Anthology Film Archives

THE FILMS OF DOMINIK GRAF

May 24 – June 2

Dominik Graf is – internationally speaking – the least known master of modern German-language cinema, most probably because the vast majority of his massive and varied oeuvre was produced for television. Over the course of his career Graf has directed almost 80 works of various lengths and genres – feature films, TV movies, episodes for various series, as well as contributions to omnibus films – of which only ten were made for theatrical release. Among the theatrical films, only THE CAT (1987) was a major success with critics and audiences alike, while his made-for-TV works consistently win him awards and attract extraordinary ratings.

Graf’s contributions to long-running German TV series like “Tatort” (2017’s THE RED SHADOW) and “Polizeiruf 110” (2014’s SMOKE ON THE WATER), as well as television films like COLD SPRING (2004), THE VOW (2007) or TWILIGHT ETERNAL (2016), not only redefined their genres but invariably broke new ground in terms of aesthetics as well as content. Of equal importance is Graf’s role as arguably the most alert and provocative chronicler of West German (FRG) history: THE INVINCIBLES (1994) was already, in its original version, one of the most bitter essays on the FRG’s existential malaise, but in its brand-new Extended Version (2019) it has become an all-out condemnation of a nation at war with itself; while CITY FOR RANSOM (2006) represents a blistering exposé of what the FRG did to and with the one-time-GDR and its citizens.

Graf’s works are unlike anything else in the cinematic landscape: they’re films that simultaneously dare to be genre fodder, disturbing probes into the darker recesses of the human soul, devastating denunciations of German life and politics, and journeys to the outer bounds of storytelling, as well as experiments with the materials of cinema/television itself. Anthology is overjoyed to present the first extensive retrospective devoted to Graf’s body of work to take place in the United States.

“Graf is a genre filmmaker and a consummate, busy worker – both rare positions in contemporary cinema, one more than the other and together a very special thing. His prolificness and the industry in which it is enabled and embedded understandably creates a strong sense of continuity between the director’s work that only someone working so often and with a vivid, continued interest in the tools of the craft and what is before the camera can create. I am reminded of Wellman and Walsh in the early 1930s, Allan Dwan in the 1950s, Kôji Wakamatsu in the 60s and 70s, contemporary Johnnie To, and Takashi Miike at any point in his career; filmmakers from whom you never know what to expect next, and the ‘next’ just keeps on coming. In Graf’s work, there is an especially strong sense that each episode or film is part of a larger artistic project of cultural tapestry, a consistent continuation, revision, re-fitting, and re-evaluation of the world in which the films are made, and the conventions through which their stories are told. […] This sense of a continuous process, of films being always a part of and never a contained whole, is an essential facet of what makes Graf’s cinema exciting. Every work is an experiment in something, pushing what came behind it further in a new direction.” –Daniel Kasman, MUBI

“The Films of Dominik Graf” is guest-curated by Olaf Möller, in consultation with Dominik Graf. Möller is also responsible for the introduction and individual film descriptions, and will be here in person throughout the opening weekend (May 24-26)!

This retrospective is co-presented by the Goethe-Institut New York, and organized with generous support from German Films. It is taking place in partnership with the Quad Cinema, which will present a related series devoted to German genre cinema of the 1970s & 80s, inspired by (and including) Graf’s two recent documentaries on the topic, DOOMED LOVE: A JOURNEY THROUGH GERMAN GENRE FILM (2016) and its sequel OPEN WOUNDS (2017). For more info visit: https://quadcinema.com/

Special thanks to Dominik Graf; Olaf Möller; Sara Stevenson (Goethe-Institut New York); Simone Baumann, Nicole Kaufmann, Mariette Rissenbeek & Sabrina Schrödl (German Films); C. Mason Wells & Gavin Smith (Quad Cinema); Cornelia Ackers (Bayerischer Rundfunk); BrianneBonney (Bavaria Media); Robert de Rek (Rotterdam International Film Festival); Alexandra Dexheimer & Janine Göllner (ZDF); Julia Eggerder & Kathleen Georgi (Sommerhaus Filmproduktion); Jörg Friess & Stephan Ahrens (Zeughauskino); Kerstin Gruenwald, Nadine von Mallinckrodt & Claudia Rudolph-Hartmann (Global Screen); Lars Hansen & Sven Rudat (Leitwolf TV- und Filmproduktion); Christoph Huber; Thomas Ochs & Andreas Thein (Filmmuseum Düsseldorf); and Tanja Schmidbauer (Wiedemann & Berg Film).

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