Voices Outside the Frame: The Berlin School in Recent German Cinema

Cornerhouse is pleased to present a selection of films from this Goethe Institut (London) season that explores the ‘Berlin School’, a group of filmmakers linked by geography, a loose network or simply friendships, and who above all share certain stylistic characteristics and thematic concerns.

About the ‘Berlin School’

German cinema is back on the map, but its geography is not a simple one, and hence the attempts at naming its locations by defining groups and schools. The group sometimes referred to as the ‘Berlin School’ are a loose network of directors, friends or past collaborators, all based in Berlin, whose films share certain stylistic characteristics and thematic concerns. There is a restrained observant quality to many of the films; dialogues are spare, music rare; takes are often long, frames artfully composed. There is a tendency to show rather than to tell and to activate the viewer to watch and listen carefully and to fill in gaps. Though often described as ‘realist’, direct references to social and polticial issues are rare; the films are instead finely-nuanced representations of life in contemporary Germany, particularly of middle-class families, and teenagers during their difficult transition into adulthood.

The first generation of the Berlin school is represented by Thomas Arslan (Dealer, A Fine Day), Christian Petzold (Wolfsburg, Ghosts) and Angela Schanelec (Passing Summer, Marseille) who went to the Berlin Film and Television Academy (dffb), started their careers in the 90s and have made a number of films to date. They have been joined by a younger group of filmmakers who gravitated towards Berlin from other cities and film schools in Munich (Christoph Hochhäusler, Benjamin Heisenberg), Vienna (Valeska Grisebach) and Hamburg (Henner Winckler, Ulrich Köhler) and of whom most have completed two feature films in the past five to six years. In the film magazine Revolver co-founded and edited by Hochhäusler and Heisenberg, this group of filmmakers has an important platform for sharing know-how and ideas with each other and the audience.

Previously in this season

Der schöne Tag

24 hours in the life of a young Turkish actress who lives in Berlin

Read more

Sommer ’04 an der Schlei

A modern, liberal family's summer sailing holiday is disrupted by a stranger, unleashing dangerous currents of sexuality and forbidden desire.

Read more


A French woman keeps on returning to Berlin in the hope of finding her missing daughter. There she meets mousy teenager Nina and her drifter…

Read more


Powerful and sensitive relationship drama. Happilly married Markus unexpectantly finds himself in love with two women.

Read more