Asian-German Filmography: A Teaching Guide

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 Zhou (UC Berkeley), Zach Ramon Fitzpatrick (UIC), and Qinna Shen (Bryn Mawr), 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. 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.

The authors recognize that classifying transnational films by country might be a problematic practice. Indeed, some of the films listed complicate the model. For example, Der schweigende Stern has Asian characters with three different nationalities; viewers are left to assume the identity of Nordsee ist Mordsee’s Asian protagonist; 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, Filipino, and Sri Lankan immigrants in Germany and the relative dearth of films that portray these groups might suggest continued marginalization against some South Asians and Southeast Asians.

The current list is by no means exhaustive; rather it 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. 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 Zhou (qingyangzhou@berkeley.edu).


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 via 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, 243-264. New York: Berghahn, 2015.
  • Dschungelzeit (Time in the Jungle/Ngon Thap Ha Noi, Joerg Foth and Tran Vu, 1988), available on DVD via the DEFA Film Library
    • A Vietnamese-East German co-production, this film adapts the true story of Germans who defected from the French Foreign Legion to join the Viet Minh anti-colonial resistance in the late 1940s. Although it was a little-known box-office flop largely disowned by the two countries’ production teams after its release, Dschungelzeit counts as one of the most illuminating case studies that can reveal the limits of the GDR’s international solidarity with the Third World.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Torner, Evan. “Apocalypse Hanoi – An Interview with Jörg Foth about Dschungelzeit (1988).” Guy in the Black Hat. September 22, 2011. https://guyintheblackhat.com/2011/09/22/apocalypse-hanoi-an-interview-with-jorg-foth-about-dschungelzeit-1988/.
      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, 243-264. New York: Berghahn, 2015.
  • Die Friseuse (The Hairdresser, Doris Dörrie, 2010), available on DVD
    • While Dörrie is more well-known for her multiple films about Japan, the second half of Die Friseuse depicts a struggling white hairdresser housing Vietnamese asylum seekers who crossed the Polish border. Parts of the film take place in the Vietnamese Dong Xuan Center in Berlin-Lichtenberg. The main Vietnamese character Tien (Ill-Young Kim) is unique as an Asian male love interest.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Dao, Huy. “Transnationale Politik von Geschichte, Erinnerung und Lokalität – Vietnamesische Communities in Kalifornien und Berlin.”  In Asiatische Deutsche: Vietnamesische Diaspora and Beyond, edited by Kien Nghi Ha, 212-225. Berlin: Assoziation A, 2012.
      2. Layne, Priscilla. “Regulating and Transgressing the Borders of the Berlin Republic in Doris Dörrie’s The Hairdresser.” Women in German Yearbook 31 (2015): 147–173.
  • Wir sind jung. Wir sind stark (We Are Young. We Are Strong, Burhan Qurbani, 2014), available on US Netflix
    • An excellent 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, social integration of immigrants, 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.
  • Mein Vietnam (My Vietnam, Thi Hien Mai/Tim Ellrich, 2020)
    • Filmed before the pandemic, this First Steps Award-winning documentary depicts a working-class Vietnamese couple who has been living in Germany for 30 years. Through Skype and online karaoke rooms, they maintain digital connections to their home country. The filmmakers maintain an active Instagram account.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Ha, Kien Nghi, editor. Asiatische Deutsche: Vietnamesische Diaspora and Beyond. Berlin: Assoziation A, 2012.
      2. Reisinger, Jovana. “Deutsche Filmbranche: Schluss mit den Stereotypen.” Yì Magazìn. May 21, 2021. https://www.goethe.de/prj/yim/de/mag/22221317.html.
      3. Adjei, Cindy, Marcel Hopp und Melis Yeter. “Über das Sichtbarmachen der Elterngeneration – mit Thi Hien Mai und Tim Ellrich, Regisseur*innen der Doku ‘Mein Vietnam’.” Power of Color. Podcast audio. May 30, 2021.https://open.spotify.com/episode/0qkiiQYVflJ5h7MCtC4E9S?si=MyTsNo1vRAGLHh7-jrLcVA.
  • Jackfruit (Thuy Trang Nguyen, 2021), available on CineAsian
    • This short film by an up-and-coming Vietnamese-German filmmaker depicts Mít, a gender-fluid person of the third generation of Vietnamese migration who navigates life as a queer individual in Berlin, while also staying connected to their ethnic heritage and caring for their grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease. Mít finds solace in their identity by discovering the bodhisattva Guanyin, whose gender is not constrained by the Western binary. The filmmaker maintains an active Instagram account.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Gang, Sung Un. “EP. 12 Thuy: Jackfruit.” Bin ich Süßsauer? Podcast audio. March 31, 2021. https://open.spotify.com/episode/2X370OIZ7ucEb9jNH7JJ7i?si=c4d57b07e9504d87.

Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan

  • 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. Sterritt, David. “The Animated Adventures of Lotte Reiniger.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 37, no. 4 (2020): 398-401.
      2. 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.
      3. Acadia, Lilith. “‘Lover of Shadows’: Lotte Reiniger’s Innovation, Orientalism, and Progressivism.” Forthcoming in Oxford German Studies.
  • Song/Schmutziges Geld (Show Life, Richard Eichberg, 1928)
    • A thought-provoking silent film starring Anna May Wong and Henry George that exemplifies orientalist depictions of an Asian woman’s submissiveness and loyalty in an abusive relationship with a white man. Just as in Piccadilly, Songdances in a nightclub that fetishizes exotic Asian sexuality for a European audience. This will be a great film to use in a course on silent cinema, gender and sexuality, migration and social integration, and/or Orientalism.
    • Secondary criticism: 
      1. 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.
  • Piccadilly (Ewald André Dupont, 1929), available on Vimeo
    • It is an excellent 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, 185-189. 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, 137-167. New York: Berghahn, 2014.
      3. Li, Yumin. “Shape shifters: Racialized and gendered crossings in Piccadilly (1929) and Shanghai Express (1932).” Sexualities 23, no. 1–2 (2020): 170–200. 
  • Shanghai Express (Josef von Sternberg, 1932), available on DVD
    • The film is set during the first Chinese civil war between Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT and the communists, and it is the only feature film where Anna May Wong co-stars with Marlene Dietrich. Anna May Wong’s character differs from her stereotypical “Asian fetish” roles in earlier silent features.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Baxter, John. “Talk Like a Train.” In Von Sternberg, 142-151. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2010.
      2. Li, Yumin. “Shape shifters: Racialized and gendered crossings in Piccadilly (1929) and Shanghai Express (1932).” Sexualities 23, no. 1–2 (2020): 170–200. 
  • Alarm in Peking (Herbert Selpin, 1937)
    • A propaganda film depicting the so-called Boxer Rebellion in China around 1900. Rosa Jung stars as one of the lone actresses of Asian descent in a cast of yellowface performances.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Rosenstock, Martin. “China Past, China Present: The Boxer Rebellion in Gerhard Seyfried’s Yellow Wind (2008).” In Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia, edited by Qinna Shen und Martin Rosenstock, 115-136. New York: Berghahn Books, 2014.
      2. Gerber, Lydia. “Working with Disaster: Weimar Mission Responses to the Boxer Catastrophe (1900-1901).” In Transnational Encounters between Germany and East Asia since 1900, edited by Joanne Miyang Cho, 45-61. New York: Routledge, 2018.
  • China—Land zwischen gestern und morgen (China—A Country Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, Joop Huisken and Robert Menegoz, 1956), available on Progress.film (without subtitles)
    • An award-winning ethnographic documentary co-produced by DEFA and Chinese film studios and shot in color, the film aims to convey a positive image of the GDR’s new political ally in the Far East by comparing the misery and economic backwardness of farmers, workers, artisans, and engineers in feudal China with the new professional opportunities and political freedom they gained after the founding of the new People’s Republic. This film can be used to examine the GDR’s early attempts at cultural diplomacy, postcolonial experiences, and life in the early Mao era.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. 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.
      2. 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, 219-242. New York: Berghahn, 2015.
      3. 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.
      4. 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Exil Shanghai (Exile Shanghai, Ulrike Ottinger, 1997), available on DVD
    • 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): 247-263.
      2. Villarejo, Amy. “Archiving the Diaspora: A Lesbian Impression of/in Ulrike Ottinger’s Exile Shanghai.” New German Critique 87 (2002): 157-191.
      3. 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.
      4. Zhou, Qingyang. “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/.
  • Shanghai Ghetto (Dana Janklowicz-Mann and Amir Mann, 2002), available on Amazon and YouTube
    • A documentary film about Jewish exile in Shanghai featuring interviews with Shanghailanders as well as with historians researching the topic. 
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. 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.
      2. Hochstadt, Steve. Shanghai-Geschichten: Die jüdische Flucht nach China. Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich, 2007.
      3. Hochstadt, Steve. Exodus to Shanghai: Stories of Escape from the Third Reich. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
      4. 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): 113-138.
      5. 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.
      6. 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.
      7. 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/.
      8. Pscheiden, Daniela, and Danielle Spera, eds. Die Wiener in China: Fluchtpunkt Shanghai. Little Vienna in Shanghai. Vienna: Amalthea Verlag, 2020.
      9. 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.
  • 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
    • 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 and Alexander Street (institutional subscription needed)
    • 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. 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): 176-199.
      2. 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, 210-222. New York: Routledge, 2014.
      3. 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.
  • 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.

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): 555–561.
      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, 167-181. 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, 157-168. 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, 456-467. London: British Film Institute, 2020.
  • Das indische Grabmal (The Indian Tomb, Fritz Lang,1959), available on Amazon, and its sequel, Der Tiger von Eschnapur (The Tiger of Eschnapur, Fritz Lang, 1959), available on MUBI and Amazon
    • Das indische Grabmal and Der Tiger von Eschnapur were Fritz Lang’s last works, made after the director had returned to Germany from a decade-long exile in the United States. After separate releases in Germany, these two films were combined into a film titled Journey to the Lost City and released in 1960 by American International Pictures (available on Amazon). Both films were written by Thea von Harbou and co-produced with India, and both feature German actors in brownface performance.
    • 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). Accessed 13 April, 2021. 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, 275-285. 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. 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.
      7. 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, 122-136. Munich: Edition Text + Kritik, 2019.

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. 207-236.
      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

  • 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. New York: Berghahn, 2005. 103-137.
  • 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. 253-273.
      2. The DVD also comes with a 48 page booklet
  • Patong Girl (Susanna Salonen, 2014), available on DVD
    • This Grimme Prize-winning film is unique for its trans representation of Thai woman Fai (played by Aisawanya Areyawattana), who falls in love with a German tourist. Fortunately, the film does not have a tragic ending. It is suitable for transnational film courses, as well as those on queer and trans studies.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Fitzpatrick, Zach Ramon. “Zachs Geheimtipps zur neuen asiatisch deutschen Repräsentation im Film.” korientation. January 8, 2021. https://www.korientation.de/zachs-geheimtipps-zur-neuen-asiatisch-deutschen-repraesentation-im-film/.

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: Vietnamesische Diaspora and Beyond, edited by Kien Nghi Ha, 258-269. Berlin: Assoziation A, 2012.
      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): 855-880.
  • Endstation der Sehnsüchte: Ein deutsches Dorf in Südkorea (Home from Home / 독일 마을, Sung-Hyung Cho, 2009)
    • 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. 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.
      2. 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.
  • Die koreanische Hochzeitstruhe (The Korean Wedding Chest, Ulrike Ottinger, 2009), available on DVD
    • 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): 176-199.
      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.
  • Meine Brüder und Schwestern im Norden (My Brothers and Sisters in the North/북녘의 내 형제 자매들, Sung-Hyung Cho, 2016), available on YouTube, Vimeo, and Amazon
    • As the first South Korean director to film in North Korea by way of her German passport, Sung-Hyung Cho portrays the daily lives of a middle-class family in Pyongyang, farmers at an agricultural collective, and female workers at a textile factory. The film evokes a strong desire for Korean unification and calls for its comparison with German reunification. It is particularly suitable for courses on Cold War culture in Germany and Korea.
    • 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. 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.
      3. 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.
      4. 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.
  • 택시운전사 (A Taxi Driver, Hun Jang, 2017), widely available for streaming
    • Starring Song Kang-ho (of Parasite, 2019) and Thomas Kretschmann, A Taxi Driver adapts the true story of a German journalist who clandestinely reported on the Gwangju uprising in 1980 with the help of a Korean taxi driver. The film offers unique insights into international solidarity at the grassroots level from the Korean perspective.
    • Secondary criticism:
      1. Hinzpeter, Jürgen. “An Eyewitness Report of the Kwangju Citizen’s Uprising in 1980.” In Kwangju in the Eyes of the World, edited by the Journalists Association of Korea, 29–52. Seoul: Pulbit, 1997.
      2. Scott-Stokes, Henry, and Jai Eui Lee, eds. The Kwangju Uprising: Eyewitness Accounts of Korea’s Tiananmen. Armonk NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2000.
      3. Shin, Gi-Wook, and Kyung Moon Hwang, eds. Contentious Kwangju: The May 18 Uprising in Korea’s Past and Present. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.
      4. Kim, Hang. “The Commemoration of the Gwangju Uprising: of the Remnants in the Nation State’s Historical Memory.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 12, no. 4 (2011): 611–24.
      5. Katsiaficas, George. Asia’s Unknown Uprisings Volume 1: South Korean Social Movements in the 20th Century. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2012.
      6. Jackson, Andrew David. “Jürgen Hinzpeter and Foreign Correspondents in the 1980 Kwangju Uprising.” International Journal of Asian Studies 17 (2020): 19-37.
  • Eine Postkarte aus Pjöngjang: Reise durch Nordkorea (A Postcard from Pyongyang—Traveling through North Korea, Gregor Möllers and Anne Lewald, 2019), available on Vimeo
    • 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. Der Fehlende Part, “‘Es gibt keine Logik in Nordkorea’—Filmemacher Anne Lewald und Gregor Möllers,” YouTube, February 5, 2020, video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEY82UxOW54.

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.
  • Die Tochter des Samurai (The Samurai’s Daughter/新しき土, Arnold Fanck, 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. Haukamp, Iris. A Foreigner’s Cinematic Dream of Japan: Representational Politics and Shadows of War in the Japanese-German Coproduction New Earth (1937). London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020.
      3. 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.
      4. 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.
      5. Law, Ricky W. “Japan in Films.” In Transnational Nazism: Ideology and Culture in German-Japanese Relations, 1919-1936, 204-234. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2019.
      6. 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.
  • 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, 201-223. 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, 118-137. 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, 210-226. New York: Berghahn, 2016.
  • 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, 103-150. 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, 269-288. 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 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): 176-199.
      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
    • 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.
  • Family Romance, LLC (Werner Herzog, 2019), available on Amazon (MUBI) 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.

Other

  • Die goldene Jurte (The Golden Yurt, Gottfried Kolditz and Rabschaa Dordschpalam, 1961), available on DVD via the DEFA Film Library and Progress.film (without subtitles)
    • 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. “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.
  • Nordsee ist Mordsee (North Sea is Dead Sea, Hark Bohm, 1976), available on DVD
    • 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.
  • Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia (Joan of Arc of Mongolia, Ulrike Ottinger, 1989), available on DVD
    • 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): 124-136.
      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, 147-164. 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, 103-115. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.
      6. Davidson, John E. “Railing against Convention, or Camping Out in Mongolia: The Performative Dispacements of Ulrike Ottinger’s Johanna D’Arc of Mongolia.” In Deterritorializing the New German Cinema, 107-153. 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): 174-188.
  • 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.
  • Schau mich nicht so an (Don’t Look at Me That Way, Uisenma Borchu, 2015), available on Amazon (IndiePix), DVD
  • Tschick (Goodbye Berlin, Fatih Akin, 2016), available on DVD (English subtitles), 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. Gueneli, Berna. Fatih Akin’s Cinema and the New Sound of Europe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019.
      2. 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. New York: Routledge, 2021.

Qingyang Zhou is a PhD candidate in German at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her BA degree in German, Cinema and Media Studies, and Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the literary and cinematic entanglements between East/West Germany, China, and North/South Korea during the Cold War and beyond. She has presented research on Asian-German studies at the annual conferences of GSA, NeMLA, and Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

Zach Ramon Fitzpatrick is a Mellon-CES fellow and PhD candidate in Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research focuses on German film and Asian-German studies. He has been a guest author for Korientation.de, a Berlin-based organization and network for Asian-German perspectives. He also runs the Instagram account “Asian German Updates,” 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-century German culture, with an emphasis on visual studies and Sino-German relations. 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. She is currently working on two book projects: “Jiny Lan and the Art of Subversion: A Chinese-German Cultural Encounter” and “Film and Cold War Diplomacy: China and the Two Germanys, 1949–1989.”

About Qingyang Freya Zhou

Qingyang Zhou (Freya) is a PhD candidate in German Studies at UC Berkeley. She researches on the intersections of German-Asian cultures, particularly as they pertain to the cinematic entanglements among Germany, China, and Korea.
This entry was posted in Archives of Migration, Blog, Filmography, Project Updates (Home Page). Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *