Territorial Appeals in Post-Wall German Filmmaking: The Case of Good Bye, Lenin!



Abstract:  How do institutions, markets, and stakeholders influence what stories are feasible and profitable for filmmakers to tell? This article discusses appeals to territorial interest and identity in filmmaking in post-wall Germany and the conditions that shape them. By tracing the emergence of the film Good Bye, Lenin! (2003), we see how the project accumulated support from some territories and not others; how filmmakers persuaded colleagues and critics of their interpretation's legitimacy; and how individuals and institutions shape how the film would be used and remembered. My objective is to draw attention to the messiness and uncertainty as multiple stakeholders align, contest, or subsume competing appeals that would be otherwise invisible in a “finished” film. Addressing those interested in the geopolitics of cultural production, the article argues for more attention to the behind-the-scenes negotiations in funding, production, and distribution processes in order to keep issues of power and dependence visible.