date festival

TRIBUTES AND RETROSPECTIVES

Christian Petzold

In attendance

Since the end of the 1990s, Christian Petzold has established himself as the most important German director to emerge after the fall of the Wall. His work is impressive in its attempts to embrace the issues of contemporary Germany and to question the legacy of reunification. He collaborated on his screenplays with experimental documentary filmmaker Harun Farocki until the latter’s death in 2014.


Not afraid of pure fiction, and enjoying playing on detective, romantic and even horrific references, Petzold began his career with several films directly rooted in a certain type of everyday life. Die innere Sicherheit (The State I Am In), his first feature film, which the Festival Premiers Plans screened in official competition in 2001, evokes the traces of extreme left-wing terrorism; Yella, in 2007, tackles contemporary capitalism as a mirage, and Jerichow the role of money in the story of a love trio.


Actress Nina Hoss became the face of his films and their collaboration is compared to that of Fassbinder and Hanna Schygulla. She is the force behind Barbara in 2012 and Phoenix in 2014. With these two films, Christian Petzold began to gain public recognition as his cinema took a more historical turn. He then explored going back in time, returning to the traumatic origins of his country (the communist bloc in the first; the post-war period in the second). Claude Chabrol is a reference for him (his film Wolfsburg is an adaptation of the novel at the origins of Que la bête meure (This Man Must Die)) and like Chabrol, he tries to question the contemporary through narrative plot and an acute knowledge of the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock. Transit (2018) further extends his research with a singular adaptation of a 1940 novel by Anna Seghers. Georg, the central character, transits through Marseilles with the aim of going to the United States while Nazi troops are advancing into French territory. The wild originality of the film is to have transposed the story into the contemporary world without going through a historical re-enactment. Finally, Undine (2020), which won two prizes at the last Berlin Film Festival, is a variation on the myth and a new way of renewing his cinema by taking it on the path of the dream.


Twenty years after the screening of his first feature at the Festival, and more than seven films later, the time has come for Christian Petzold to come and meet the audiences at Premiers Plans.



Pilotinnen Germany 1995 1h12
Die innere Sicherheit Germany / Portugal 2000 1h46
Toter Mann Germany 2001 1h30
Wolfsburg Germany 2003 1h30
Gespenster Germany / France 2005 1h25
Yella Germany 2007 1h29
Jerichow Germany 2008 1h33
Barbara Germany 2012 1h45
Barbara Germany 2012 1h45
Phoenix Germany / Poland 2014 1h38
Transit Germany / France 2018 1h41
Undine Germany / France 2020 1h30


Undine Phoenix © Christian Schulz