The Berlinale and the Federal Center for Political Education (Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung) used the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Socialist German Student Association’s conference on Vietnam in Berlin to show a series of films about the Vietnam War. Journalist Ralph Eue curated a programme on the ’68 movement in the Amerikahaus in May, 2008, in which part of the programme is repeated. Jan Schütte, who at the time of this interview with Ralph Eue, was presenting his latest film at Sundance, selected the films for the Berlinale programme.
The series is comprised solely of films from the US. Wouldn’t it have been just as interesting to show films from an Asian or German perspective?
A decisive factor for selection was that after Vietnam the war continued at home in the US – hence the title. The war triggered something pretty uncontrollable in the bodies, souls and hearts of those who were in Vietnam. Many returned to America as ticking time-bombs. The series wants to show this special American experience and perspective through four features and documentaries, which are not only representative, but – and this is a totally different reason for their selection – they haven’t been seen in our cinemas for a long time.
Surely, the selection process wasn’t easy, as there are a substantial number of films about Vietnam.
Therefore we imposed an additional limitation by deciding to take a cross-section of the time when the war was still going on through to the later post-war period. The original idea was to provide a cross-section over time, reaching into the present, in order to emphasise how long this problem has affected America.
Vietnam movies have almost developed into their own genre, though not in the classical sense. Nonetheless, in the 1970s there were an unbelievable number of films that addressed this issue – even if with very different approaches.