Günter Peter Straschek (1942-2009) was one of the first to research German exile cinema and is still widely regarded as one of the great pioneers in this field. As part of its “Here and Now” series, the Museum Ludwig has dedicate an exhibition to Straschek based on the extraordinary and now largely forgotten WDR documentary “Film Emigration from Nazi Germany” (1975). The documentary film (229 min.) presents the life stories of some one thousand film artists – directors, producers, camera operators, cutters, actors, scriptwriters, critics and film historians – who went into exile during the years of National Socialism. Straschek demonstrates an exemplary capacity for portraying the interviewees and discussing flight, exile and assimilation. His choice of aesthetic means far exceeds the economic constraints of television and reflects the influence of the filmmakers Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub.
In addition to presenting the film, the Museum Ludwig has also featured materials from Straschek’s archive. The exhibition showed the extent of his research endeavours and the precision with which his private archive was created in lack of support from state agencies.
The exhibition was accompanied by a film programme at the Filmforum NRW featuring Straschek‘s early films, his working environment at the German Film and Television Academy (DFFB) in Berlin (Hartmut Bitomsky, Harun Farocki, Helke Sander) and films by exiled filmmakers. Based on these films, the exhibition has portrayed the impact of avant-garde filmmaking on contemporary art. The project contained diverse references to the collection at the Museum Ludwig which owns numerous classical modernist works by artists who went into exile or suffered persecution in Germany. The accompanying catalogue offers a detailed look at Straschek’s filmmaking and journalistic activities.
Artist: Günter Peter Straschek