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Edgar Reitz in 2006

Edgar Reitz(born November 1, 1932) in Morbach, Hunsrück) is a German filmmaker and Professor of Film at the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung (State University of Design) in Karlsruhe.


Early life and education

Reitz was born in Morbach, Hunsrück. His father Robert was a watchmaker and his business in Morbach was later taken over by Reitz's brother Guido. Reitz's interest in acting and producing plays began in his school years in Simmern, where he was encouraged by his German teacher Karl Windhäuser. After taking his Abitur, he studied German studies, journalism, art history and theatre studies in Munich from 1952. His first experiences in film-making however were not theoretical; he worked as a camera, editing, and production assistant from 1953.

Institut für Filmgestaltung

In 1963 along with Alexander Kluge he founded the Institut für Filmgestaltung (Institute for Film Design) which was affiliated to the Ulm School of Design, where he taught film directing and camera theory until the School of Design closed in 1968. As part of the group around Kluge, Reitz was a participant in the Oberhausen Manifesto which was announced at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival of 1962. With this manifesto young German filmmakers demanded nothing less than a new form of cinema: "Der alte Film ist tot. Wir glauben an den neuen." ("The old film is dead. We believe in the new film"). The manifesto is associated with the motto "Papas Kino ist tot" ("Papa's cinema is dead"). Subsequently the concept of the auteur gained in popularity in Germany, and Reitz played a significant role in shaping this concept in the following years.


Reitz received one of his first awards for his film Mahlzeiten which was awarded the prize for best debut work at the Venice Film Festival in 1967. In 1971 he founded Edgar Reitz Filmproduktion (ERF) in Munich. He now began to collaborate on films with his former academic colleague Alexander Kluge amongst them the 1974 fictitious documentary In Gefahr und größter Not bringt der Mittelweg den Tod. The lavish production costs of the 1978 film The Tailor of Ulm, which portrays the downfall of the aviation pioneer Albrecht Berblinger, caused Reitz's own financial circumstances to take a tumble. It was during this crisis that the idea for a film project about his homeland, the Hunsrück, first came to Reitz. What began as an attempt at self-discovery, ultimately broadened out into the Heimat trilogy (from 1984), which met with critical acclaim, an enthusiastic international audience, and numerous prizes. With this epic and monumental production, Reitz achieved a quite new perspective, an approach, both poetical and realistic, to the past of Germany as it might have played out in the provinces.

In 2004 Reitz was awarded the Carl Zuckmayer Medal by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate for his life's work. Reitz is married to the singer and actress Salome Kammer (who appeared in Heimats 2 and 3) and lives in Munich.


This article is derived principally from the German Wikipedia article of the same name and the sources listed there.

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