People On Sunday 2010

Joint SUMMER SCHOOL of the UCLA Film School and the ifs internationale filmschule köln

The Films and Life of Billy Wilder I

Prof. Jan-Christopher Horak and Prof. Gundolf S. Freyermuth: Screening and Close Analysis of  “A Foreign Affair” (1948), Colloquium June 23, 2 pm – 4 pm.

In the afternoon, we screened Bill Wilder’s A FOREIGN AFFAIR (1948), a film that takes place in Berlin after World War II, starring Marlene Dietrich, which features many locations shot in Berlin in ruins. In our discussion we talked about the way Wilder, then a successful Hollywood director, plays with both German and American stereotypes about the other country.

Filming a City

Prof. Lisa Gotto: Lecture, June 23, 11:45 am – 1 pm.

Every city is constructed, conventionally created by us. It does not exist as a clear cut container, rather it is the product of a way of putting things together. Look at a door, a building, a facade or a road sign; listen to steps, a shout or a car engine: these random sensory impressions are the things of the city. Thus, if we think of the city, we imagine space as directly lived through its associated images and symbols. But what does it mean for the camera to enter this kind of space? When the camera lays its eye on the city, it is preoccupied with the visions and the cultural dynamics of signs, objects and their signification in urban areas. And even more than that: The camera overlays physical space. It does not only make symbolic use of its objects, it is also able to detect what has been previously unseen.

Film does not just circulate images and sounds – it constitutes new subjects and subjectivities. It does not only show things or bring them to optical consciousness, but it opens up hitherto unperceived modes of sensory perception and experience. And by doing so, film becomes able to suggest a different organization of the daily world.

The lecture suggests that we should not think of the city as some kind of pre-existing core which comes to be rendered on screen. Rather, we should be aware of the complexity of urban-filmic interdependencies. This kind of complexity is everything from an actual location to an imaginary part of cultural memory. It is everything from cinematography to cartography. Since symbolic systems of signification direct our experiences and understanding of reality, cinema provides the map for exploring the city – a map which is so detailed that it covers the territory it represents.

Robert Siodmak and Film Noir

Prof. Jan-Christopher Horak: Seminar, June 23, 10 am – 11:45 am.

Wednesday’s lectures started with my presentation on American film noir and the role of German émigré directors, like Fritz Lang, Robert Siodmak, and Edgar G. Ulmer in creating that genre. In fact, we can see a direct connection between the crime films of the German Expressionist cinema and the American private eye movie in the work of these directors that goes beyond high contrast lighting and oblique camera angles to an atmosphere of dark fatalism and despair.

People on Sunday – The Screening

June 22, 7 pm – 10 pm.

On June 22, the second day of our Summer School, we had a public screening of People on Sunday, the original movie in its latest restored version. Though there was a soccer game being broadcast at the same time, the screening in the cinema of the Museum Ludwig draw quite an audience.

Most of them stayed on for a short video introducing the young filmmakers who are now trying to portrait city life in Cologne following in the footsteps of the brothers Curt and Robert Siodmak, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann und Edgar Ulmer who 80 years ago captured city life in Berlin.

That night, some of the participants experienced the film for the first time as it was meant to be seen: on a big movie screen. The panel discussion between all participating professors showed: Everybody was very much impressed by the surprising modernity of this silent semi-documentary.

From left to right: Prof. Lisa Gotto (ifs), Prof. Jan-Christopher Horak (UCLA), Prof. Becky Smith (UCLA), Prof. Gerd Haag (ifs), Prof. Hans-Erich Viet (ifs), Prof. Gundolf S. Freyermuth (ifs)

The Films and Life of Edgar G. Ulmer

Prof. Lisa Gotto: Screening and Close Analysis of Detour (USA 1945), June 22, 2 pm – 4 pm.

Edgar G. Ulmer was the “King of the Bs”, the “King of Poverty Row” – a director whose work was shaped by the confines of economic constraints. If you examine his films, you will discover a labyrinth: you will run into mysteries, you will be faced with oddities. Ulmer’s films look dirty, rough and shaky; they seem to be full of mistakes. However, they often come closer to truth or authenticity than Hollywood’s illusions. By dramatising fissure and fragment on a formal level, Ulmer succeeded to create a particular brand of filmmaking; a style recognizable even in the cheapest of cheapies.

Detour, one of Ulmer’s most celebrated movies, is a film that plays with its own restrictions. Tending to ignore virtually all laws of standard Hollywood perfection, it delineates an idiosyncratic vision for that which strives against the accepted.

Robert Siodmak and the Weimar Filmindustry

Prof. Jan-Christopher Horak: Seminar June 22, 10 am – 11:30 am:

Our second day started with my seminar on the history of the Weimar film industry, in order to place the production of PEOPLE ON SUNDAY into the proper historical context for the students. I was surprised that most of the German film students knew as little about Weimar cinema and history as the American students.

The Films and Life of Robert Siodmak

Prof. Jan-Christopher Horak: Screening and close analysis of Cry of the City (1948), June 21, 2 pm – 4 pm.

After lunch, we screened Robert Siodmak’s CRY OF THE CITY (1948), starring Victor Mature. CITY is a film noir, but also a city film about New York. As we discovered, Siodmak actually remade a shot from PEOPLE ON SUNDAY in CRY OF THE CITY. A productive discussion followed about the film’s moral ambiguity, so unlike American classical Hollywood narrative and so much like German films from the 1920s.

German Filmmakers in Exile

Prof. Jan-Christopher Horak: Lecture, June 21, 11:45 am – 1 pm

In the next session, was dedicated to German speaking Jewish exiles in Hollywood, in order to provide a context for the week’s work to follow. As I told the students, over 1500 writers, directors, producers and other film workers were forced to leave Berlin, due to Hitler’s anti-Semitic blacklist. Interestingly, neither the German nor American students had any idea that some of Hollywood’s most famous directors were German born.

People on Sunday – How We Saw It, How We See It.

Close and Personal Readings.Establishing a common ground. June 21, 10 am – 11:30 am.

Prof. Jan-Christopher Horak:

21 June, 10 AM, which happens to be 1 AM (California time), according to my body clock, and I’m standing in front of a group of eager film students. We are doing a one week academic seminar in and around PEOPLE ON SUNDAY to prepare five German film students (from the IFS) and five American film students from UCLA to spend the next five weeks making a film, which will be a portrait of Cologne, the way PEOPLE was a portrait of Berlin in 1929.

We started the morning with an initial discussion of the film, made by Billy Wilder, Edgar Ulmer, Robert and Curt Siodmak, Eugene Schuefftan, Fred Zinnemann, and Seymour Nebenzahl, all of whom were exiled from Germany in 1933 and had high profile (or less substantial) Hollywood careers. Along with Prof. Gundolf Freyermuth (ifs) and Prof. Lisa Gotto (ifs), we discuss the incredible modernity of MENSCHEN AM SONNTAG, given its non-plot and hand-held camera, its amateur actors and documentary views of a vibrant city.

The Filmmakers – A Video Introduction

People on Sunday 2010 – The Filmmakers from Gundolf Freyermuth on Vimeo.

This video was first shown on June 22, 2010 at Museum Ludwig, Cologne, after a screening of “People on Sunday”. You can find more on this event here.

Short Description

The joint Summer School of the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) and the ifs internationale filmschule köln brings together young American and German filmmakers - directors, producers, cinematographers. In mixed German-American teams they are shooting several shorts about city life in Cologne.


June 2010
    Jul »



    From the UCLA:
    Lucas Mireless, 2nd Year Director
    Iliana Sosa, Director
    Jeanne Tyson, 3rd Year Director of Photography
    Leigh Underwood, 2nd Year Director of Photography
    Ryan Slattery, Producer

    From the ifs:
    Nancy Mac Granaky-Quaye, Director
    Johannes F. Sievert, Director
    Christopher Becker, Producer

    From the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts:
    Nina Frey, Director of Photography
    Jens Nolte, Director of Photography

    'Making Of' of the Project:
    Paul Pieck
    Nicole Schmeier


    ifs internationale filmschule köln gmbh
    Schanzenstraße 28
    51063 Köln

    T +49 (0) 221 - 92 01 88 - 0
    F +49 (0) 221 - 92 01 88 - 99

    Geschäftsführung: Simone Stewens, Rainer Weiland

    Amtsgericht Köln | HRB 32573