Importing Asta Nielsen
Cinema-Going and the Making of the Star System in the Early 1910s
International Conference: Frankfurt, German Film Museum, 27 to 29 September 2011
Organised by Deutsches Filminstitut, Frankfurt, and Media Studies, University of Trier, in connection with KINtop.
Curated by Martin Loiperdinger.
Asta Nielsen has been the first renowned female star of world cinema. Her name is inextricably connected with the advent of the long feature film and the introduction of the star system. Her films played a crucial role in the transition from short films to the long feature film as the main attraction of the programme which took place in various countries, in the years before the First World War.
Asta Nielsen’s international film career started in Germany with the ‘invention’ of the Monopolfilm, the monopoly rental system, in late 1910. Her films were distributed within this exclusive system and received tremendous box-office records. The screen personality of the Danish actress appealed to audiences of all sorts. Branded as ‘the Eleonora Duse of Film Art’ she uncontestedly was the most popular film actress with German film audiences in 1913.
But was this also the case with the many countries which imported Asta Nielsen films before the First World War? How was the distribution of her films organized in those countries?
Did the Danish actress indeed attract audiences in those countries as she was able to do in Germany? And did her films also play a crucial role in establishing the long feature film format as they did in Germany?
What about the reception of her films in so many countries with different cultures and customs? How did censorship react to the provoking characters which Asta Nielsen played on screen? How did trade periodicals and daily newspapers respond to her screen personality?
And, last but not least, in which ways was Asta Nielsen on screen appropriated and received by the varied audiences of so many countries, varying not only in gender and class, but also in education, religion, and life style? Is it possible to map different patterns of audience response to Asta Nielsen films in different countries?
The conference will discuss various modes of distribution, exhibition, appropriation, and reception of Asta Nielsen within countries of all continents.
The Conference Importing Asta Nielsen will take place in Frankfurt, 27 to 29 September 2011, just before the Pordenone Silent Film Festival 2011 (which will start 1 October 2011). Participants of the conference will be able to travel easily from Frankfurt airport to Venice Marco Polo airport, or by Ryanair from Hahn airport (1 hour bus ride from Frankfurt) to Treviso airport (30 minute train ride to Pordenone).