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Film Screening + Q&A "Die Sonneninsel/The Sun Island" | MC with Thomas Elsaesser

Film screening of "The Sun Island"

with subsequent Q&A-session with director Prof. Dr. Thomas Elsaesser

July 4, 19:30, Kinocenter Gießen (Bahnhofstraße 34, 35390 Gießen)


The Sun Island is an essay film about coincidences, shattered lives and posthumous fame. A found footage family film about love and passion, friendship and heartbreak set in Frankfurt and Berlin between the wars (1927-1935), during WWII and into the present. It includes the history of the Frankfurt Großmarkthalle (Central Market) – a landmark building of the International Style – before and after its acquisition by the European Central Bank, as part of its new headquarters. But The Sun Island is also a film about the origins of the green movement: about recycling, sus­tainability, and living off the grid – before these ideas had been properly invented.

more information and tickets here



MC: Trapped in Amber: The New Materialities of (Media-)Memory

Thomas Elsaesser

July 5, 10:00, Phil I, GCSC, R.001


The term ‘obsolescence’ has in recent years re-entered the vocabulary of the art world, of memory studies and of new media historians. In the process, it has significantly changed its meaning and enlarged its semantic and evaluative range. From being a wholly negative term within a technicist discourse, it became a critical term when consumerism was attacked for ‘planned obsolescence’. Now obsolescence has shifted into the realm of the positive, signifying something like heroic resistance to the relentless ‘new-ness’ and superficial novelty of electronic gadgets (but also of ideas). Obsolescence has become the badge of honour for all that is no longer useful (to capitalism, to commodification and instrumentalisation) and therefore resists even ‘appropriation’.

Anyone engaged with ‘found footage’, with home movies or our analogue cinematic legacy and technology, can appreciate that the strategic use of obsolescence lies in the fact that, being a term that inevitably associates both capitalism and technology, it is of special interest to the art world, to documentary filmmaking and to media archaeology: confined and defined as these practices now are by capitalism and technology. But obsolescence also gives us another outlook on what has become of the filmic ‘medium’ itself, when we see it in the broader context of ‘geological’ time as well as within the materialist turn that memory studies have taken in the 21st century.

The class will be held in English.


// Thomas Elsaesser is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Media and Culture of the University of Amsterdam. From 2006 to 2012 he was Visiting Professor at Yale and since 2013 he teaches part-time at Columbia University. Author and editor of some twenty books, his work has been translated into most European and several Asian languages. Among his recent books are German Cinema - Terror and Trauma: Cultural Memory Since 1945 (New York: Routledge, 2013), Film Theory – An Introduction through the Senses (with Malte Hagener, 2nd revised edition, New York: Routledge, 2015 [in German: Film Theorie: Zur Einführung, Junius 2010), Körper, Tod und Technik (with Michael Wedel, Paderborn: Konstanz University Press, 2016), Film History as Media Archaeology (Amsterdam University Press, 2016) and European Cinema and Continental Philosophy: Film as Thought Experiment (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).

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