On the death of film historian Ralph Schenk

sAlf Shenk was a calm sovereign man. He didn’t have to pretend because what he knew was important. His importance as a film historian and journalist arose from a tremendous knowledge not only of cinema history, but also of the conditions of the era, literary theory and music. In sympathetic Thuringian language, he was able to speak of Anna Segers’ closeness to Nouveau Roman in France as well as of similarities in the use of film music by Christian Petzold and Alfred Hitchcock. Schenk was born on March 27, 1956 in Arnstadt, and knew the works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Egon Günther, Costa Javras, André Waida, Dennis Huber and Eldar Ragasan. This knowledge also enabled him to engage in controversy.

When Volker Schlöndorff’s “Strike” about the workers’ uprising in the Gdansk shipyard “Lenin” was released in cinemas in 2007, Schenk wrote in “Berliner Zeitung”: the conditions and transformations of real socialist Polish society, but viewed only from the end, since its downfall. It is a non-dialectical film. propaganda film.” Schenk joked about Katrina Talbach as the “positive heroine” Agnieszka, who pins her hopes on Pope John Paul II: “At this moment, Agnieszka Katharina Talbach is reminded less of a mother’s courage and more of a kind than Ernestine Thielmann, the leader her class, who remembers his very own Sun Lenin’s payment. ”

Schenk knew Defa’s propaganda film “Ernst Thälmann – FührerHis Class” well – unlike Schlöndorff, Defa’s chief liquidator after the end of the GDR, who was honored in 2008: “Abolished the name ‘Diva’, Deva – the films were terrible. In That time in Paris, where I was studying, they were showing only in the Communist Party cinema. We went there and laughed. The name should go. In Diva everything went smoothly. “

On the other hand, Schenk took Deva’s legacy seriously: Gunther’s intricate and intricate stories, daring modern women’s films, and subversive political cinema for children and young adults. After 1990 he published record works on feature production, documentary, and animated films for the East German Film Society, and published books on female directors and taboo films. Schenk was involved in the reconstruction of several films that withdrew the leadership of the SED party from circulation.

From 2012 to 2020, Schenk finally took over the management of the Diva Foundation, interviewed eyewitnesses, and went on to digitize the film’s legacy and published a beautifully designed book in 2019 marking the 75th birthday of documentarian Volker Koepp. But Shank was more interested than Deva. He was a member of the Feature Film Selection Committee for the Berlinale for fifteen years, curated screenings at the Documentary Film Festival in Leipzig and served on the Film Advisory Board at the Goethe-Institut.

In addition to cinema, his great love was musical theater. He hardly missed any of the premieres in Berlin; He and his wife regularly went to the opera on trips abroad and in Berlin appreciated the delicious cuisine of “Cochon bourgeois”.

As Diva Now reports, Ralph Schenk died in Berlin on August 17 after a short and serious illness. He was 66 years old.

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