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Jewish filmmakers inspire New German Cinema within the discursive landscape of the German “Heimat”


Anti-Heimat Cinema: The Jewish Invention of the German Landscape studies an overlooked yet fundamental element of German popular culture in the twentieth century. In tracing Jewish filmmakers’ contemplations of “Heimat”—a provincial German landscape associated with belonging and authenticity—it analyzes their distinctive contribution to the German identity discourse between 1918 and 1968. In its emphasis on rootedness and homogeneity Heimat seemed to challenge the validity and significance of Jewish emancipation. Several acculturation-seeking Jewish artists and intellectuals, however, endeavored to conceive a notion of Heimat that would rather substantiate their belonging.
This book considers Jewish filmmakers’ contribution to this endeavor. It shows how they devised the landscapes of the German “Homeland” as Jews, namely, as acculturated “outsiders within.” Through appropriation of generic Heimat imagery, the films discussed in the book integrate criticism of national chauvinism into German mainstream culture from World War I to the Cold War. Consequently, these Jewish filmmakers anticipated the anti-Heimat film of the ensuing decades, and functioned as an uncredited inspiration for the critical New German Cinema.

Ofer Ashkenazi is Associate Professor of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Anti-Heimat Cinema presents a solid, interesting, and convincing contribution to one of the most central and fundamental scholarly discussions in German Studies: the place of German Jewish culture within German culture. It makes an important contribution to German film history and the history of the Anti-Heimat genre.”
—Todd Herzog, University of Cincinnati

- Todd Herzog

"... Ofer Ashkenazi’s analysis of Jewish contributions to German Heimat culture adds plenty of new insights and complications... As such, Ashkenazi’s research is a timely reminder of how long-proclaimed truths can require re-examination, and presumed absences can invite a closer look." - Germany History 

- Germany History

"...Ashkenazi makes a significant contribution to the scholarship on German Jewish filmmakers. He is particularly good at arguing how earlier and later films each interact with and rewrite one another, especially when seen from his study’s larger perspective—the insistently recurring cinematic portrayals of German Heimat."

- Monatshefte

"[Anti-Heimat Cinema] seeks to fill a lacuna in the film historical research and writing on German cinema: that of the role Jewish-German filmmakers have played in the formation of a German cinematic language, and specifically the genre of Heimatfilm, from the early days of cinema to the Cold War period. Indeed, this book is an important step toward a more detailed exploration of the impact German-Jewish filmmakers had not just in Weimar cinema but well beyond. It also serves as an invitation to extend these explorations – whether it be to additional filmmakers and periods or to further reception histories and contexts."
New Review of Film and Television Studies

- Kajsa Philippa Niehusen