What is the project?
Alfred Weiner’s Film-Kurier is one of the most quoted periodicals in Weimar film studies, but it is also one of the least accessible. Lotte Eisner and Willy Haas were among the notable writers and editors who contributed to this Berlin newspaper. It was the only daily trade paper for film in Weimar Germany.
Using CineGraph’s Film-Kurier-Index and information compiled in his database, A.B. Seyfert examined the issues published between 1929 and 1933, preserved on microfilm reels, to identify the film reviews relevant to this project.
In 2018, the Weimar Talkies Project (WTP) was mentioned in the film studies journal Synoptique in an issue devoted to moving image archival training.
In her article “The Current Landscape of Film Archiving and How Study Programs Can Contribute,” Adelheid Heftberger cites the project (among the Media History Digital Library, Cinemetrics, Timeline of Historical Film Colors and Kinomatics) as a prime example of a project “ideally suited to dealing with research questions in film studies” which, if widely adopted, would help film archives “curate innovative online presentations, thus also facilitating education and further research.”
In Spring 2019, following the digitization of all selected reviews, WTP entered its second stage, digitizing the corresponding issues in the Illustrierter Film-Kurier (Berlin). These were scanned at the SRLF Imaging Services thanks to generous support from Professor Todd Presner who funded the digitization.
The selected film programs are rich in pictures, artfully incorporated into detailed summaries of the films in question, making them the perfect companion piece to the reviews. Ben was working with Dawn Childress to realize the project. This progress was facilitated by additional mentorship from Professor Ashley Sanders Garcia. Initially set to be housed at the UCLA Digital Library, WTP was finally moved to UCLA’s HumSpace after consultation with Wendy Kurtz and Anthony Caldwell. A scan of microfilm images was found not to have the visual appeal initially envisioned and was discarded in the final layout.
Given that some of the materials are unreadable despite the scans’ high resolution, the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies (ELTS) and the Center for European and Russian Studies decided to award a grant for research to be conducted on site at the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, allowing some of the issues to be transcribed in person over the summer of 2021. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and some archives in Germany remaining largely inaccessible, this research was conducted at the Austrian Film Archive instead.
The site is currently updated weekly with new entries. The long-term objective is to have every release translated into the English language, similar to what was already done for the first two 1929 titles.