Fokus Fernsehen Thomas Schadt
3 Nov 23–6 May 24
‘Nothing is more exciting than reality.’ Thomas Schadt’s oeuvre, which makes up over 50 films, demonstrates that he is one of Germany’s most important documentary filmmakers. His career as a cameraman, award-winning director, writer and producer from 1982 to 2019 documents the everyday and historical, delving into the lives of German chancellors, the unemployed and computer geeks – and returns to Berlin again and again. In this retrospective in particular, his works become striking documents of historical periods that capture not only the zeitgeist of an era but of a nation.
Visitors to the exhibition at the Deutsche Kinemathek are able to view nearly all of Thomas Schadt’s documentaries in their full length and view selected exhibits from his production archive. Five viewing islands in the Television Media Library provide an in-depth view of various recurring themes in the documentary filmmaker’s oeuvre.
It includes a look at how Germany has processed its past and present, and its social transformation. As well as offering the perspective of ordinary people and their everyday lives, Thomas Schadt repeatedly focussed on the political scene and the powerful players in it, such as former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Berlin was often his backdrop. Sometimes Schadt roamed the city as a poetic observer, sometimes as a chronicler of the city’s changing face. He also went behind the scenes of the work of Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick, FC Bayern and investor Donald Trump, while elsewhere and no less spectacularly, he showed the everyday life of job seekers, emergency service workers and teachers. In many of his films, he shed light on the reality of the younger generation’s lives.
The majority of those who appeared in front of the camera to answer questions were men. A specially created 67-minute compilation of Schadt’s films reflects on male imagery in his work. Entitled ‘Männerbilder des späten 20. Jahrhunderts’ (Images of Men in the Late 20th Century), this compilation, which can be seen on the sixth viewing island, demonstrated how much the views of his protagonists were determined not just by their work and status, but also by prevailing gender roles at the time of filming.
The media installation ‘Berlin Sinfonien’ (Berlin Symphonies) featuring Berlin films by Walther Ruttmann (1927), Thomas Schadt (2002) and Johannes Schaff (2018) will be shown parallel to the ‘Fokus Fernsehen Thomas Schadt’ at the Deutsche Kinemathek from 3 November 2023 to 6 May 2024.