Mad Love: Re-Membering Berlin in Hollywood Exile

Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


In his book An Accented Cinema, Hamid Naficy has offered the most rigorous attempt to date to understand certain cinematic practices as expressions of exile and cultural displacement. According to Naficy, accented films—films that are produced under the condition of forced or voluntary dislocation—"are interstitial because they are created astride and in the interstices of social formations and cinematic practices. Consequently, they are simultaneously local and global, and they resonate against the prevailing cinematic production practices, at the same time that they benefit from them."1 Exilic filmmaking, in Naficy’s view, cannot but operate in critical distance to mainstream cinema. Exile cinemas explore their own smallness and imperfection, their lack of shine, their artisanal status, as a source of creative authenticity and critical meaning. They defy genre formulas and cinematic realism in order to utilize the filmic medium as a mouthpiece for personal narratives of loss, nostalgia, transition, and reconfiguration. In conflict with mass cultural norms of narrative closure and resolution, exile filmmakers tell ruptured and often highly subjective stories. Their films are film-letters and letter-films, addressed to often very narrowly defined audiences. These films’ narrative energies and formal designs communicate a sense of claustrophobia and shattered temporality, of contorted space and warped time.


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© Sabine Eckmann and Lutz Koepnick 2007

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