Masaryk University, Tschechien
E-Mail: skopal [at] phil.muni.cz
Pavel Skopal researches during his stay at the ZZF in Department III "Contemporary History of the Media and Information Society" on the subject:
Looking for a Trustable Partner. DEFA International Film Co-productions, 1954-1989
The research project focuses on DEFA international film co-productions from 1954, when the first East-German international co-production was implemented, to the collapse of the state socialist regimes in Europe. Any international co-production is a “symbolic intervention” of a kind. Each of them activate a cluster of political, cultural, aesthetic, economic, and technological issues which demand a “transnational” solution, acceptable for the (at least) two partners. This makes cold-war era co-productions valuable objects of research, which are surprisingly under-researched on the whole. In fact, it is almost untouched by a bottom-up approach that would analyse the co-operating production cultures and persistence of their co-operations through individual decisions, pragmatic alliances, or the perceived cultural affinities of the involved agents. Through the research on co-productions we can recognize more general patterns of successful cultural and economic cooperation between European countries on the continent divided by the Iron Curtain. The project intends to expose the important and so far quite misunderstood role of individual actors in the state-socialist cinema industry – and, in effect, to reach a better understanding of the significance of these individuals in cultivating transnational contacts as well as for maintaining a continuity of values within socialist dictatorships.
The project intends to analyse the practice of co-production on various levels of agency: the motivation of individual filmmakers and practitioners (directors, scriptwriters, cameramen, choreographs, etc.), and their value and “trustworthiness” for the foreign partner and the foreign film industry; the role of dramaturges and dramaturgical groups in the launching and specification of the projects; the strategies of the studio heads; or the motives of the party and governmental functionaries. The concepts of risk and societal trusts will be used for differentiating the levels of agency and analysing the motives of the agents. Case studies on individual agents (dramaturges, directors, scriptwriters) will research on the agents´ material and nonmaterial resources and schemas, as well as on the way compatibility of the schemas with the foreign studio´s standards made co-productions efficient.