Ortelsburg – Szczytno. Es war einmal in Masuren, 1990, Peter Goedel (© Reinhard Köcher)

The Unknown Masterpiece
Homage to Peter Goedel

August 3 to 7, 2022

Peter Goedel is one of the great unknowns of German film. For almost 50 years, he has worked as a director and producer, active alternately in cinema and TV. He has made documentaries, news reports, and TV movies, as well as educational films and essays, and a handful of features. For those of us in the audience, he proposes a horizon spanning from politically conscious literary adaptations to precise observations of cinema's handworkers and the mother of all casting shows. Some of his works – like Talentprobe (1980) and the compilation film he produced, Rendezvous unterm Nierentisch (1987) – are classics, while others – like Ortelsburg/Szczynto. Es war einmal in Masuren (1990) – are ripe for rediscovery, and some – like his clever Filmtips for the WDR – are already lost.
The film critic Peter Nau has rendered his services for many years to the rediscovery of Goedel’s varied creations. He calls the auteur-filmmaker, with his strong affinity for literature and music, a "poetic researcher of the highest rank in so far as film as film makes stands out in his work. The life of the films in themselves can always be felt. 'Still, I'm painting an image, not a chair,' said Schoenberg. The stylistic purity of Goedel's films mirrors his outlook and perception of all things human, social, and public."
Born in 1943 in Torgau an der Elbe, Goedel grew up in East German Halle an der Saale and Potsdam. After Abitur, he fled with his parents and brother to the West where he studied literature and drama, art history, and philosophy in Stuttgart, Cologne, and Munich. He trained as an actor, appeared on stage and in small TV roles, took jobs as a dramatist and assistant director in theater, and directed his first plays, including Brecht's Man Equals Man. In the mid 1970s, he became a freelancer, author, and director for TV, especially of cultural and film productions. In 1978, Goedel founded his own production company in Munich, specializing in films covering cultural topics. Its first independently financed work for cinema was the documentary Talentprobe.
This "true piece of German ethnography" (Süddeutsche Zeitung) provides the starting point of the homage The Unknown Masterpiece, for which we have together with the filmmaker selected nine of his works, about a third of his oeuvre. The focus is on his years long engagement with the work of the author Wolfgang Koeppen, a wonderful encounter with Elias Canetti, who later won the Nobel Prize for literature, as well as two portraits of skilled craftsmen that deal with cinema itself. In the end, we come back to the starting point with a Zugabe to Talentprobe, in which we re-encounter the hopeful Schlager stars of the past. (Michael Omasta, Brigitte Mayr / Translation: Ted Fendt)
In collaboration with SYNEMA-Gesellschaft für Film und Medien.
This Special Focus will take place in the presence of Peter Goedel.
The SYNEMA publication Das Unbekannte Meisterwerk by Peter Nau was published in 2018. It contains elegant observations on Peter Goedel's films as well as many photos and a detailed filmography.    
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