Peter Fleischmann is a rare event. Rare in every sense; his films possess a manic intensity that courses through his images and leaps off the screen; he is a unique voice amongst the chroniclers of the social issues and ills endemic to postwar Europe; truly a European director, he made films with the great talents of the time, spanning countries from Italy to Greece to France to Germany; he even shot a political thriller in the dying days of Greek Junta. And rare in another sense: for all these accomplishments, Fleischmann is one of the most criminally under-seen filmmakers to come out of New German Cinema. In addition to screening a selection of his films, Fleischmann will present a masterclass on his work. SIFF is honored to present Flesichmann’s works— classics of the cinema of Cracking Up.
Peter Fleischmann was born in 1937 in the city of Zweibrücken, close to the German-French border. His first film, Mayfly (Die Eintagsfliege, 1958), was screened at the 1958 Experimental Film Festival in Brussels, and led him to a scholarship at the IDHEC (Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques) in Paris. His first feature film, The Hunters are the Hunted (Jagdszenen aus Niederbayern, 1969) was an international success and led to a renewal of the “Heimatfilm” (“Homeland cinema”) genre in Germany. His next film, Havoc (Das Unheil) was shown in the official selection of the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. With Dorotheas Rache / Dorothea’s Revenge, a parody of German pornography, he began his cooperation with French script writer Jean-Claude Carrière. They also worked together on the film La Faille (Der Dritte Grad, 1975) with Michel Piccoli, Ugo Tognazzi and Mario Adorf, based on the novel by Antonis Samarakis. In The Hamburger Syndrome (Die Hamburger Krankheit, 1979), a surreal and visionary science-fiction film, Peter Fleischmann developed his concern with devastation of the environment – as he had done in Havoc. Sacrilege (Frevel) then focused on the “amour fou” between a detective and a criminal. Hard to Be a God (On Es ist nicht leicht ein Gott zu sein, 1989) was a science fiction film shot in the Soviet Union, based on the novel by the Strugatzki brothers.