Cinematic Discourses of Deprivation
Analyzing the Representation of Precarity and Exclusion in European Fiction Film and Documentary

Emmy Noether Research Group at Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF

The aim of this project is to analyse how European films have portrayed phenomena of deprivation. It investigates cinematic discourses on economic precarity and social exclusion since the 1990s. At the broadest level, the project examines the way the poor are depicted and the kind of iconography used to characterize them. Moreover, it asks what kinds of narration and discourse are being deployed to unfold the problems. The project centres on the filmic representation of phenomena which, even though not always on the public agenda, are part of everyday life all over Europe: the so-called working poor, the jobless or homeless, youth and old-age poverty, gender-specific insecurity (e.g. single motherhood, gender pay gap), social exclusion of (illegal) migrants and refugees, and so forth. The project is, however, less concerned with a comparison of filmic and extra-filmic realities than with the specific modalities or devices of filmic discourses. It aims at showing how cinema constructs deprivation in contemporary societies and, in doing so, how it engenders sympathy, empathy or even indifference for fictional characters and real persons.

Team

Guido Kirsten

Principal Investigator
g.kirsten(at)filmuniversitaet.de

Dr Guido Kirsten is the PI of the Emmy Noether research group “Cinematic Discourses of Deprivation: Analysing the Representation of Precarity and Exclusion in European Fiction Film and Documentary” at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF (Potsdam). Among his research topics are questions of representation and audio-visual discourse and narration, questions of proximity and distance in the cinema, and the history of film and film theory. He is the author of Filmischer Realismus (2013) and co-editor of Christian Metz and the Codes of Cinema: Film Semiology and Beyond (Amsterdam University Press 2018; together with Margrit Tröhler). Since 2007 he has been an editor of the film and television studies journal Montage AV, for which he co-edited issues on André Bazin (2009), the sociology of film in French filmology (2010), film and politics (2014), Roland Barthes’ film related writings (2015), new film distribution (streaming and BitTorrent; 2017), and questions of proximity and distance (2019).

 

Elisa Cuter

Research Associate and Ph.D. Candidate
e.cuter(at)filmuniversitaet.de

Elisa Cuter (born 1987 in Brescia, Italy) studied Philosophy at Università degli Studi di Torino (Bachelor) and Film Studies at the Free University Berlin (Master). During her studies, she worked at the archive of the Film Museum in Turin and as a film critic for several magazines in Italy and Germany. For the Film Festivals Cinema Lavoro Migrazioni. Carbonia Film FestivalLovers Filmfestival LGBTQI Turin Visions and the Berlin Feminist Film Week she works respectively as an assistant to the artistic direction, curator of scientific panels and member of the selection committee. She is part of the editorial board of the Associazione Italiana per le Ricerche di Storia del Cinema. Since September 2018 she is editor in chief of the section for politics and society of the online magazine Il Tascabile – edited by Treccani Institute. Her contributions have been published in peer-reviewed journals and collective volumes. Her research in the project concerns documentaries (produced since the spread of the financial crisis in 2008) focusing on migrants and/or on the newly-impoverished middle class.

 

Hanna Prenzel

Research Associate and Ph.D. Candidate
h.prenzel(at)filmuniversitaet.de

Hanna Prenzel studied Art, Arts and Media Administration (M.A.), Art history in a global context (M.A.) and Documentary filmmaking in Berlin, Rennes/France and Osnabrück. Her work links theory and practice: In 2017, she completed her master’s degree at the Freie Universität Berlin with a thesis on documentary films dealing with (post-)colonial family histories in Germany. In the same year, she founded the TINT Filmkollektiv together with other women*filmmakers and worked as a freelance documentary filmmaker, media educator and film lecturer. In 2018/19 she attended the training programme “Social Justice and Diversity Training” at the University of Applied Arts Potsdam. In the research project “Cinematic Discourses of Deprivation: Analysing the Representation of Precarity and Exclusion in European Fiction Film and Documentary” she deals with classism in documentary films focusing rent policy.

 

Josefine Knuth-Pollok

Research Assistant

Josefine Knuth-Pollok studied German Language and Art, Music and Theatre at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (2013-2017). During her B.A., she focused on the areas of modern German literature and theatre studies as well as related film and media analysis practices. She is currently studying for a M.A. degree in Film Heritage at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF (Potsdam). Since 2018 she is working as a research assistant in the Emmy Noether research group “Cinematic Discourses of Deprivation: Analyzing the Representation of Precarity and Exclusion in European Fiction Film and Documentary” at the Film University.

 

Alexandra Miljkovic

Research Assistant

Aleksandra Miljkovic studied Art history at the Philosophical Faculty in Belgrade, Serbia. At the same faculty, she completed her master’s degree with a focus on contemporary art and film. After graduating, she moved to Berlin. She was involved in several special exhibitions of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Serbia and the Museum of Yugoslav History. Her journalistic texts were published both in the magazine of the Yugoslav Film Archive and in the German newspapers der Freitag and Junge Welt. She is currently studying for a M.A. degree in Film Culture Heritage at the Film University.

 

Events

Publications

Guido Kirsten: Armut und Alltag. Zur Darstellung proletarischer und subproletarischer Lebensrealität im Kino der Weimarer Republik. In: Vrääth Öhner & Lena Stölzl (Hg.) Sichtbar machen. Politiken des Dokumentarfilms. Berlin: Vorwerk 8, 2018, S. 208–222.

Guido Kirsten: Über Pimpare, Stephen: Ghettos, Tramps, and Welfare Queens Down and Out on the Silver Screen. New York 2017. In: H-Soz-Kult Februrary 26, 2018.