Symposium: Film Posters – Images of Power?

On the occasion of the exhibition The Big Screen, the Berlin Kunstbibliothek organized the symposium Film Posters – Images of Power?. It took place on 23rd and 24th February 2024 in the lecture hall at Kulturforum.

Stereotypes, ideologies, power dynamics – such frequently witnessed aspects in film posters demand that we question their imagery. Films and the visuals used to advertise them are a mass media with a social dimension. With 300 works from twelve decades, the poster exhibition The Big Screen celebrates unique graphic design for communicating films, whether arthouse highlights or blockbusters. But what lies behind the images exhibited here as examples of good design? What roles and values are conveyed in the posters and the films they promote? To what extent do they act as visual amplifiers of biased thought patterns, and does this happen as subtext or as outright propaganda? How do market and morals influence the designs?

The two-day symposium Film Posters – Images of Power? explored these questions in eighteen talks of 20 minutes each. International experts from art history, cultural studies, film studies, graphic design, and other fields critically surveyed the film poster from a contemporary perspectiv (Abstracts of the Talks – German/English, PDF, 1 MB). The conference thus expanded the scope of the Berlinale, the film festival taking place in the city at the same time.

The symposium was organized by the Graphic Design Collection of the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Programme for the symposium: Film posters – Images of Power?

Friday, 23 February

Welcome and introduction by Christina Thomson (Collection of Graphic Design, Kunstbibliothek)

I. Culture/Politics: Three International Case Studies

  • Jeannine Harder (art historian, University of Leipzig) – Filmplakate als kulturpolitische Undercoverakteure im Kalten Krieg: Jan Lenica und die Polnische Schule der Plakatkunst (DE)
  • Nato Gengiuri (art historian, Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Film Georgia State University, Tbilisi) – Sovietische Zensur, kreatives Schaffen und das Filmplakat in Georgien (DE)
  • Agnes Tam (filmmaker and researcher, Berlin) – Why are they here? Hong Kong Sets in US-American, German and Asian Filmposters (EN)

II. In/Visible: Questions of Representation

  • Christina Dembny (art historian, Berlin) – Bloß Bein und Mund: Fragmentierte Frauenkörper im Filmplakat (DE)
  • Franziska Rauh (arts scholar, University of Bremen) – Plakatierte Rechtfertigungen: Filmposter und visuelle Verhandlung sexualisierter Gewalt (DE)
  • Tanja Tröger (media scholar, German Institute for Animated Film, Dresden) – Männer als Zugpferde, Frauen als Gestalter: Plakate für Trickfilme in der DDR (DE)
  • Robert Bauernfeind (art historian, University of Augsburg) – Das Filmplakat zu Steven Spielbergs Jaws: Geschlechterbilder, Tierdarstellung und Kontrollverlust (DE)

Saturday, 24 February

III. Dis/Parities: Mighty Markets, High Morals

  • Roman Avianus (film producer and poster collector, Potsdam) – Zensur oder Zeitgeist? Manuelle Manipulationen an gedruckten Filmplakaten (DE)
  • Adrien Jeanrenaud (digital humanities scholar, University of Geneva) – Posterizing Morality: Analyzing Censorship‘s Grip on Transnational Film Posters (EN)
  • Lutz Hieber (culture and media sociologist, University of Hannover) – Kultursoziologische Analyse länderspezifisch gestalteter Filmplakate (DE)
  • Ute Hintersdorf (communication designer, Berlin) – Über den Einfluss marktwirtschaftlicher Zwänge auf die Gestaltung von Filmwerbung in Deutschland (DE)

IV. Instrumentalized: Propaganda and War

  • Giulia Beatrice (art historian, University of Zurich/Bibliotheca Hertziana Rom) and Carlo Ugolotti (historian, University of Parma/Historical institute of Resistance and Contemporary Age of Parma) – Colonies on the Wall: Film Posters and the Visual Promotion of Fascist Colonial Cinematography, 1935-1943 (EN)
  • Matthias Struch (art and film historian, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin) – Avantgarde und Propaganda: NS-Filmplakate von Peter Pewas (DE)
  • Rasmus Greiner (film scholar, University of Bremen) – Zwischen Aufklärung und Voyeurismus: Der Irakkrieg als Filmplakat (DE)

V. Un/Truths: Current Perspectives

  • Jenni Zylka (Berlinale film curator and film critic, Berlin) – You can’t judge a film by looking at its poster …oder doch? (DE)
  • Catarina Sampaio (graphic designer and art director, University of Lisbon) – Decoding Identity: Portraiture in Film Advertising (EN)
  • Karine Savard (graphic designer and artist, Montreal) – Objects and Makers: Women in Movie Posters Today (EN)