“Petzold refuses movie clichés as strongly as he does political orthodoxy. At once regionally specific and a student of all cinema, he draws on numerous traditions and makes them his own.” – Manohla Dargis

The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces Christian Petzold: The State We Are In, the largest U.S. retrospective to date of the acclaimed German director, featuring his shorts, features, and rarely seen television work alongside a selection of films that have influenced him, November 30 – December 13.

A founding member of the loose movement known as the Berlin School, Christian Petzold makes films that are like no one else’s. At once intricately engaged with the real world and steeped in cinema history, his works radically reimagine such genres as film noir, thriller, melodrama, and the spy drama, offering narrative mysteries, enigmatic protagonists immersed in even more enigmatic circumstances, an incomparable sense of atmosphere and style, and surprising links between Germany’s turbulent past and its fragile present. The expanse of his career to date—including several inventive films made for television—affirms his status as one of contemporary cinema’s premier directors, and the Film Society is honored to host Petzold in person for this retrospective.

Highlights of Christian Petzold: The State We Are In include the director’s collaborations with German actress and frequent muse Nina Hoss, including Jerichow, Wolfsburg, and Something to Remind Me; Cuba Libre, a television variation on the 1945 noir Detour; the genre-bending Beats Being Dead (NYFF49), made for the miniseries Dreileben; Barbara (NYFF50), a Cold War thriller centered around a doctor planning to flee East Germany for Denmark; The State I Am In, Ghosts, and Yella, the films that make up his Ghosts trilogy; and a sneak preview of his latest masterwork, Transit (NYFF56), a haunting, conceptually daring portrait of a refugee based on German author Anna Seghers’s 1944 novel Transit. In addition to his features, the retrospective will offer a selection of Petzold’s short film work, including the experimental Süden, screening with his film school graduation project Pilots, and Where Are You, Christian Petzold?, screening alongside the exquisitely crafted Phoenix.

The series also includes a program dedicated to Petzold’s late friend and collaborator Harun Farocki, featuring screenings of Farocki’s The Interview (a source text for The Sex Thief) and Nothing Ventured (an inspiration for Yella), as well as Carte Blanche: Christian Petzold Selects, a selection of six films chosen by Petzold that have inspired his own work. Titles include Vincente Minnelli’s Some Came Running, François Truffaut’s penultimate film The Woman Next Door, Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st, Xavier Beauvois’s The Young Lieutenant, and John Berry’s He Ran All the Way, paired with Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country.

Organized by Dennis Lim and Dan Sullivan. Presented in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, with support from German Films.

Tickets go on sale November 16, and are $15; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $10 for Film Society members. See more and save with the 3+ film discount package or All-Access Pass.

Austrian Filmmuseum; Judith Revault d’Allonnes — Centre Pompidou; Deutsche Kinemathek; Goethe-Institut; German Films Service + Marketing GmbH; Institut français; The Match Factory; Music Box Films; Schramm Film



All screenings will take place in the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.) unless otherwise noted.

Christian Petzold, Germany, 2012, 35mm, 105m
German with English subtitles
Set in 1980, the first chapter of Petzold’s trilogy “Love in Times of Oppressive Systems” centers around a doctor—played by the incomparable Nina Hoss, in her fifth film with the director—exiled to a small town from East Berlin as punishment for applying for an exit visa from the GDR. Planning to flee for Denmark with her boyfriend, Barbara remains icy and withdrawn around her colleagues, particularly with the lead physician (the excellent Ronald Zehrfeld), who is hiding a secret of his own. With her patients, however, the guarded doctor is kind, warm, and protective, even risking her own safety for one of her charges. Masterfully controlled and totally absorbing, this Cold War thriller expertly details the costs of telling and withholding the truth. Courtesy of the Goethe-Institut.
Tuesday, December 11, 7:00pm
Thursday December 13, 9:00pm

Cuba Libre
Christian Petzold, Germany, 1996, 92m
German with English subtitles  
Extending his fascination with genre cinema, Petzold’s second feature is a made-for-television variation on the 1945 noir Detour, transposing Ulmer’s Poverty Row classic from the gloomy backroads of postwar America to the drab railway stations and sunlit autobahns of 1990s Europe. Across this colorless landscape, homeless drifter Tom tracks ex-lover-turned-prostitute Tina with the questionable assistance of a slick rich guy named Jimmy, pursuing parallel paths on a desperate odyssey westward that just might lead all the way to Cuba.
Wednesday, December 12, 8:45pm*
*Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Francesca Beale Theater, 144 W. 65th St.

Dreileben: Beats Being Dead / Dreileben: Etwas Besseres als den Tod
Christian Petzold, Germany, 2011, 88m
For the television miniseries Dreileben, Petzold, Dominik Graf (A Map of the Heart), and Christoph Hochhäusler (The City Below) each directed a feature-length film on the same general subject—the escape of a convicted criminal in a small central German town—but told from completely different points of view and in radically contrasting filmmaking styles. At the start of Petzold’s genre-bending, wonderfully unpredictable Beats Being Dead, a convicted killer, released under police custody to pay his last respects to his late mother, escapes from a country hospital. But the film comes to center on two star-crossed lovers: Johannes (Jacob Matschenz), a shy young hospital orderly, and Bosnian refugee Ana (Luna Mijovic), whom Johannes nobly rescues from the clutches of her abusive biker boyfriend. In the background, a police manhunt proceeds apace, while in the foreground Petzold reminds us that nothing can be as dangerous as first love. Courtesy of the Goethe-Institut.
Thursday, December 6, 9:00pm

Ghosts / Gespenster
Christian Petzold, Germany/France, 2005, 35mm, 85m
German and French with English subtitles
The spectral figures at the center of Petzold’s dark, oneiric film (the second in his “ghost trilogy”) are young nomads on the margins of Europe’s economy. Following a violent altercation in a Berlin park, Nina and Toni—two young women drifting between state institutions, foster homes, and menial work programs—forge an ambiguous but tender alliance. But an encounter with a well-to-do French couple convinced that Nina is their long-lost daughter, kidnapped as a toddler, reveals physical and mental scars and exposes them to the cruel indifference of the world. Courtesy of the Goethe-Institut.
Saturday, December 8, 4:30pm
Thursday, December 13, 7:00pm



Christian Petzold, Germany, 2008, 35mm, 93m
German and Turkish with English subtitles
In this unofficial adaptation of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, steely-eyed yet fragile Petzold regular Benno Fürmann plays Thomas, a hard-up Afghanistan war veteran who takes a job as a driver for Ali, a wealthy Turkish snack-bar entrepreneur. But his loyalty is tested when he meets Laura, Ali’s quietly frustrated wife (Nina Hoss), and the two begin a dangerous affair. As the relationship intensifies, Ali’s paranoia becomes more volatile, plunging the characters into a morass of lies and suspicion, beneath which simmer the xenophobia and economic inequities of contemporary Europe.
Friday, November 30, 9:15pm (Introduction by Christian Petzold)
Saturday, December 8, 8:30pm

Christian Petzold, Germany, 2014, 98m
German with English subtitles
Petzold’s riveting film follows Nelly (Nina Hoss), a concentration camp survivor returning to Berlin in search of Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld), the husband she still loves, who may or may not have betrayed her to the Nazis. Set in the period immediately following the war that gave rise to the Trümmerfilm (literally “rubble film”)—or “After the Camp” as Petzold puts it—Phoenix is an engrossing reflection on the postwar reconstruction of identity (as the title suggests, although it also turns out to be the name of the bar where she finds Johnny) couched as a noirish thriller of mistaken identity. Co-written with the late Harun Farocki, it is a precisely and exquisitely crafted chamber piece, resonant and gripping, softly building up to a stunning finale.

Preceded by:
Where Are You, Christian Petzold?
Christian Petzold, Germany/France, 2017, 23m
German with English subtitles
With fellow filmmaker and longtime interlocutor Christoph Hochhäusler, Petzold examines in detail a set of stills from a sequence in Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man, ruminating on the nature of cinematic narration, and offering a subtle tribute to his late mentor and friend Harun Farocki.
Saturday, December 1, 6:45pm (Introduction by Christian Petzold)
Sunday, December 9, 6:30pm

Pilots / Pilotinnen
Christian Petzold, Germany, 1995, 16mm, 68m
German with English subtitles
Petzold’s graduation project at film school (DFFB) is an unconventional crime thriller—which later aired on German television—that introduces a major theme of his films: the plight of women navigating a cold world of dead-end jobs and economic precarity in post-reunification Germany. Loosely adapting Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, Pilots follows two traveling cosmetic saleswomen—one nearing middle age and fighting for her job, the other a younger competitor who is also the boss’s lover—who start out as enemies and become outlaw accomplices. As they share dreams and humiliations, Petzold captures mid-’90s Germany’s bland highway landscapes of roadside motels and rest-stops in an economical style reminiscent of Robert Bresson. Courtesy of Austrian Filmmuseum.

Preceded by:
Christian Petzold, Germany, 1990, 16mm, 9m
German with English subtitles
Stylistically anomalous in Petzold’s oeuvre, this experimental student film favors montage over character-driven continuity, but it nevertheless announces several of his trademark obsessions: American pulp and noir, film theory, and a sustained critique of the post-1989 German political economy. Courtesy of Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek.
Friday, December 7, 9:00pm*
Wednesday, December 12, 7:00pm*
*Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Francesca Beale Theater, 144 W. 65th St.

The State I Am In


The Sex Thief / Die Beischlafdiebin
Christian Petzold, Germany, 1998, 35mm, 85m
German with English subtitles
The third of Petzold’s acclaimed television films closes his unofficial trilogy about marginalized women on the run with a tale of two sisters: Petra, a seasoned femme fatale posing as a successful hotel manager to dupe rich men around the luxury tourist resorts of Morocco, and Franziska, a failed academic desperately seeking a job in Cologne. Petzold portrays the exotic North African locale and the bright gray shops and transit zones of western Germany with the same stark equanimity, portraying a world of creepy businessmen, crippling debt, and the crushing weight of capitalism with a life of crime the only chance of escape. Courtesy of Austrian Filmmuseum.
Sunday, December 2, 6:30pm (Introduction by Christian Petzold)
Saturday, December 8, 6:30pm

Something to Remind Me / Toter Mann
Christian Petzold, Germany, 2001, 35mm, 90m
German with English subtitles
Something to Remind Me marks the first of Petzold’s many collaborations with actress Nina Hoss. It’s also the director’s first variation on Vertigo, reshaping Hitchcock’s classic story of pursuit, manipulation, and doomed obsessions via a seemingly innocent attraction between reserved attorney Thomas and Leyla, a lonely blonde woman who’s new in town. But all is not what it appears to be. Dialing back Hitchcock’s romantic impulse and cinematic extravagance, Petzold uses his trademark stylistic rigor and keen eye for human complexity to craft a fragile moral universe all his own. Courtesy of Austrian Filmmuseum.
Tuesday, December 4, 9:00pm
Sunday, December 9, 9:00pm

The State I Am In / Die innere Sicherheit
Christian Petzold, Germany, 2000, 35mm, 106m
German and Portuguese with English subtitles
With The State I Am In, the first entry in Petzold’s “ghost trilogy,” the director definitively emerged as one of contemporary German cinema’s masters—and one of the preeminent chroniclers of the nation’s recent history. What at first seems a normal bourgeois European family on vacation is soon revealed to be something far more complex: the couple are former Red Army Faction operatives, on the run since the 1970s. In tow is their rebellious teenage daughter, who hungers for a normal life of boys, cigarettes, and pop music. Perpetually on the lam in a modern Europe that has all but forgotten them, the family finds its old dreams of a revolutionary future fading in the bright glare of the present. Courtesy of the Goethe-Institut.
Saturday, December 1, 4:00pm (Q&A with Christian Petzold)
Friday, December 7, 6:30pm*
Sunday, December 9, 2:00pm
*Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Francesca Beale Theater, 144 W 65th Street

Sneak Preview:
Christian Petzold, Germany/France, 2018, 101m
German and French with English subtitles
In Petzold’s brilliant and haunting adaptation of German novelist Anna Seghers’s 1944 book Transit, a hollowed-out European refugee (Franz Rogowski), who has escaped from two concentration camps, arrives in Marseille assuming the identity of a dead novelist whose papers he is carrying. He enters the arid, threadbare world of the refugee community, where he becomes enmeshed in the lives of a desperate young mother and son and a mysterious woman named Marie (Paula Beer). Transit is a film told in two tenses: 1940 and right now, historic past and immediate present, like two translucent panes held up to the light and mysteriously contrasting and blending. A Music Box Films release.
Friday, November 30, 6:30pm (Q&A with Christian Petzold)

Christian Petzold, Germany, 2003, 35mm, 90m
German with English subtitles
In the titular central German factory town—once the seat of Hitler’s auto industry—Philipp (Benno Fürmann), a self-absorbed luxury car salesman, flees the scene of an accident that injures a young boy. But when he meets the boy’s mother, a supermarket shelf-stocker played by Nina Hoss, the guilt-ridden Philipp becomes embroiled in a melodrama of lies, romantic obsession, and simmering class conflict. With this tangle of social, moral, and narrative threads, Petzold paints a portrait of a bitter-cold society in which values of responsibility and care are dissolving, and where the connections between people become hopelessly frayed. Courtesy of Austrian Filmmuseum.
Tuesday, December 4, 7:00pm
Tuesday, December 11, 9:15pm



Christian Petzold, Germany, 2007, 35mm, 89m
Inspired by Herk Harvey’s 1962 horror classic Carnival of Souls, Petzold’s final entry in the “ghost trilogy” locates its chills in the cold cruelty of contemporary male-driven business culture. The title character, played with remarkable poise by Nina Hoss, is an eager businesswoman from the former East who discovers that the “good job” she’s just landed in Hanover isn’t as promising as it seems—and that her past life is not so easily left behind. Deftly pivoting between psychological horror and cool realism, Yella is at once an eerie reworking of genre norms and a potent rumination on neoliberal capitalism following the uneven reunification of the two Germanies.
Sunday, December 2, 4:00pm (Q&A with Christian Petzold)
Sunday, December 9, 4:15pm

Harun Farocki Program (TRT: 117m)
The following two films were influences on Petzold’s work. A direct inspiration for the humiliating job interviews seen in The Sex Thief, Harun Farocki’s The Interview is a darkly funny documentary on job application training courses for dropouts, recovered addicts, mid-level managers, and the long-term unemployed. In Nothing Ventured, which inspired the corporate world of Yella, Farocki trains his incisive gaze on the world of venture capital, capturing entrepreneurs and consultants as they engage in ritualistic performances of presentation and negotiation.
Thursday, December 6, 6:30pm

The Interview / Die Bewerbung
Harun Farocki, Germany, 1997, 59m
German with English subtitles
Harun Farocki’s darkly funny documentary investigates job application training courses for dropouts, recovered addicts, mid-level managers, and the long-term unemployed. Shot through with the director’s distinctive analytical rigor and keen irony—and scored with Neil Young’s blistering guitar soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man—Farocki’s film mounts a bleak exposé into the corrosive effects of management culture and self-branding, in which hopeful job applicants slowly learn that their identities are just so many commodities to be packaged and sold. The Interview was a source text for the humiliating job interviews seen in Petzold’s The Sex Thief.

Screening with:
Nothing Ventured / Nicht ohne Risiko
Harun Farocki, Germany, 2004, 58m
German with English subtitles
In Nothing Ventured, Harun Farocki trains his incisive gaze on the world of venture capital. A source of inspiration for the corporate world of Petzold’s Yella, Farocki’s deadpan observational documentary follows, over two days, the tense rituals of presentation and negotiation of entrepreneurs and bankers as they speculate on the futures of arcane products and business ventures. What emerges is a microcosm of global financialization and corporate business culture played out as a series of masculine performances, of offers and counter-proposals, and of power struggles enacted behind a veneer of professionalism and acumen.

Some Came Running


Carte Blanche: Christian Petzold Selects

He Ran All the Way
John Berry, USA, 1951, 35mm, 77m
Before his career was cut short by the Hollywood blacklist and a fatal heart condition, John Garfield (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Body and Soul) gave his final, chilling performance as a criminal wracked with paranoia. John Berry’s subtle, doom-laden noir follows a petty thief (Garfield) who takes a young, smitten girl (Shelley Winters) and her family hostage after a heist goes wrong. Garfield was a target of the House Un-American Activities Committee during its investigation of Communists in the entertainment industry, and his restive protagonist in He Ran All the Way is almost too real—a sweaty, desperate outsider masterminding his escape from the law.

Screening with:
A Day in the Country / Partie de campagne
Jean Renoir, France, 1936, 35mm, 40m
French with English subtitles
Based on a short story by Guy de Maupassant, Jean Renoir’s touching featurette chronicles a single afternoon during which a mother and daughter picnic with two fishermen in the French countryside. Resplendent with idyllic images and attentive to complex internal psychology in a way that few feature-length films can manage, A Day in the Country is considered a small masterpiece in Renoir’s filmography. It’s a filmic poem that perfectly blends the naturalism of Maupassant’s prose with the director’s singular approach to impressionism. Print courtesy of the Institut Francais.
Saturday, December 1, 1:30pm
Tuesday, December 4, 4:00pm

Oslo, August 31st / Oslo, 31. august
Joachim Trier, Norway, 2011, 35mm, 95m
English and Norwegian with English subtitles
Daylight lingers at the end of August in Oslo, but the sun is no friend to Anders, a semi-recovered addict facing a new life—which may not be too appealing without his former habits. Adapted from the same novel as Louis Malle’s The Fire Within (1963), this subtle, haunting film follows Anders as he tries to adjust: making love, wandering through Oslo, interviewing for a job, seeing old friends, and trying to get comfortable with his new situation. Joachim Trier’s first feature, Reprise, was a breakthrough for the director, and while that antic fiction was about friendship and hope, this second film, with its traces of Robert Bresson, is something altogether different.
Sunday, December 2, 2:00pm

Some Came Running
Vincente Minnelli, USA, 1958, 35mm, 137m
Five years after his triumphant turn in the film of James Jones’s novel From Here to Eternity, Frank Sinatra stars in another Jones adaptation: the 1,200-page chronicle of postwar disillusionment and small-town hypocrisy Some Came Running, shrewdly directed by Vincente Minnelli. In one of his most textured portrayals, Sinatra is Dave Hirsh, an embittered ex-GI who returns to his Midwestern hometown to write the next chapter of his life. He’s torn between the “respectable” influences of his social-climbing brother (Arthur Kennedy) and schoolteacher love interest (Martha Hyer), and the decadence embodied by gambler Dean Martin (brilliant in his first pairing with Sinatra) and floozy Shirley MacLaine (in her breakout role).
Saturday, December 1, 9:15pm
Thursday, December 6, 3:30pm

The Woman Next Door / La femme d’à côté
François Truffaut, France, 1981, 35mm, 106m
French with English subtitles
The penultimate film of his directing career, François Truffaut’s domestic drama of erotic ambivalence unfolds with the taut, ominous pacing of a thriller. Gérard Depardieu plays Bernard, a happily married father who becomes fatefully entangled with a former lover, Mathilde (Fanny Ardant), when she and her husband and young son become the new tenants of a neighboring house. Bolstered by the camerawork of William Lubtchansky and a brooding, atmospheric score by Georges Delerue, The Woman Next Door is an incandescent fable of amour fou wreaking havoc on seemingly staid and stable lives in a sleepy provincial town.
Sunday, December 2, 8:30pm
Friday, December 7, 4:00pm*
*Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Francesca Beale Theater, 144 W. 65th St.

The Young Lieutenant / Le petit lieutenant
Xavier Beauvois, France, 2005, 35mm, 110m
French, Polish, and Russian with English subtitles
Xavier Beauvois’s tough, eruptive deconstruction of the police procedural follows Antoine (Jalil Lespert), a young police academy graduate from provincial Le Havre who joins a murder investigation within Paris’s busiest precinct and forms a complicated mentorship with a newly sober officer, Caroline Vaudieu (Nathalie Baye). Meticulously crafted and featuring a strong ensemble, The Young Lieutenant is keenly interested in the seemingly dull and tense routines inherent to a genre that is, ultimately, sustained by violence.
Saturday, December 8, 2:00pm