Film Archive that related to the symposium theme provided an ideal opportunity to place our archive films into a specific context and to possibly find a wider audience for them'. The German Embassy Deputy Head of Culture and Education, Dr Susanne Frane, has pledged future support (email, 11.10.13); and current discussions with the Goethe-Institut and network members on follow-up events at Leeds (2014) and Cambridge (2015) confirm the GSSN's success as a long-term, strategically focussed project to consolidate not only Brady and Carter's impact activities, but German film-related initiatives nationally, and in so doing, to build a sustainable `third machine' for German-language film.

Sources to corroborate the impact

5.1: Audience figures and box office from BFI Statistical Yearbook 2010 - 2013:

5.2: Exit polls for Amour (2012), Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011), and The Counterfeiters (2007)


5.4. The German Culture Ministry funds festivals and symposia on grounds that they `secure' sustainability for German film: see Culture Minister Bernd Naumann, 2013:

5.5 Carter discusses Metz's `third machine' concept in `The New Woman and the Ekphrastic Poetics of Béla Balázs,' Screen, forthcoming 2014.

5.6: UoA Public Engagement

5.7. Die Macht der Gefühle and Serpentine Gallery Programme DVD and accompanying booklet, Edition Filmmuseum 26, 2007 (2 editions).

5.8. Brady interpreting on Front Row:

5.9 Brady on London Film Festiival vodcast:

5.10 Brady, Schleinzer and Glawogger at BFI:

5.11 Nestler retrospective:; Afterall article:

5.12 Individual contacts:

-Deputy Head of Culture and Education, German Embassy, London (impact of GSSN symposium)

-PI, German Film Learning (impact on classroom education)

Factual statements:

-Film Officer, Goethe-Institut London (impact of Brady and Carter's research-based activity on Goethe-Institut and its programming)

-Curator, Public Programmes, BFI (Carter's Herzog article leading to invitation to speak at BFI)