What is "German Cinema"?
Films have been transgressing national boundaries since their invention. Film productions, regardless of their country of origin, have been made the world over, and projected all over the world. German film history is no exception, and was always populated with foreign film makers. Is it even possible to imagine German silent film without the Danish actress Asta Nielsen and her husband, the director Urban Gad? Or without the American actresses Fern Andra and Louise Brooks? The Italian composer Giuseppe Becce wrote the scores for countless German films; and German screen operettas would have been much poorer without the Italian director Carmine Gallone ("Dir gehört mein Herz") or the Polish tenor Jan Kiepura ("Die singende Stadt").
Swedish actress Zarah Leander ("La Habanera") and the Hungarian Marika Rökk ("Die Frau meiner Träume") sang and danced their way across the aryanized screen of the Third Reich. The Englishwoman Lilian Harvey ("Glückskinder") could be counted on to put viewers in a good mood; and Czech actress Lída Baarová was much more than a lover in "Die Geliebte." Although German film had always had plenty of foreigners working in it, the situation changed fundamentally following World War II. The intensification of global labor migration beginning in the 1960s brought huge groups of foreigners to Germany, which initially gave rise to the idea that these cultures could exist parallel to each other but clearly segregated. Globalization, the spread of mass media, and immigrant children who were born in foreign countries have gradually shifted and obliterated boundaries - and given birth to a transnational cinema that is still waiting for clearer definition.