Test Your Knowledge of German Cinema



9 Questions

What was the first standalone, dedicated cinema in Germany?

Which film genre was associated with the Weimar Republic cinema and inspired by the expressionist movement in art?

What was the name of the sound-on-film system invented in Germany in 1918?

Which film marked the beginning of the talkie era in Germany and made Marlene Dietrich an international superstar?

Which film genre was the defining genre of the 1940s and 1950s in Germany?

Which group of young filmmakers rejected the existing German film industry and aimed to build a new cinema founded on artistic and social measures?

What was the name of the manifesto that marked the beginning of the New German Cinema movement?

Which film festival is one of the world's leading film festivals and most reputable media events?

What is the name of the main production incentive provided by governmental authorities in Germany?


The History of German Cinema

  • German cinema can be traced back to the late 19th century, with Max Skladanowsky and his brother Emil demonstrating their self-invented film projector, the Bioscop, in 1895.

  • Trivial short films were initially shown as fairground attractions aimed at the working class and lower-middle class. However, filmmakers with an artistic bent started producing longer films based on literary models from around 1910.

  • Cinemas themselves began to be established landmarks in the years immediately before World War I, with the earliest standalone, dedicated cinema in Germany opening in Mannheim in 1906.

  • Prior to 1914, many foreign films were imported, and Danish and Italian films were particularly popular in Germany.

  • During the Weimar Republic era, an average of 250 films were produced each year, with around 230 film companies active in Berlin alone.

  • The German film industry enjoyed an unprecedented development during this period, attracting producers and directors from all over Europe.

  • German Expressionism was one of the main film genres associated with the Weimar Republic cinema, inspired by the expressionist movement in art.

  • The New Objectivity (die neue Sachlichkeit) genre began to take the place of expressionism, influenced by new issues which were occupying the public in those years.

  • Social and political films dared to confront sensitive and controversial social issues which engaged the public in those days, such as anti-Semitism, prostitution, and homosexuality.

  • The polarised politics of the Weimar period were also reflected in some of its films, with a series of patriotic films about Prussian history being produced throughout the 1920s.

  • Another important film genre of the Weimar years was the Kammerspiel or "chamber drama", which was borrowed from the theater and developed by stage director Max Reinhardt.

  • Animators and directors of experimental films such as Lotte Reiniger, Oskar Fischinger, and Walter Ruttmann were also very active in Germany in the 1920s.

  • The arrival of sound at the very end of the Weimar period marked the end of the silent era and the transition to sound film.The History of German Cinema

  • The Tri-Ergon sound-on-film system was invented in 1918, but sound production and distribution were only adopted by the German film industry in the late 1920s, with Germany having 3,800 cinemas equipped to play sound films by 1932.

  • The Blue Angel (1930), directed by Josef von Sternberg and produced by Erich Pommer, was Germany's first "talkie" and made Marlene Dietrich an international superstar.

  • The Nazi regime controlled the German film industry after 1933, and all films made had to be in accord with the views of the ruling regime. Some anti-Semitic propaganda works were produced, but most films were intended as works of entertainment.

  • The East German film industry was established in the Soviet occupation zone after World War II and was subject to strict controls imposed by the authorities, which restricted the subject matter of films to topics that directly contributed to the Communist project of the state.

  • DEFA was founded on 17 May 1946, and took control of the film production facilities in the Soviet Zone which had been confiscated by order of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany in October 1945.

  • DEFA produced some 900 feature films during its existence, as well as around 800 animated films and over 3000 documentaries and short films. Production was limited due to the strict controls imposed by the authorities.

  • In the late 1970s, numerous filmmakers left the GDR for the West due to restrictions on their work, among them director Egon Günther and actors Angelica Domröse, Eva-Maria Hagen, Katharina Thalbach, Hilmar Thate, Manfred Krug, and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

  • The occupation and reconstruction of Germany by the Four Powers in the period immediately after the end of World War II brought a major and long-lasting change to the economic conditions under which the industry in Germany had previously operated.

  • The share of the film market for German films in the post-war period and into the 1950s remained relatively large, taking up some 40 percent of the total market.

  • Many of the German films of the immediate post-war period can be characterised as belonging to the genre of the Trümmerfilm (literally "rubble film").

  • The Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962 marked the beginning of the New German Cinema movement, which sought to distance itself from the entertainment-oriented mainstream German cinema and instead focus on artistry and the personal vision of the director.

  • The New German Cinema movement was characterised by a focus on political and social issues, as well as formal experimentation and a rejection of traditional narrative structures.

  • Some of the most notable filmmakers associated with the New German Cinema movement include Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, and Volker Schlöndorff.A Brief History of German Cinema

  • The 1940s and 1950s were characterized by a growing cinema attendance, with the Heimatfilm being the defining genre of the period.

  • The 1950s saw the rise of war films that depicted ordinary German soldiers of World War II as brave and apolitical.

  • The 1960s were a period of crisis in German cinema, with cinema attendance plummeting due to the rise of alternative leisure activities and the popularity of television.

  • The majority of films produced in the 1960s were genre works, such as westerns, thrillers, and crime films.

  • The 1960s also saw the emergence of the New German Cinema, a group of young filmmakers who rejected the existing German film industry and aimed to build a new cinema founded on artistic and social measures.

  • The New German Cinema was dependent on money from television but found it difficult to attract a large domestic or international audience.

  • The socially critical films of the New German Cinema dealt with contemporary German social problems and were influenced by Italian neorealism, the French Nouvelle Vague, and the British New Wave.

  • The 1980s saw the commercial success of German films such as the Otto film series, The NeverEnding Story, and Das Boot.

  • The New German Cinema allowed for the development of a feminist cinema, with female directors coming to the fore.

  • German production companies were commonly involved in expensive French and Italian productions from Spaghetti Westerns to French comic book adaptations.

  • The international significance of the West German film industry of the 1950s could no longer measure up to that of France, Italy, or Japan.

  • German films were rarely distributed internationally and were perceived as provincial.A Brief History of German Cinema

  • The 1970s saw the development of arthouse cinemas (Programmkinos) which provided a venue for the works of less mainstream film-makers.

  • From the mid-1980s, the spread of videocassette recorders and the arrival of private TV channels such as RTL Television provided new competition for theatrical film distribution.

  • Today's biggest German production studios include Babelsberg Studio, Bavaria Film, Constantin Film and UFA.

  • The collapse of the GDR had a large effect on the German cinema industry. The viewer count increased with the new population's access to western movies.

  • Internationally, German productions are widely unknown and unsuccessful. Even domestically, the German movies hold only a market share of about 20–25%.

  • The main production incentive provided by governmental authorities is the Deutscher Filmförderfonds (DFFF) (German Federal Film Fund).

  • In 1979, the German states also began to establish funding institutions, often with the intention of supporting their own production locations.

  • Film funding in Germany is provided, among others, by the following institutions: Federal, Regional, and Festival.

  • The Berlin International Film Festival, also called Berlinale, is one of the world's leading film festivals and most reputable media events.

  • The Deutsche Filmakademie was founded in 2003 in Berlin and aims to provide native filmmakers a forum for discussion and a way to promote the reputation of German cinema through publications and presentations.

  • Since 2005, the winners of the Deutscher Filmpreis, also known as the Lolas, are elected by the members of the Deutsche Filmakademie.

  • Several institutions, both government run and private, provide formal education in various aspects of filmmaking.


How much do you know about the history of German cinema? Test your knowledge with our quiz that covers everything from the early beginnings of German cinema in the late 19th century to the emergence of the New German Cinema movement in the 1960s, and the present day. Discover the most notable filmmakers and genres associated with German cinema, as well as the industry's challenges and successes over the years. Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn more about this fascinating aspect of German culture!

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