Following Welcome Mr. Marshall (2004) and Winning the Peace (2005), the film series Selling Democracy, which was conceived for three years, will come to an end at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival. In 2006 the last part of the series, entitled Friendly Persuasion, will focus on Western Europe’s transformation after World War II, a transformation brought about by its emulation of the “American way of life”.
The main emphasis of Selling Democracy III – Friendly Persuasion is to present cinematic reflections of the radical changes affecting daily life – in this context the keywords are rapid modernisation and mechanisation. Perceived as “Americanisation”, this topic was broached on the screen in diverse ways, not least in comedies. Although examples also exist from the GDR and the USSR in which the USA’s presence in Europe is denounced for propaganda reasons. West German films rarely touch upon this aspect, but when they do it is with an undercurrent of scepticism.
“The Americanisation of Europe is not only a topos of cultural pessimism; for a large section of the population it is also the warmly welcomed reality of the post-war years,” states Rainer Rother, curator of Selling Democracy III. The last part of the Berlinale series will concentrate on full-length features that illuminate Europe’s transformation. During the retrospective, films like Jacques Tati’s Jour de Fête (1947), Charles Crichton’s The Battle of the Sexes (1959) or Billy Wilder’s One Two Three (1961) will be shown. Documentary films – Marshall Plan productions, as well as expressly anti Marshall Plan films – will be screened before each feature.
Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick remarks: “Again, in its third and final programme, Selling Democracy promises to be a gripping exploration of Europe’s political reorientation after World War II. Alongside democratisation, the Marshall Plan helped set the course for the cultural direction taken by many countries.”
To wrap up the Selling Democracy project, the Federal Center for Political Education (Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung) will release a DVD edition in collaboration with its partners for the retrospective – the Berlinale, the German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum) and the Federal Film Archive (Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv). The DVD is intended for use in schools and will present in film a view that goes beyond the immediate Marshall Plan era.
25 November 2005