Asian German Filmography: A Teaching Guide

Last updated on May 23, 2024

As a rising field within Germanistik, Asian German Studies has been a hotspot for recent scholarship on postcolonialism, orientalism, gender and sexuality studies, area studies, migration studies, and more. Asian German films, along with literature, television series, and new media, have increasingly become desirable teaching materials for courses that explore transnational aspects of German culture, history, and society. This concise Asian German filmography, compiled by Qingyang Freya Zhou (UC Berkeley), Zach Ramon Fitzpatrick (U of Wisconsin-Madison), and Qinna Shen (Bryn Mawr College), aims to provide a teaching guide not only to Germanists, but also to scholars in neighboring academic disciplines. For those who are interested, a longer list of Asian German films can be accessed here.

This filmography includes fifty critically acclaimed, aesthetically creative, and/or thematically interesting Asian German films produced by filmmakers in both the larger German-speaking world and in Asia, focusing mainly on East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. We prioritize films that are available on VHS, DVD, and online streaming platforms. The list is organized geographically and chronologically. The countries represented are listed in descending order based on the size of the corresponding immigrant groups in Germany (see the figure below for exact numbers). Each entry includes both a short description that highlights unique features of the film and selected works of secondary literature—listed chronologically—that may be assigned as course readings. When scholarly literature is not available, we opt for journalistic articles, interviews, and blog posts, with the intention of inviting more further research.

The authors acknowledge that classifying transnational films by country could be problematic. Indeed, some of the films listed complicate this practice. For example, Der schweigende Stern has Asian characters with three different nationalities; Drachenfutter has both Pakistani and Chinese characters; and the titular character from Tschick is a multiracial Russian national but “looks Mongolian” and is played by an actor of Mongolian descent. Nevertheless, we eventually decided to keep national categories for two reasons. First, such a practice will provide clearer reference for instructors who want to quickly search for the specific materials for their courses. Second, listing the films based on the countries referenced reveals some underlying patterns in Asian German film production. For instance, the relatively small number of Japanese immigrants in Germany and the comparatively large number of Japan-themed films can reveal both a specific form of orientalism at play in the history of the German film industry and contemporary processes of Japanese-German film distribution and exhibition, which aim more for an international audience than for a domestic ethnic audience. By contrast, the considerable sizes of Indian, Pakistani, Thai, Filipino, and Sri Lankan immigrants in Germany and the relative dearth of accessible films that portray these groups might suggest continued marginalization against some South Asians and Southeast Asians.

The list is intended to serve as an introduction to a rich and diverse repertoire of films that focus on histories of entanglement, contact zones, processes of exchange, modes of translation, and moments of physical and symbolic border crossings. The authors will periodically update this teaching guide to reflect new productions and secondary literature. A longer list of Asian German films, which includes lesser-known titles and lost films, is available here. For suggestions and comments on this teaching guide or the longer filmography, please contact Qingyang Freya Zhou (qingyangzhou@berkeley.edu).

The three editors have also been working on the anthology Charting Asian German Film History: Imagination, Collaboration, and Diasporic Representation (under contract with Camden House, forthcoming in 2025), with twelve exciting chapters that will add to the growing body of scholarship on Asian German film studies.


Source: https://www.bpb.de/apuz/antirassismus-2020/316771/antiasiatischer-rassismus-in-deutschland 


Vietnam

  • Geschwader Fledermaus (The Bat Squadron, Erich Engel, 1958), available on DVD; order from the DEFA Film Library
    • An early German feature film about the First Indochina War, featuring two Vietnamese actors. These characters speak in both undubbed German and in Vietnamese.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Wedel, Michael, Barton Byg, Andy Räder, Skyler Arndt-Briggs, and Evan Torner, eds. DEFA international: Grenzüberschreitende Filmbeziehungen vor und nach dem Mauerbau. Wiesbaden: Springer, 2013.
      2. Torner, Evan, and Victoria Rizo Lenshyn. “Imposed Dialogues: Joerg Foth and Tran Vu’s GDR-Vietnamese Coproduction, Dschungelzeit (1988).” In Comrades of Color: East Germany in the Cold War World, edited by Quinn Slobodian, 243-64. New York: Berghahn, 2015.
  • Bruderland ist abgebrannt (Brotherland Has Burned Down, Angelika Nguyen, 28 min, 1991), available on Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (bdp) and YouTube, and Sorge 87 (Thanh Nguyen Phuong, 10 min, 2018), available on Vimeo with English and German subtitles
    • The two documentary shorts by Vietnamese German women filmmakers Angelika Nguyen and Thanh Nguyen Phuong both illuminate the precarity that the Vietnamese contract laborers (Vertragsarbeiter) from the former GDR experienced immediately before and after reunification. The films provide context for structural racism and growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the new Berlin Republic, which later led to the 1992 pogrom in Rostock-Lichtenhagen.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Beth, Uta, and Anja Tuckermann. “Geschichte, Arbeit und Alltag vietnamesischer Migrant_innen.” In Asiatische Deutsche Extended. Vietnamesische Diaspora and Beyond, expanded new edition, edited by Kien Nghi Ha, 111–30. Berlin: Assoziation A, 2021.
      2. Nguyen, Angelika. “Mutter, wie weit ist Vietnam?” Heinrich Böll Stiftung. January 29, 2014. https://heimatkunde.boell.de/de/2014/01/29/mutter-wie-weit-ist-vietnam.
      3. Nguyen, Angelika. “Rassismus in Ostdeutschland: Über die AfD muss man sich nicht wundern.” Zeit Online. December 22, 2017. https://www.zeit.de/kultur/2017-12/rassismus-ostdeutschland-ddr-zionskirche.
  • Wir sind jung. Wir sind stark (We Are Young. We Are Strong, Burhan Qurbani, 2014), available on DVD with English subtitles
    • A feature film by the Afghan German director Burhan Qurbani about the worst right-wing violence since the Second World War against Vietnamese contract workers in Rostock-Lichtenhagen in August 1992. This film can offer a good introduction to contemporary German debates on migration, the social integration of immigrants, the rise of the far right and the AfD, and racial discrimination.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Fachinger, Petra. “Narratives of Transnational Divide: The Vietnamese in Contemporary German Literature and Film.” In Imagining Germany Imagining Asia: Essays in Asian-German Studies, edited by Veronika Fuechtner and Mary Rhiel, 50-63. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2013.
      2. Weissberg, Jay. “Film Review: ‘We Are Young. We Are Strong.’” Variety, January 22, 2015. https://variety.com/2015/film/festivals/film-review-we-are-young-we-are-strong-1201408057/.
      3. Adaire, Esther. “‘This Other Germany, the Dark One’: Post-Wall Memory Politics Surrounding the Neo-Nazi Riots in Rostock and Hoyerswerda.” German Politics and Society 37, no. 4 (2019): 43-57.

Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan

  • Die Herrin der Welt (The Mistress of the World, in 8 parts, Joe May, 1919/1920), available for onsite viewing at the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv in Berlin (except for part 3 and part 7)
    • Die Herrin der Welt is an eight-part Weimar classic with Joe May’s wife, Mia May, playing the heroine Maud Greegards. Though overshadowed by the protest of the Chinese student club in Berlin, May’s film was the first in German cinema to cast an amateur ethnic Chinese actor, Henry Sze, as one of the two male leads. This revolutionary casting decision, however, does not save the film from racist clichés typical of the era. We advocate preserving and restoring the film, given its historical and cinematic importance.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Lenssen, Claudia. “Rachedurst und Reisefieber. Die Herrin der Welt-ein Genrefilm.” In Joe May. Regisseur und Produzent, edited by Hans-Michael Bock and Claudia Lenssen, 31-44. Munich: edition text + kritik, 1991.
      2. Banks, Gaia Berkhead. “Cinema as Alternative Reality: The Kinorerlebnis and Joe May’s Die Herrin der Welt.” In Imagining the Other and Staging the Self: German National Identity and the Weimar Exotic Adventure Film (1918-1924), 141-88. PhD Dissertation, University of California, Irvine, 1996.
      3. Nagl, Tobias. “Louis Brody and the Black Presence in German Film Before 1945.” In Not So Plain as Black and White: Afro-German Culture and History, 1890-2000, edited by Patricia Mazon and Reinhild Steingröver, 109-35. Rochester, NY: Rochester University Press, 2005.
      4. Nagl, Tobias. “Kaiser Wilhelms Minen: Kolonialismus, Geschlecht und Rasse in Die Herrin der Welt (1919).” In Die unheimliche Maschine. Rasse und Repräsentation im Weimarer Kino, 41–153. Munich: edition text+kritik, 2009.
      5. Ashkenazi, Ofer. “Middle-Class Heroes: Anti-Nationalism in the Popular Adventure Films of the Weimar Republic.” In Weimar Culture Revisited, edited by John Alexander Williams, 73-97. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
      6. Nagl, Tobias. “March 1920: Chinese Students Raise Charges of Racism against Die Herrin der Welt.” In A New History of German Cinema, edited by Jennifer M. Kapczynski and Michael D. Richardson, 73-79.  Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2012.
      7. Nagl, Tobias. “Policing Race: Postcolonial Critique, Censorship and Regulatory Responses to the Cinema in Weimar Film Culture.” In The Emergence of Film Culture: Knowledge Production, Institution Building, and the Fate of the Avant-Garde in Europe, 1919–1945, edited by Malte Hagener, 21-45. New York: Berghahn, 2014.
      8. Brill, Olaf, and Jörg Schöning, eds. Meister des Weimarer Kinos. Joe May und das wandernde Bild. Munich: edition text + Kritik, 2018.
      9. Brandlmeier, Thomas. “Die Herrin der Welt und der ‘Herr der Welten.’ Joe May als Serien-Hersteller.” In Filmpionier und Mogul. Das Imperium des Joe May, edited by Hans-Michael Bock, Jan Distelmeyer, and Jörg Schöning, 29-38. Munich: edition text + kritik, 2019.
      10. Nagl, Tobias. “Entfreundet!: Asiatische Filmproteste in der Weimarer Republik.” In Asiatische Präsenzen in der Kolonialmetropole Berlin. Localizing Decolonialization—Dekolonialisierung lokalisieren, edited by Kien Nghi Ha, 49-61. Hamburg: Assoziation A, 2024.

  • Der müde Tod (Destiny, Fritz Lang, 1921), available on YouTube, iTunes, and Vudu
    • The third episode of Fritz Lang’s Expressionist fantasy takes place in Imperial China with yellowface costuming. This film can be used as a case study of German orientalism, expressionist cinema, and the transnational oeuvre of Fritz Lang.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Scherer, Frank F. “Ufa Orientalism: The ‘Orient’ in Early German Film: Lubitsch and May.” CINEJ Cinema Journal 1, no. 1 (2011): 89-98.
      2. Baer, Nicholas. “Metaphysics of Finitude: Der müde Tod and the Crisis of Historicism.” In A Companion to Fritz Lang, edited by Joe McElhaney, 141-160. Chichester, England: Wiley Blackwell, 2015.
      3. McGilligan, Patrick. Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
  • Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Lotte Reiniger, 1926), available on Amazon and the Criterion Channel
    • In Lotte Reiniger’s intriguing silhouette animation feature, Prince Achmed at first abducts the Mistress of the Wak-Wak island, Pari Banu, to China where the evil magician sells her to the Chinese Emperor, who in turn bestows her to his male lover. This Arabian Night story is interesting because of the oriental origin of shadow play, its pioneering technical innovation as well as the orientalist appropriation of Middle Eastern, African, and Chinese motifs.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Evans, Noell K. Wolfgram. “Lotte Reiniger: Shadowplayer.” In Animators of Film and Television: Nineteen Artists, Writers, Producers and Others, 111-118. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2011.
      2. Sterritt, David. “The Animated Adventures of Lotte Reiniger.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 37, no. 4 (2020): 398-401.
      3. Acadia, Lilith. “‘Lover of Shadows’: Lotte Reiniger’s Innovation, Orientalism, and Progressivism.” Oxford German Studies 50, no. 2 (2021): 150-68.
      4. Horan, Peter. “From Lotte Reiniger to Nguyễn Trinh Thi: Examining the Evolution of Non-Western Representation in Artists’ Film and Video.” Film Matters 12, no. 1 (2021): 17-28.
      5. Rada Bieberstein, ed. Beyond Prince Achmed: New Perspectives on Animation Pioneer Lotte Reiniger. Marburg: Schüren Verlag, 2022.
  • Großstadtschmetterling (Pavement Butterfly, Richard Eichberg, 1929), available on YouTube
    • The Chinese American star Anna May Wong moved from Hollywood to Europe in the late 1920s for lead roles in three films directed by Richard Eichberg. In Großstadtschmetterling, Wong plays Mah, a dancer who remains resilient in the face of much hardship. Compared to her other two German films with Eichberg, Großstadtschmetterling is a welcome change from the submissive and tragic role typical of the traditional Butterfly narratives. Thanks to efforts by Oliver Hanley and his colleagues, this Anna May Wong classic has been digitally restored by DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Wedel, Michael. Kolportage, Kitsch und Können. Das Kino des Richard Eichberg. Berlin: CineGraph Babelsberg, 2007.
      2. Walk, Cynthia. “Anna May Wong and Weimar Cinema: Orientalism in Postcolonial Germany.” In Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia, edited by Qinna Shen and Martin Rosenstock, 137-167. New York: Berghahn, 2014.
      3. Lim, Shirley Jennifer. “‘The Most Beautiful Chinese Girl in the World’: Anna May Wong’s Transnational Racial Modernity.” In Body and Nation: The Global Realm of U.S. Body Politics in the Twentieth Century, edited by Emily S. Rosenberg and Shanon Fitzpatrick, 109-24. Durham: Duke UP, 2014.
      4. “Anna May Wong – Star, Icon, Boundary Breaker.” Arsenal: Institut für Film und Videokunst. June 2018. https://www.arsenal-berlin.de/en/cinema/programm-archive/2018/film-series/anna-may-wong-star-icon-boundary-breaker/.
      5. “Großstadtschmetterling.” DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum. https://www.dff.film/besuch/ausstellungen/plakat-grossstadtschmetterling/.
  • Piccadilly (Ewald André Dupont, 1929), available on Facebook and Alexander Street (institutional subscription needed). The US DVD release version of Piccadilly contains useful extra features, including a panel discussion “Dangerous to Know: Anna May Wong’s Career and Legacy,” moderated by B. Ruby Rich.
    • Piccadilly is a silent film starring Anna May Wong that depicts an interracial relationship between Shosho and Valentin, who hires Shosho to dance in his nightclub Piccadilly. The film depicts Shosho as a classic femme fatale who seduces Valentine with her exotic Asian sexuality, and with her murder by her Chinese lover, the ultimate restoration of a social order for white Europeans.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Walk, Cynthia. “31 January 1929: Limits on Racial Border-Crossing Exposed in Piccadilly.” In A New History of German Cinema, edited by Jennifer M. Kapczynski and Michael D. Richardson, 185-89. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2012.
      2. Walk, Cynthia. “Anna May Wong and Weimar Cinema: Orientalism in Postcolonial Germany.” In Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia, edited by Qinna Shen and Martin Rosenstock, 137-67. New York: Berghahn, 2014.
      3. Lim, Shirley Jennifer. “‘The Most Beautiful Chinese Girl in the World’: Anna May Wong’s Transnational Racial Modernity.” In Body and Nation: The Global Realm of U.S. Body Politics in the Twentieth Century, edited by Emily S. Rosenberg and Shanon Fitzpatrick, 109-24. Durham: Duke UP, 2014.
      4. Cheng, Anne Anlin. “Gleaming Things.” In Ornamentalism, 61-85. New York: Oxford UP, 2019.
      5. “Anna May Wong – Star, Icon, Boundary Breaker.” Arsenal: Institut für Film und Videokunst. June 2018. https://www.arsenal-berlin.de/en/cinema/programm-archive/2018/film-series/anna-may-wong-star-icon-boundary-breaker/.
      6. Li, Yumin. “Shape Shifters: Racialized and Gendered Crossings in Piccadilly (1929) and Shanghai Express (1932).” Sexualities 23, no. 1–2 (2020): 170–200.
  • Lied der Ströme (Song of the Rivers, Joris Ivens, 1954), available on Vimeo, and Die Windrose (The Compass Rose, Joris Ivens, 1956), available on DVD (the bonus feature includes a 22-minute short film by Joachim Hadaschik, Joris Ivens: Er filmte auf fünf Kontinenten / Joris Ivens: He Filmed on Five Continents, 1963).
    • During the 1950s, East Germany’s state-sponsored film studio DEFA often collaborated with the GDR’s new “comrades of color,” as well as other socialist allies in Eastern Europe, to make so-called “anthology films” composed of short individual episodes on a common theme, each shot by local partners. Examples of such co-productions, supervised by Dutch documentarian Joris Ivens, include both Lied der Ströme, a film about the world workers’ movement, and the socialist feminist film Die Windrose. Each of the two films features a fifteen-minute short episode on China. After his collaboration with the DEFA ended, Ivens also made a 12-part documentary about the last days of the Cultural Revolution in China, titled Comment Yukong déplaça les montagnes (How Yukong Moved the Mountains, 1976), available on YouTube.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Musser, Charles. “Utopian Visions in Cold War Documentary: Paul Robeson, Joris Ivens and Song of the Rivers (1954).” In Cinémas. Revue d’études cinématographiques 12, no. 3 (2002–2003): 109–53.
      2. Shen, Qinna. “A Question of Ideology and Realpolitik: DEFA’s Cold War Documentaries on China.” In Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia, edited by Qinna Shen and Martin Rosenstock, 94-114. New York: Berghahn, 2014.
      3. Hodgin, Nick. “Alternative Realities and Authenticity in DEFA’s Documentary Films.” In DEFA at the Crossroads of East German and International Film Culture, edited by Marc Silberman and Henning Wrage, 281-303. Berlin: DeGruyter, 2014.
      4. Slobodian, Quinn. “The Uses of Disorientation: Socialist Cosmopolitanism in an Unfinished DEFA-China Documentary.” In Comrades of Color: East Germany in the Cold War World, edited by Quinn Slobodian, 219-42. New York: Berghahn, 2015.
      5. Slobodian, Quinn. “‘Wir sind Brüder, sagt der Film’: China im Dokumentarfilm der DDR und das Scheitern der politischen Metapher der Brüderlichkeit.” In Das Imaginäre des Kalten Krieges: Beiträge zu einer Kulturgeschichte des Ost-West-Konfliktes in Europa, edited by David Eugster and Sibylle Marti, 45–67. Essen: Klartext Verlag, 2015.
      6. Hodgin, Nick. “The Cosmopolitan Communist: Joris Ivens, Transnational Film-maker before Transnationalism?.” In Transnational Cinemas 7, no. 1 (2016): 34-49.
      7. Waugh, Thomas. The Conscience of Cinema: The Works of Joris Ivens 1912-1989. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016.
      8. Bonfiglioli, Chiara. “Cold War Gendered Imaginaries of Citizenship and Transnational Women’s Activism: The Case of the Movie Die Windrose (1957).” In Gender and Citizenship in Historical and Transnational Perspective, edited by Ann R. Epstein and Rachel G. Fuchs, 166–185. London: Palgrave McMillan, 2017.
      9. Kelly, Elaine. “Communist Nationalisms, Internationalisms, and Cosmopolitanisms: The Case of the German Democratic Republic.” In Confronting the National in the Musical Past, edited by Elaine Kelly, Markus Mantere, and Derek B. Scott, 78-90. London: Routledge, 2018.
      10. Djagalov, Rossen. “‘Brothers!’: Solidarity Documentary Film.” In From Internationalism to Postcolonialism: Literature and Cinema between the Second and the Third Worlds, 173-209. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2020.
      11. Zhou, Qingyang. “A Façade of Solidarity: East Germany’s Attempted Dialogue with China in The Compass Rose (Die Windrose, 1957). In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 123-45. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      12. Waugh, Thomas. “The Romantic Becomes Dialectic?: Joris Ivens, Cold Warrior and
        Socialist Realist, 1946–1956.” In A Companion to Documentary Film History, edited by Joshua Malitsky, 255-82. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2021.
  • Bis zum Ende aller Tage (Girl from Hong Kong, Franz Peter Wirth, 1961), available on DVD
    • This romance between a Hong Kong bar dancer and a German sailor is believed to be the first German film after World War II to depict both migration to Germany and racial discrimination. Taking place in both Hong Kong and in northern Germany, this transnational anti-racist melodrama is a relatively unknown gem for Asian German film studies, even predating later classics like Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Angst essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, 1974).
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. “Kino und Migration in der BRD.” filmportal. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://www.filmportal.de/thema/kino-und-migration-in-der-brd.
      2. Fitzpatrick, Zach Ramon. “The World(s) of Anna Suh: Race, Migration, and Ornamentalism in Bis zum Ende aller Tage (Until the End of Days, 1961).” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 146-75. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      3. The DVD version of the film contains a 24-page booklet with background information and the creators’ biographies.
  • Exil Shanghai (Exile Shanghai, Ulrike Ottinger, 1997), available on DVD; order from Ulrike Ottinger Filmproduktion
    • Exil Shanghai is a four-hour documentary—divided into two parts—featuring interviews with six Viennese, German, and Russian Jews who lived in Shanghai during the first half of the twentieth century. By juxtaposing Jewish émigrés’ oral accounts of exile with shots of contemporaneous Shanghai, Ottinger’s film is the most aesthetically interesting documentary made about this topic and can be used in courses on critical archive studies.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Harjes, Kirsten, and Tanja Nusser. “An Authentic Experience of History: Tourism in Ulrike Ottinger’s Exil Shanghai.” Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture 15 (2000): 247-63.
      2. Villarejo, Amy. “Archiving the Diaspora: A Lesbian Impression of/in Ulrike Ottinger’s Exile Shanghai.” New German Critique 87 (2002): 157-91.
      3. Meyer, Maisie J. From the Rivers of Babylon to the Whangpoo: A Century of Sephardi Jewish Life in Shanghai. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2003.
      4. Nusser, Tanja. “Ein Schiff wird kommen: Das Exil in Shanghai.” In Von und zu anderen Ufern: Ulrike Ottingers filmische Reiseerzählungen, 165-77. Köln: Böhlau, 2002.
      5. Meyer, Eva. “Ulrike Ottinger’s Chronicle of Time.” Afterall 16 (2007): 38-45.
      6. Hochstadt, Steve. Shanghai-Geschichten: Die jüdische Flucht nach China. Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2007.
      7. Rickels, Laurence A. “I Was There.” In Ulrike Ottinger: The Autobiography of Art Cinema, 150-65. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
      8. Hochstadt, Steve. Exodus to Shanghai: Stories of Escape from the Third Reich. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
      9. Roberts, Lee M. “Vestiges of ‘Yellow Peril’ Discourse in Interwar Europe and Its Impact on Shanghailanders.” In Germany and China: Transnational Encounters since the Eighteenth Century, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho and David M. Crowe, 195-210. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
      10. Ostoyich, Kevin. “‘Back on Straw’: The Experience of Shanghai Jewish Refugees in Bremen after Escaping German National Socialism, Enduring a Japanese ‘Designated Area’, and Fleeing Chinese Communism, July 1950 – February 1952.” Studia Historica Gedanensia, Tom 5 (2014): 113-38.
      11. Shambhavi, Prakash. “Representations of Jewish Exile and Models of Memory in Shanghai Ghetto and Exil Shanghai.” In Transnational encounters between Germany and East Asia since 1900, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 62-81. New York: Routledge, 2018.
      12. Ostoyich, Kevin. “The Unbroken Past: From Germany to Shanghai to San Francisco.” American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, November 20, 2019. https://www.aicgs.org/2019/11/the-unbroken-past-from-germany-to-shanghai-to-san-francisco/.
      13. Pscheiden, Daniela, and Danielle Spera, eds. Die Wiener in China: Fluchtpunkt Shanghai. Little Vienna in Shanghai. Vienna: Amalthea Verlag, 2020.
      14. Zhou, Qingyang Freya. “Archiving Memories in Pandemic Times: Documenting Jewish Exile in Shanghai.” Multicultural Germany Project, April 21, 2021, https://mgp.berkeley.edu/2021/04/21/documentaries-on-jewish-exile-in-shanghai/.
      15. Maier-Katkin, Birgit. “Documentaries about Jewish Exiles in Shanghai: Witness Testimony and Cross-Cultural Public Memory Formation.” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 100-20. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      16. Fetthauer, Sophie. “Demarcation and Cooperation: Nazi-Persecuted Jewish Cantors in Shanghai Exile, 1938-1949.” In Musical Entanglements between Germany and East Asia: Transnational Affinity in the 20th and 21st Centuries, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 151-72. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.
      17. Love, Thomas. “Temporal Displacement in Ulrike Ottinger’s Films.” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 97, no. 4 (2022): 310-23.
  • Losers and Winners: Arbeit gehört zum Leben (Losers and Winners: Work Is Just a Part of Life, Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken, 2006), available on Vimeo and Goethe Institut’s Onleihe
    • It is a documentary film that captures the dismantling process of a modern German coke factory in Dortmund by 400 Chinese workers, who will reassemble the entire factory in China. The film reflects on the concepts of Heimat and Fremde and can be used to discuss globalization and cultural stereotypes.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Shen, Qinna. “Factories on the Magic Carpet: Heimat, Globalization, and the ‘Yellow Peril’ in Die Chinesen kommen and Losers and Winners.” In Imagining Germany Imagining Asia: Essays in German Studies, edited by Veronika Feuchtner and Mary Rhiel, 64-86. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2013.
  • Ghosted (Monika Treut, 2009), available on DVD, Alexander Street (institutional subscription needed), and Kanopy
    • Part of a series of Taiwan-themed films made by queer German director Monika Treut, Ghosted explores East Asian lesbian sexuality and Buddhist-Taiwanese conceptions of spirituality through a meta-narrative on documentary filmmaking. It is suitable for courses on Asian/Buddhist conceptions of spectrality, screen dynamics, queer German cinema, and psychoanalysis.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Puar, Jasbir. “Circuits of Queer Mobility: Tourism, Travel, and Globalization.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 8, no. 1-2 (2002): 101-37.
      2. Davis, Colin. “État Présent: Hauntology, Spectres and Phantoms.” French Studies 59, no. 3 (2005): 373-79.
      3. Gunning, Tom. “To Scan a Ghost: The Ontology of Mediated Vision.” Grey Room, no. 26 (2007): 94-127.
      4. Freccero, Carla. “Queer Spectrality: Haunting the Past.” In A Companion to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies, edited by George E. Haggerty and Molly McGarry, 194-213. Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell, 2007.
      5. Kuzniar, Alice A. “Uncanny Doublings and Asian Rituals in Recent Films by Monika Treut, Doris Dörrie, and Ulrike Ottinger.” Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture 27 (2011): 176-99.
      6. Chen, Ya-chen. “Cinematic Visualization of Spiritual Lesbianism in Monika Treut’s Ghosted: Countering Essentialist Concerns about Li Ang’s Literary Works.” In New Modern Chinese Women and Gender Politics: The Centennial of the End of the Qing Dynasty, edited by Chen Ya-chen, 210-22. New York: Routledge, 2014.
      7. Dawson, Leanne, and Monika Treut. “Same, Same but Different: Filmmakers Are Hikers on the Globe and Create Globalization from Below.” Studies in European Cinema 11, no. 3 (2015): 155-69.
      8. Luciano, Dana, and Mel Y. Chen. “Introduction: Has the Queer Ever Been Human?” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 21, no. 2-3 (2015): 182-207.
      9. Chen, Ya-chen. “Queering Women in Taiwan.” American Journal of Chinese Studies 23, no. 2 (2016): 239-56.
      10. Schoonover, Karl, and Rosalind Galt. Queer Cinema in the World. Durham: Duke UP, 2016.
      11. Dawson, Leanne. “The Ghostly Queer Migrant: Queering Time, Place, and Family in Contemporary German Cinema.” In Queering the Migrant in Contemporary European Cinema, edited by James S. Williams, 33-46. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      12. Zhou, Qingyang Freya. “Queering the Screen: Spectral Figures and German-Taiwanese Encounters in Monika Treut’s Ghosted.Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 58, no. 3 (2022): 251-70.
      13. Schlipphacke, Heidi. “Lesbian Desire and the Jump Cut in Monika Treut’s Von Mädchen und Pferden.” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 97, no. 4 (2022): 359-74.

  • John Rabe (Florian Gallenberger, 2009), available on DVD
    • Based on John Rabe: Der gute Mensch von Nanking (The Good Man of Nanking: Diaries of John Rabe), the award-winning film features Rabe’s role in establishing the International Safety Zone for Civilians in Nanking during the Nanking Massacre. The film allows students to learn about the geopolitics between Germany, Japan and China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. 
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Shen, Qinna. “Revisiting the Wound of a Nation: The ‘Good Nazi’ John Rabe and the Nanking Massacre.” Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 47, no. 5 (2011): 661–80.
      2. Williams, Bruce. “Between Imagined Homelands: Florian Gallenberger’s John Rabe.” In Sino-German Encounters and Entanglements: Transnational Politics and Culture, 1890-1950, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 265-86. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.

  • Weiyena – ein Heimatfilm (Weiyena – The Long March Home, Weina Zhao and Judith Benedikt, 2020), available on DVD and Vimeo
    • This award-winning documentary feature delves into the family history of co-director Weina Zhao, whose parents named her after the Austrian capital city, Wien (Vienna). The film would lend itself to lessons about transnational connections, migration, the Cultural Revolution, diaspora, and more. The film has an active website.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Schiefer, Karin. “‘Man wird als jemand gelesen, der man nicht ist.’” Austrian Films. April 2020. https://www.austrianfilms.com/interview/weinazhao_judithbenedikt/weiyena_DE.

  • Beer! Beer! (FAN Popo, 17 minutes, 2019): available on Gagaoolala.
    • This “anti-romantic comedy” short was conceived by a queer Chinese filmmaker-activist who relocated to Berlin in 2017. The film depicts a late-night gay interracial encounter, with the director/writer playing the main character. Because the film takes place mostly in English, it depicts a new kind of first-generation experience for immigrant artists of the 21st century.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Fan, Popo and Hongwei Bao. “Love Your Films and Love Your Life: An Interview with Fan Popo Positions.” Asia Critique 27, no. 4 (2019): 799-809.
      2. Bao, Hongwei. “Digital Video Activism: Fan Popo’s Queer Asian Diasporic Politics.” Journal of Chinese Cinemas 17, no. 1 (2023): 10–23.
      3. Bao, Hongwei. “Performing Queer at the Theatre–Documentary Convergence: Fan Popo’s Screen Activism.” In Contemporary Chinese Queer Performance, 62-80. London: Routledge, 2023.

India

  • Die Leuchte Asiens (The Light of Asia/Prem Sanyas, Franz Osten, 1925), available on DVD and YouTube
    • As the first Indo-German co-production, the film’s Indian filming location and all-Indian cast were emphasized in promotional material. Lead actor and co-producer Himansu Rai wanted to use the film to provide an alternative to German orientalist films, such as Joe May’s Das indische Grabmal (The Indian Tomb, 1921). Cinematographer Josef Wirsching collaborated with director Franz Osten on a number of other “deutsche Indienfilme” (German Indian films).
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Schönfeld, Carl-Erdmann. “Franz Osten’s ‘The Light of Asia’ (1926): A German-Indian Film of Prince Buddha.” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 15, no. 4 (1995): 555–61.
      2. Gangar, Amrit. Franz Osten and the Bombay Talkies: A Journey from Munich to Malad. Bombay: Max Mueller Bhavan, 2000.
      3. Fuechtner, Veronika. “The International Project of National(ist) Film: Franz Osten in India.” In The Many Faces of Weimar Cinema: Rediscovering Germany’s Filmic Legacy, edited by Christian Rogowski, 167-81. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2010.
      4. Dablé, Nadine. “Der Filmpionier Franz Osten—Eine Mediengeschichte.” In Analyse, Theorie und Geschichte der Medien: Festschrift für Werner Faulstich, edited by Carsten Winter and Matthias Karmasin, 157-68. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2012.
      5. Halsall, Eleanor. “Franz Osten and the History of Indo-German Film Relations.” In The German Cinema Book, 2nd ed., edited by Tim Bergfelder, Erica Carter, Deniz Göktürk, and Claudia Sandberg, 456-67. London: British Film Institute, 2020.
  • Three film adaptations of Thea von Harbou’s 1918 novel Das indische Grabmal (The Indian Tomb). The first adaptation by Joe May (1921) is available on YouTube (Parts I & II combined). The second adaptation by Richard Eichberg (1938) is available on YouTube (Part II only). The third adaptation by Fritz Lang (1959) is available in two parts on MUBI (part I only), Amazon (Part I: Der Tiger von Eschnapur / The Tiger of Eschnapur; Part II: Das indische Grabmal), and Tubi (Part I; Part II)
    • As prime examples of German cinematic Orientalism and brownface acting, all three films adapt the novel in different ways, reflecting the spirit of their respective times (the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and Cold War West Germany). The plot is largely centered around the figure of the exotically handsome but vicious Maharaja, who invites a German architect to realize a major construction project. Abhorred by the sadistic Indian ruler, who attempts to punish his unfaithful wife through live burial, the German protagonists navigate a series of obstacles in order to return to Europe. Each film adaptation features sensuous dance scenes (especially in Eichberg’s and Lang’s versions) that generated much buzz and controversy during their release.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Shedde, Meenakshi, and Vinzenz Hediger. “Come on, Baby, Be My Tiger: Inventing India on the German Screen in Der Tiger von Eschnapur and Das indische Grabmal.” Rogue Press (2005). http://www.rouge.com.au/7/tiger.html.
      2. Tratner, Michael. “Lovers, Filmmakers, and Nazis: Fritz Lang’s Last Two Movies as Autobiography.” Biography 29, no. 1 (2006): 86-100.
      3. Lembke, Gerrit. “Thea von Harbou-Fremdbilder in den Erzähltexten der Frühen Moderne: Der unsterbliche Acker, Frau im Mond und Das indische Grabmal.” In Habitus und Fremdbild in der deutschen Prosaliteratur des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts, edited by Ewa Pytel-Bartnik and Maria Wojtczak, 275-85. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2006.
      4. Mennel, Barbara. “Returning Home: The Orientalist Spectacle of Fritz Lang’s Der Tiger von Eschnapur and Das indische Grabmal.” In Framing the Fifties: Cinema in a Divided Germany, edited by John E. Davidson and Sabine Hake, 10-27. New York: Berghahn, 2007.
      5. Gunning, Tom. “The Indian Tomb of the Dinosaur of Eschnapur.” In Outsider: Films on India, 1950-1990, edited by Shanay Jhaveri. Mumbai: Shoestring, 2009.
      6. Rogowski, Christian. “Movies, Money, and Mystique: Joe May’s Early Weimar Blockbuster, The Indian Tomb (1921).” In Weimar Cinema: An Essential Guide to Classic Films of the Era, edited by Noah Isenberg, 55-78. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.
      7. Breger, Claudia. “Performing Violence: Joe May’s Indian Tomb (1921).” In Contemplating Violence: Critical Studies in Modern German Culture, edited by Stefani Engelstein and Carl Niekerk, 199-224. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011.
      8. Figge, Maja. “(Post)Koloniale Beziehungen. Fritz Langs Indienfilme zwischen Abstraktion und Orientalismus.” In total. Universalismus und Partikularismus in post_kolonialer Medientheorie, edited by Ulrike Bergermann and Nanna Heidenreich, 189-206. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2015.
      9. Brill, Olaf, and Jörg Schöning, eds. Meister des Weimarer Kinos. Joe May und das wandernde Bild. Munich: edition text + Kritik, 2018.
      10. Figge, Maja. “Orientalistische Verschiebungen zwischen Deutschland und Indien. Fritz Langs Remakes Der Tiger von Eschnapur und Das indische Grabmal.” In Filmpionier und Mogul: Das Imperium des Joe May, edited by Hans-Michael Bock, Jan Distelmeyer, and Jörg Schöning, 122-36. Munich: Edition Text + Kritik, 2019.
      11. Schwaderer, Isabella. “‘Exotic Sensation’ or ‘Völkisch Art’? Press Reviews of the Indisches Ballett Menaka (Menaka Indian Ballet) on Tour Through Germany, 1936–1938” N.T.M. Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 31, no. 3 (2023): 333–56.
  • Träume sind wie wilde Tiger (Dreams are Like Wild Tigers, Lars Montag, 2021),  available on DVD and Amazon.de
    • This children’s film, co-written by Sathyan Ramesh, tells the story of a family from Mumbai moving to Berlin. While the parents make the most of it, their 12-year-old son Ranji is less enthusiastic, as he wishes to remain in India to fulfill his dreams of becoming a Bollywood star. As part of the initiative “Der besondere Kinderfilm” (Outstanding Films for Children), this is an original story aimed at a younger audience, like the Vietnamese-themed film Ente gut! Mädchen allein zu Haus (Fortune Favors the Brave, Norbert Lechner, 2016). The film was also adapted into a novel.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. The Movie Journalist. “INTERVIEW | Murali Perumal über ‘Träume sind wie wilde Tiger’.” YouTube Video, 17:17. February 2, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMUE5iNWxf8.
      2. “Ranji geht nach Bollywood.” Deutschlandfunk Kultur. February 5, 2022. https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/film-traueme-sind-wie-wilde-tiger-102.html.

Pakistan

  • Kommissar X jagt die roten Tiger (The Tiger Gang, Harald Reinl, 1971), available on DVD
    • One of the many James Bond action knockoffs of the 1960s and early 1970s, but this one is set in Pakistan and features South Asian actors. Other films in the 7-part Kommissar X series take place in South and Southeast Asia, such as Kommissar X – Drei gelbe Katzen (1966), Kommissar X – In den Klauen des goldenen Drachen (1966), and Kommissar X – Drei goldene Schlangen (1969)
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Bergfelder, Tim. “Beyond Respectability: B-Film Production in the 1960s.” In International Adventures: German Popular Cinema and European Co-Productions in the 1960s. New York: Berghahn, 2005. 207-36.
      2. Boller, Reiner. Der klassische Kriminalfilm, Band 5: Kommissar X. Mpw Medien Publikations, 2014.
  • Drachenfutter (Dragon’s Chow, Jan Schütte, 1987), available on VHS
    • A black-and-white feature film that revolves around the Pakistani asylum seeker Shezad (Bhasker Patel) and his curtailed attempt to open a Pakistani restaurant with his friend, Chinese immigrant Xiao (Ric Young). It lends itself to courses addressing Germany’s filmic migration history.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Moessner, Victoria Joan. “Dragon Chow: Asylum Seekers in German Film.” In Gender and Culture in Literature and Film East and West: Issues of Perception and Interpretation: Selected Conference Papers, edited by Nitaya Masavisut, George Simson, and Larry E. Smith. Honolulu, HI: College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature, University of Hawaii: East-West Center, 1994. 85-89.

Thailand

  • Gekauftes Glück (Bride of the Orient, Urs Odermatt, 1988), available on DVD and Vimeo
    • This dark anti-Heimatfilm depicts a Thai “mail-order bride” (played by Arunotai Jitreekan) who experiences racism in rural Switzerland. Werner Herzog co-stars as a particularly repugnant character.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Ruenkaew, Pataya. “Victims of Traffic in Women, Marriage Migrants, and Community Formation: A History of Migration of Thai Women to Germany.” In Gendered Encounters between Germany and Asia: Transnational Perspectives Since 1800, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho and Douglas T. McGetchin. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 253-73.
      2. The DVD also comes with a 48-page booklet

North and South Korea

  • Nicht Fisch, nicht Fleisch (Neither Fish nor Fowl, Matthias Keilich, 2002), available on DVD
    • Co-written by Ki Bun, this is the first German feature film with a Korean-German story. While a bit too reliant on Korean markers of difference, its depictions of a transracial adoptee reclaiming his cultural heritage, as well as its focus on an Asian protagonist couple, are well worth a watch.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Choi, Sun-ju. “Sichtbarkeit und (Re)Präsentation von Asiat_innen in deutschen Filmen.”  In Asiatische Deutsche Extended. Vietnamesische Diaspora and Beyond, expanded new edition, edited by Kien Nghi Ha, 322–33. Berlin: Assoziation A, 2021.
      2. Kim, Eleana. “Our Adoptee, Our Alien: Transnational Adoptees as Specters of Foreignness and Family in South Korea.” Anthropological Quarterly 80, no. 2 (2007): 497-531.
      3. Kim, Jodi. “An ‘Orphan’ with Two Mothers: Transnational and Transracial Adoption, the Cold War, and Contemporary Asian American Cultural Politics.” American Quarterly 61, no. 4 (2009): 855-80.
  • Die koreanische Hochzeitstruhe (The Korean Wedding Chest, Ulrike Ottinger, 2009), available on DVD; order from Ulrike Ottinger Filmproduktion
    • In this short documentary about Korean wedding conventions, Ottinger no longer seeks to capture societies about to disappear as a result of global capitalism, as in her previous work, but analyzes the uncanny ways in which traditional rites are preserved alongside newer developments.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Kuzniar, Alice A. “Uncanny Doublings and Asian Rituals in Recent Films by Monika Treut, Doris Dörrie, and Ulrike Ottinger.” Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture 27 (2011): 176-99.
      2. Prakash, Shambhavi. “Temporal Structures and Rhythms in Wenders’ Tokyo-Ga (1985) and Ottinger’s The Korean Wedding Chest (2009).” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 239-61. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      3. Love, Thomas. “Temporal Displacement in Ulrike Ottinger’s Films.” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 97, no. 4 (2022): 310-23.

  • Endstation der Sehnsüchte: Ein deutsches Dorf in Südkorea (Home from Home / 그리움의 종착역, Sung-Hyung Cho, 2009), available on YouTube (German audio, Korean subtitles), Watcha, Apple TV, and DVD (German audio, English subtitles)
    • The documentary portrays a group of South Korean nurses and miners who worked in Germany for four decades as guest workers and who now return, with their spouses, to a newly founded German Village (T’ogil maŭl) in their homeland. This film is particularly suitable for courses on the concept of Heimat, as director Sung-Hyung Cho thematizes multidirectional exoticization, reverse culture shock, and Heimatlosigkeit by experimenting with generic conventions of the Heimatfilm.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Roberts, Suin. “Sanfte Engel aus Korea: Korean Nurses in the German Media.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Germanic Linguistics and Semiotics 13, no. 2 (2008): 261–78.
      2. Berner Heike, and Sun-ju Choi. “Einleitung.” In Zuhause. Erzählungen von deutschen Koreanerinnen, 2nd ed., edited by Heike Berner, Sun-ju Choi, and Koreanische Frauengruppe in Deutschland, 16-16. Berlin: Assoziation A, 2011.
      3. Roberts, Suin. Language of Migration: Self- and Other-Representation of Korean Migrants in Germany. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.
      4. Cho, Youngmin. “Double Longing: The Return Home in South Korean Women’s Documentaries.” Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema 7, no.2 (2015): 133-148.
      5. Choi, Yun-Young. “Fernliebe und Fernheimat als Schauplatz der Globalisierung. Mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Films Endstation der Sehnsüchte,” in Migration und kulturelle Diversität: Tagungsbeiträge des XII. Internationalen Türkischen Germanistik Kongresses Bd. I: Literatur- und Übersetzungswissenschaft, edited by Metin Toprak and Ali Osman, 257–67. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2015.
      6. Roberts, Suin. “The Gendered Migration Experience: South Korean Nurses in West Germany.” In Gendered Encounters between Germany and Asia: Transnational Perspectives since 1800, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho and Douglas T. McGetchin, 195–212. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
      7. Roberts, Suin. “Endstation der Sehnsüchte: Home-Making of Return Gastarbeiter Migrants.” In Transnational Encounters between Germany and Korea: Affinity in Culture and Politics since the 1880s, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho and Lee M. Roberts, 259-278. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
      8. Wee, Desmond. “Home Away at Home: Mediating Spaces of Tourism and Narratives of Belonging in the German Village of South Korea.” In Film Tourism in Asia: Evolution, Transformation, and Trajectory, edited by Sangkyun Kim and Stijn Reijnders, 221–38. Singapore: Springer Nature, 2018.
      9. Choi, Yun-Young. “‘장소’에서 ‘공간’으로—조성형의 고향영화 삼부작,” 독일어문학 88 (2020): 31–52.
      10. Ahn, Yonson. “Samaritans from the East: Emotion and Korean Nurses in Germany.” Korean Studies 45 (2021): 9–35.
      11. Zinda, Yvonne Schulz. “Das ‘Deutsche Dorf’ in Namhae. Arbeiten in Deutschland, Altern in Korea.” In Unbekannte Vielfalt. Einblicke in die koreanische Migrationsgeschichte in Deutschland, 2nd ed., edited by Yong-Seun Chang-Gusko, Nataly Jung-Hwa Han, and Arnd Kolb, 201–10. Munich: DOMiD, 2022.
  • Verliebt, verlobt, verloren (In Love, Engaged, Lost / 사랑하고 약혼하고 사라져 버렸다, Sung-Hyung Cho, 2015), available on Amazon.de and DVD
    • Six years after Endstation der Sehnsüchte premiered to critical acclaim in the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2009, Sung-Hyung Cho explores the other side of Korean-German history in her new film about North Korea and East Germany. Verliebt, verlobt, verloren features East German women’s reminiscences of their ex-husbands from North Korea, who first came to the GDR as international students in the 1950s. When the Sino-Soviet Split in 1960 initially led the GDR to side with the Soviet Union and the DPRK with China, the North Korean students had to return to their home country, thus leaving the women and their biracial children permanently behind.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Choong, Kevin Teo Kia. “Old/New Korea(s): Korean-ness, Alterity, and Dreams of Re-Unification in South Korean Cinema.” Contemporary Justice Review 8, no.3 (2005): 321-334.
      2. Kang-Schmitz, Liana. “Nordkoreas Umgang mit Abhängigkeit und Sicherheitsrisiko—Am Beispiel der bilateralen Beziehungen zur DDR.” PhD Dissertation, Universität Trier, 2010.
      3. Borchardt, Katharina. “Forscherin über Nordkorea und DDR: ‚Trink dein Bier!‘” TAZ, March 3, 2013. https://taz.de/Forscherin-ueber-Nordkorea-und-DDR/!5072547/.
      4. Hong, Young-Sun. “Through a Glass Darkly: East German Assistance to North Korea and Alternative Narratives of the Cold War.” In Comrades of Color: East Germany in the Cold War World, edited by Quinn Slobodian, 43-72. New York: Berghahn, 2015.
      5. Williams, Bruce. “Liminal Visions: Cinematic Representations of the German and Korean Divides.” In Transnational Encounters between Germany and Korea since the 1880s, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho and Lee M. Roberts, 177-194. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
      6. Seong, Sang-Hwan. “Korean-German Relations from the 1950s to the 1980s: Archive-Based Approach to Cold War-Era History.” In Transnational Encounters between Germany and Korea since the 1880s, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho and Lee M. Roberts, 133-58. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
      7. Koreanisches Kulturzentrum, “Online-Diskussion zum 30. Tag der Deutschen Einheit: Film im Gespräch,” YouTube, October 3, 2020, video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptK1Y7Pbw4I.
      8. Pugach, Sara. “The Global GDR.” In After the Imperialist Imagination: Two Decades of Research on Global Germany and Its Legacies, edited by Sara Pugach, David Pizzo, and Adam A. Blackler, 205–20. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2020.
      9. Choe, Steve. “The Persistence of the Popular: The Cinemas of National Division in Germany and Korea.” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 218-36. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      10. Winter, Sarah. “Nordkoreanische Studierende in der DDR. Ein Forschungsüberblick.” In Unbekannte Vielfalt. Einblicke in die koreanische Migrationsgeschichte in Deutschland, 2nd ed., edited by Yong-Seun Chang-Gusko, Nataly Jung-Hwa Han, and Arnd Kolb, 87–97. Munich: DOMiD, 2022.
      11. Zhou, Qingyang Freya. “‘A Temporality of Imminent, Never-Consummated Arrival’: Contemporary German Documentaries on North Korea.” German Studies Review 46, no. 2 (2023): 285-305.
  • Eine Postkarte aus Pjöngjang: Reise durch Nordkorea (A Postcard from Pyongyang—Traveling through North Korea, Gregor Möllers and Anne Lewald, 2019), available on Vimeo and YouTube
    • Essentially a travelogue, Möllers and Lewald’s film explores contradictions between reality and performativity, between the dramatic in Western journalistic reports and the quotidian in North Korean society by adopting a film style that oscillates from the participatory to the observational, from the personal to the objective. The film is suitable for a course on documentary studies, contemporary North Korea, and theatricality.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Horton, Aaron D. “The ‘Ignorant’ Other: Popular Stereotypes of North Koreans in South Korea and East Germans in Unified Germany.” In Transnational Encounters between Germany and Korea since the 1880s, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho and Lee M. Roberts, 195-214. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
      2. Zhou, Qingyang Freya. “‘A Temporality of Imminent, Never-Consummated Arrival’: Contemporary German Documentaries on North Korea.” German Studies Review 46, no. 2 (2023): 285-305.

Japan

  • Harakiri (Fritz Lang, 1919), available on Amazon and YouTube (intertitles in German)
    • Harakiri is a silent adaptation of the popular Madame Butterfly story. It dramatizes an evil and oppressive Buddhism to explain the exotic and barbaric practice of hara-kiri, thus shifting the responsibility for Butterfly’s (played by Lil Dagover) tragedy from an unfaithful European lover to Japan itself. 
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Miyao, Daisuke. “The Hand of Buddha: Madame Butterfly and the Yellow Peril in Fritz Lang’s Harakiri (1919).” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 33, no. 8 (2016): 707–721.
      2. Shen, Qinna. “Implicating Buddhism in Madame Butterfly’s Tragedy: Japonisme and Japan-Bashing in Fritz Lang’s Harakiri (1919).” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 27-58. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      3. Law, Ricky W. “The Familiar Unfamiliar: Japan in Interwar German Feature Films.” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 59-79. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      4. Gueneli, Berna. “Art, artifice, and eroticized infantilization: Imagining Japanese femininities in the Weimar Republic in Fritz Lang’s Harakiri (1919) and Kapitän Mertens’s Kio, die lasterhafte Kirschblüte (1924).” The German Quarterly 96, no. 3 (2023): 326-43.
  • Die Tochter des Samurai (The Samurai’s Daughter/新しき土, Arnold Fanck and Mansaku Itami, 1937), available on Archive.org
    • Die Tochter des Samurai offers a glimpse into the notorious collaboration between the Nazi regime and its counterpart in East Asia. It draws on generic conventions of the Bergfilm, explores concepts of Blut und Boden, and offers a fascinating view on Japanese femininity that counters the typical tragic ending reserved for the Asian woman.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Hansen, Janine. Arnold Fancks“Die Tochter des Samurai.” Nationalsozialistische Propaganda und japanische Filmpolitik. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1997.
      2. Hansen, Janine. “The New Earth (1936–37). A German-Japanese Misalliance in Film.” In Praise of Film Studies: Essay Collection in Honor of Makino Mamoru, edited by Aaron Gerow and Abé Mark Nornes, 184-98. Yokohama/Ann Arbor, MI: Kinema Club, 2001.
      3. Bieber, Hans-Joachim. “‘Die Tochter des Samurai.’ Deutsch-japanische Filmproduktionen in der NS-Zeit.” In Kultur, Politik und Öffentlichkeit. Festschrift für Jens Flemming, 355-77. Kassel: Kassel UP, 2009.
      4. Haukamp, Iris. “Fräulein Setsuko Hara: Constructing an International Film in Nationalist Contexts.” Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema 6, no. 1 (2014): 4–22.
      5. Law, Ricky W. “Beauty and the Beast: Japan in Interwar German Newsreels.” In Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia, edited by Qinna Shen and Martin Rosenstock, 17-33. New York: Berghahn, 2014.
      6. Weinstein, Valerie. “Reflecting Chiral Modernities: The Function of Genre in Arnold Fanck’s Transnational Bergfilm, The Samurai’s Daughter (1936-37).” In Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia, edited by Qinna Shen and Martin Rosenstock, 34-51. New York: Berghahn, 2014.
      7. Bohnke, Christin. “The Perfect German Woman: Gender and Imperialism in Arnold Fanck’s Die Tochter des Samurai and Itami Mansaku’s The New Earth.” Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture 33 (2017): 77–100.
      8. Bohnke, Christin. “Postcolonial Theory Reconsidered: Discourses of Race, Gender, and Imperialism in the German-Japanese Realm.” PhD Dissertation, University of Toronto, 2017, https://hdl.handle.net/1807/80744.
      9. Haukamp, Iris. “Early Transcontinental Film Relations: Japan, Germany and the Compromises of Co-Production, 1926–1933.” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 37, no. 2 (2017): 174–202.
      10. Law, Ricky W. “Japan in Films.” In Transnational Nazism: Ideology and Culture in German-Japanese Relations, 1919-1936, 204-34. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2019.
      11. Haukamp, Iris. A Foreigner’s Cinematic Dream of Japan: Representational Politics and Shadows of War in the Japanese-German Co-production New Earth (1937). New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020.
      12. Law, Ricky W. “The Familiar Unfamiliar: Japan in Interwar German Feature Films.” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 59-79. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      13. Shen, Qinna. “The Berlin–Tokyo Film Axis and a Troubled Coproduction: The Makers of New Earth/The Samurai’s Daughter (1937).” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 42, no. 3 (2021): 451-69.
      14. Arnold, Wayne E., and Adrian Wood. “Kashiko Kawakita and the 1932 Towa Shoji Film Diary.” Det Danske Filminstitut, December 15, 2023. https://www.kosmorama.org/artikler/kashiko-kawakita.
  • Der schweigende Stern (The Silent Star, Kurt Maetzig, 1960), available on Kanopy
    • A DEFA science fiction film featuring an international cast, with Japanese doctor Sumiko (Yoko Tani) as a protagonist. The cast also includes more minor characters: Chinese linguist Tschen Yü (Tang Hua-Ta) and an Indian mathematician performed in brownface. The film is particularly suitable for courses on East German cinema, socialist realism, and transnational collaborations in the socialist world.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Soldovieri, Stefan. “Socialists in Outer Space: East German Film’s Venusian Adventure.” In A Companion to Eastern European Cinemas, edited by Anikó Imre, 201-23. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
      2. Torner, Evan. “Casting for a Socialist Earth: Multicultural Whiteness in the East German/Polish Science Fiction Film Silent Star.” In The Liverpool Companion to World Science Fiction Film, edited by Sonja Fritzsche, 118-37. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool UP, 2014.
      3. Fritzsche, Sonja. “Dreams of ‘Cosmic Culture’ in Der schweigende Stern [The Silent Star, 1960].” In Re-Imagining DEFA: East German Cinema in Its National and Transnational Contexts, edited by Seán Allan and Sebastian Heiduschke, 210-26. New York: Berghahn, 2016.
      4. Hodgin, Nick. “Futures Remembered: Kosmonauts, the GDR, and the Retrospective Impulse.” In The Oxford Handbook of Communist Visual Cultures, edited by Aga Skrodzka, Xiaoning Lu, and Katarzyna Marciniak, 629-48. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2020.
  • Tokyo-Ga (Wim Wenders, 1985), available on the Criterion Channel
    • Tokyo-Ga is a hybrid work that pays homage to the legendary Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, explores the contemporary culture of Tokyo, and reflects on the nature of film in relation to television, video, and new media. It is suitable for courses on auteur cinema, film history, and documentary studies.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Alter, Nora M. “Global Politics, Cinematographic Space: Wenders’s Tokyo-Ga and Notebooks on Cities and Clothes.” In Projecting History: German Nonfiction Cinema, 1967-2000, 103-50. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.
      2. Williams, Bruce. “The Road to Japan: The Tokyo Diary Films of Wim Wenders.” In German-East Asian Encounters and Entanglements: Affinity in Culture and Politics Since 1945, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 269-88. New York: Routledge, 2020.
      3. Prakash, Shambhavi. “Temporal Structures and Rhythms in Wenders’ Tokyo-Ga (1985) and Ottinger’s The Korean Wedding Chest (2009).” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 239-61. New York: Routledge, 2021.
  • Erleuchtung garantiert (Enlightenment Guaranteed, Doris Dörrie, 1999), available on Vimeo and Amazon.de
    • It is a feature film about two troubled German brothers who are “enlightened” after staying at a Zen Buddhist temple in Japan. It is suitable for courses on German comedy, Germans go abroad, German-Japanese encounters, and/or transnational cinema.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Benbow, Heather Merle. “Ethnic Drag in the Films of Doris Dörrie.” German Studies Review 30, no. 3 (2007): 517-36.
      2. Benbow, Heather Merle. “‘That’s Not Zen!’ Mocking Ethnographic Film in Doris Dörrie’s Enlightenment Guaranteed.” In Too Bold for the Box Office: The Mockumentary from Big Screen to Small, edited by Cynthia J. Miller, 121-37. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2012.
      3. Williams, Bruce. “My Own Private Tokyo: The Japan Features of Doris Dörrie.” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 262-81. New York: Routledge, 2021.
  • Kirschblüten – Hanami (Cherry Blossoms, Doris Dörrie, 2008), available on Amazon (Strand Releasing) and Kanopy, and its sequel, Kirschblüten & Dämonen (Cherry Blossoms and Demons, 2019), available on Amazon.de
    • This feature film uses cherry blossoms and the mayfly to convey the theme of impermanence and the Butoh dance as a shamanic form of mourning. Dörrie’s Japanophilic films are good to teach in contrast to earlier Orientalist films such as Harakiri
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Kuzniar, Alice A. “Uncanny Doublings and Asian Rituals in Recent Films by Monika Treut, Doris Dörrie, and Ulrike Ottinger.” Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture 27 (2011): 176-99.
      2. Nelson, Erika M. “Love, Pain, and the Whole Japan Thing: Dancing MA in Doris Dörrie’s Cherry Blossoms/Hanami.” In Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia, edited by Qinna Shen and Martin Rosenstock, 190-215. New York: Berghahn, 2014.
      3. Williams, Bruce. “My Own Private Tokyo: The Japan Features of Doris Dörrie.” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 262-81. New York: Routledge, 2021.

  • Grüße aus Fukushima (Greetings from Fukushima/Fukushima, mon amour, Doris Dörrie, 2016), available on Amazon.de and DVD
    • It is good to teach Cherry Blossoms together with Fukushima mon amour since they both explore the themes of loss and grief as well as the Zen Buddhist idea of transience and living in the present moment. Aesthetically and narratively, the film pays homage to Hiroshima mon amour in its black/white color palette and in thematizing mutual healing after traumatic experiences. 
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Kiejziewicz, Agnieszka. “The Nuclear Technology Debate Returns: Narratives about Nuclear Power in Post-Fukushima Japanese films.” Transmissions: The Journal of Film and Media Studies 2, no. 1 (2017): 117-31.
      2. Stanzel, Volker. “A Nuclear Fall-out Turning Political: The German-Japanese Relationship and the Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Incident.” In Transnational Encounters between Germany and East Asia since 1900, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 123-42. New York: Routledge, 2018.
      3. Williams, Bruce. “My Own Private Tokyo: The Japan Features of Doris Dörrie.” In East Asian-German Cinema: The Transnational Screen, 1919 to the Present, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 262-81. New York: Routledge, 2021.
  • Family Romance, LLC (Werner Herzog, 2019), available on Amazon (MUBI), Amazon.de, and Apple TV
    • Family Romance, LLC tells a fictionalized story of the titular family rental company and its founder/proprietor Yuichi Ishii, both real entities widely known in Japan. The film’s liminal status between documentary and fiction mystifies Japan, exploring whether the country is a representative of the universal lack of truth in modern society or the unique site where ubiquitous performativity takes place. The film could be used in courses on auteur cinema, documentary theory, gender and sexuality, psychoanalysis, and performativity studies.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Freud, Sigmund. “Family Romances (1909).” The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume IX (1906-1908): Jensen’s ‘Gradiva’ and Other Works, translated by James Strachey, Hogarth Press, 1959, 235-241.
      2. Goto, Miyabi. “‘What If They Are Just Actors Playing Roles?’ Family Romance, LLC and the Limits of Imagination.” Film Criticism 43, no. 3, 2019. Accessed April 6, 2021, https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/fc/13761232.0043.322?view=text;rgn=main.
      3. Dong, Kelley. “The Rented and the Real: Werner Herzog’s ‘Family Romance, LLC.’” MUBI, 3 July 2020. Accessed 10 May 2021, https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/the-rented-and-the-real-werner-herzog-s-family-romance-llc.

Mongolia

  • Die goldene Jurte (The Golden Yurt, Gottfried Kolditz and Rabschaa Dordschpalam, 1961), available on DVD via the DEFA Film Library and YouTube
    • This fairy-tale film is a co-production of DEFA and Mongolkino in Ulan Bator that came out in the year of the fortieth anniversary of socialist Mongolia. It is hard to ignore the possibility that casting an East German actor (Kurt Muhlhardt) in the deus-ex-machina role of the Water-Khan was a means of highlighting the crucial role that (East) German assistance plays in building a better and more prosperous Mongolia as symbolized by the golden yurt.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Shen, Qinna. The Politics of Magic: DEFA Fairy-Tale Films. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2015.
      2. Shen, Qinna. “Deconstructing Orientalism: DEFA’s Fictions of East Asia.” In Re-imagining DEFA: East German Cinema in its National and Transnational Contexts, edited by Seán Allan and Sebastian Heiduschke, 146-67. New York: Berghahn, 2016.
  • Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia (Joan of Arc of Mongolia, Ulrike Ottinger, 1989), available on DVD; order from Ulrike Ottinger Filmproduktion
    • In this film, Euro-American travelers encounter Mongolian nomads who lead a traditional life. With a film style that oscillates between observational documentary and fiction, Ottinger exoticizes Mongolian culture and stages a performance of ethnicity for the benefit of Western audiences. The film is particularly suitable for courses on queer German cinema, New German Cinema, auteur studies, and ethnographic filmmaking.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Longfellow, Brenda. “Lesbian Phantasy and the Other Woman in Ottinger’s Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia.Screen 32, no. 2 (1993): 124-36.
      2. Trumpener, Katie. “Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia in the Mirror of Dorian Gray: Ethnographic Recordings and the Aesthetics of the Market in the Recent Films of Ulrike Ottinger.” New German Critique 60 (1993): 77-99.
      3. Whissel, Kristen. “Racialized Spectacle, Exchange Relations, and the Western in Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia.Screen 37, no.1 (1996): 41-67.
      4. Rao, Shanta. “Ethno-Documentary Discourse and Cultural Otherness in Ulrike Ottinger’s Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia.” In Other Germanies: Questioning Identity in Women’s Literature and Art, edited by Karen Jankowsky and Carla Love, 147-64. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.
      5. Knight, Julia. “Observing Rituals: Ulrike Ottinger’s Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia.” In Triangulated Visions: Women in Recent German Cinema, edited by Ingeborg Majer O’Sickey and Ingeborg von Zadow, 103-15. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.
      6. Davidson, John E. “Railing against Convention, or Camping Out in Mongolia: The Performative Displacements of Ulrike Ottinger’s Johanna D’Arc of Mongolia.” In Deterritorializing the New German Cinema, 107-53. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.
      7.  Shahan, Cyrus. “Decadent Fetishism in Ulrike Ottinger’s Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia.Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 45, no. 2 (2009): 174-88.
      8. Love, Thomas. “Temporal Displacement in Ulrike Ottinger’s Films.” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 97, no. 4 (2022): 310-23.
  • Schau mich nicht so an (Don’t Look at Me That Way, Uisenma Borchu, 2015), available on Amazon (IndiePix), Amazon.de, and DVD
    • The debut feature film is by Mongolian German director Uisenma Borchu, who also stars as the queer protagonist Hedi. This provocative film earned Borchu the Bavarian Film Prize for Best New Director and Mongolian Woman of the Year in the art/culture/sport category. This film is particularly suitable for queer German cinema courses at the graduate level (content note: sexually explicit material).
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Sonnenschein, Ulrich. “Kritik zu Schau mich nicht so an.” epd film. May 25, 2016. https://www.epd-film.de/filmkritiken/schau-mich-nicht-so.
      2. alpha forum. “Uisenma Borchu: Filmregisseurin im Gespräch mit Klaus J. Neumann.” Bayerischer Rundfunk. June 13, 2016. https://www.br.de/fernsehen/ard-alpha/sendungen/alpha-forum/uisenma-borchu-gespraech-100.html.
      3. Fitzpatrick, Zach Ramon. “Feeling at Home in Munich and Mongolia: (Dis)orientation and Queer Diaspora in Uisenma Borchu’s Schau mich nicht so an (2015).” Feminist German Studies 38, no. 2 (2022): 79-107.

Cambodia

  • Herrin der Welt (Mistress of the World, Wilhelm Dieterle/Richard Angst, 1959-1960), available on DVD
    • A two-part remake of the original 1919-1920 adventure film series, but with its location switched from China to Thailand/Cambodia, sparking the trend of on-location shooting of German adventure films in Thailand during the 1960s. Valéry Inkijinoff and Hollywood actor Sabu star as monks. Co-director and cinematographer Richard Angst worked on numerous other films set in Asia.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Bergfelder, Tim. “Artur Brauner’s CCC: Remigration, Popular Genres, and International Aspirations.” In International Adventures: German Popular Cinema and European Co-Productions in the 1960s, 103–37. New York: Berghahn, 2005.

  • Same Same but Different (Detlev Buck, 2009), available on YouTube, Kanopy and DVD
    • A biopic based on the romance between German backpacker Benjamin Prüfer in Cambodia, who falls in love with Sreykeo (Apinya Sakuljaroensuk). The film is based on the 2006 article for Stern.de, “Bis der Tod sie mir wegnimmt: Meine große Liebe ist HIV-positiv.”
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Halle, Randall. “East-West Globality and the European Mode of Film Production.” In Imagining Germany Imagining Asia: Essays in Asian-German Studies, edited by Veronika Fuechtner and Mary Rhiel, 17-33. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2013.

Other

  • Nordsee ist Mordsee (North Sea is Dead Sea, Hark Bohm, 1976), available on DVD and YouTube (link 1, link 2)
    • This gritty teen film by Fassbinder collaborator Hark Bohm depicts the isolation and bullying of its Asian protagonist (Dschingis Bowakow) in working-class Hamburg. Despite its questionable representational methods, the film does intend to be anti-racist. However, most remember the film for its rebellious second half, where Dschingis and one of his former bullies steal a sailboat together and try to escape their problems.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Gollub, Christian-Albrecht and Dagmar Stern. “Hark Bohm: Films Addressing Questions.” New German Filmmakers: From Oberhausen Through the 1970s, edited by Klaus Phillips. Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1984. 20-43.
  • November (Hito Steyerl, 2004, 25 minutes), available on Vimeo
    • November is a political essay film by the internationally acclaimed filmmaker Hito Steyerl, who has a German father and a Chinese mother, according to Steyerl herself after a film screening in Berlin. The film is a moving tribute to Steyerl’s deceased friend, Andrea Wolf. It also touches on many other topics: the 1968 generation and RAF (Rote Armee Fraktion); the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and Kurdish nationalism; oppression and violence; Kurdish people in Germany; export of GDR-era ammunitions; Bruce Lee and martial arts; women in media; sex and violence. It is also a brilliant aesthetic experiment: the self-reflexive and compact narrative structure of the film, the traveling image, and the relationship between fact and fiction provide rich topics for classroom discussions.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Lafuente, Pablo. “For a Populist Cinema: On Hito Steyerl’s November and Lovely Andrea.” Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry 19 (2008): 64-70.
      2. Demos, T. J. “Moving Images of Globalization.” Grey Room 37 (2009): 6-29.
      3. Heberer, Feng-Mei. “Improper Asiatische Deutsche: The Video Art of Ming Wong and Hito Steyerl.” In Asians on Demand: Mediating Race in Video Art and Activism, 21–46. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2023.
      4. Baer, Hester. “Feminist Film and Media.” The German Quarterly 91, no. 2 (Spring 2018): 213-16.
  • Tschick (Goodbye Berlin, Fatih Akin, 2016), available on DVD (English subtitles), Tubi, and Amazon.de (German subtitles only)
    • Adapted from Wolfgang Herrndorf’s popular 2010 novel, Tschick is a coming-of-age/teen road film by Turkish-German director Fatih Akin. The titular character is a multiracial Russian outsider figure who is frequently referred to as looking Mongolian; his character is played by newcomer Anand Batbileg, of Mongolian descent. It is suitable for courses on literary adaptations and contemporary film.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Evans, Owen. “Building Bridges: Fatih Akin and the Cinema of Intercultural Dialogue.” In Nationalism in Contemporary Western European Cinema, 145-67. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
      2. Tarigan, Oktavia, Surya Masniari Hutagalung, and Rina Evianty. “Eine Analyse der Verletzungen des Kooperationsprinzip im Film, Tschick (Goodbye Berlin) von Fatih Akin.” Studia: Journal des Deutschprogramms 7, no. 1 (2018): 41-50.
      3. Gueneli, Berna. Fatih Akin’s Cinema and the New Sound of Europe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019.
      4. Otten, Hannah S. “Unterwegs: Roadmovies im Deutschunterricht.” Master’s Thesis, Freie Universität Berlin, 2019.
      5. Kirsner, Inge. “Tschick.” In Komm und sieh: Religion im Film, 157–62. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 2020.
      6. Quintana-Vallejo, Ricardo. “Diasporic Coming-of-age Novels of Eastern European Diasporas in Contemporary Berlin: Yadé Kara and Wolfgang Herrndorf.” In Children of Globalization: Diasporic Coming-of-Age Novels in Germany, England, and the United States, 123-41. New York: Routledge, 2021.
      7. Beck, Sandra, and Thomas Wortmann. “Tschick (2016): Die Welt ist keine Scheibe.” In Die Filme Fatih Akins, edited by Cornelia Ruhe and Thomas Wormann, 251-81. Cologne: Brill, 2022.

Qingyang Freya Zhou is a PhD candidate in German and Film Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2024 and 2025, she will be a Junior Fellow at Seoul National University’s Kyujanggak Institute International Center for Korean Studies and a Dissertation Research Fellow at the Freie Universität’s Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies. Her research focuses on the literary and cinematic interactions between Germany and East Asia since the Cold War, with a special emphasis on socialist internationalism and migration studies. Her two most recent articles on Asian German films won the 2023 Coalition of Women in German Best Article Prize and the 2022 German Studies Association Graduate Student Essay Prize, and were published in Seminar and German Studies Review.

Zach Ramon Fitzpatrick is an Assistant Professor of German at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 2022, he earned his Ph.D. in German from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he received the Mellon-CES (Council for European Studies) Dissertation Completion Fellowship. His research on Asian German studies is featured in the edited volumes East Asian-German Cinema (2021) and How to Make the Body (2022), as well as the journal Feminist German Studies (2022). He teaches courses such as “Asiatische Diaspora” and “The Racialized German Screen.” He also runs the Instagram account “@AsianGermanUpdates,” where he has garnered a following by posting about Asian German media, history, people, news, and community events throughout the German-speaking world.

Qinna Shen is Associate Professor of German at Bryn Mawr College. Her research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century German culture, with an emphasis on visual studies and Asian German Studies. She has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. She is the author of The Politics of Magic: DEFA Fairy-Tale Films (2015). Her co-edited volume Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia appeared in the series Spektrum: Publications of the German Studies Association in 2014 with Berghahn Press. She is a member of the German Studies Review editorial board and chaired the German Studies Association (GSA) Seminar Committee for the 2023 and 2024 conferences. In 2021, she also chaired the DAAD/GSA Article Prize Committee. Her second monograph, Jiny Lan and the Art of Subversion: Chinese-German Culture and Politics through a Feminist Lens, is currently under review for publication by Camden House. She is a member of CineGraph Babelsberg and contributes regularly to their journal Filmblatt and their Filmreihen.

About Qingyang Freya Zhou

Qingyang Freya Zhou is a PhD candidate in German Studies, with a Designated Emphasis in Film Studies, at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on the intersections between socialist internationalism and postcolonial studies, particularly the literary and cinematic interactions between Germany and East Asia during the Cold War and beyond.
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