Weimar to Hollywood

Ninotchka (1939), directed by Ernst Lubitsch, © MGM, courtesy of MGM/Photofest


From Weimar to Hollywood

German-Jewish Filmmaking Rediscovered | Online Class

Mondays, April 5–26, 3:00–4:30 pm (PT)

About the Program

Some of the most legendary and acclaimed talents of Hollywood’s Golden Age began their careers in Germany’s first democracy, the Weimar Republic, which lasted from 1918 until 1933. In this class, we’ll survey four notable films to better understand the era and its impact on Jewish filmmakers:

The Three from the Filling Station (1930)
The Man in Search of His Murderer (1931)
Ninotchka (1939)
The Reckless Moment (1949)

From early transcultural exchanges between Berlin and Los Angeles to the final exodus of Jewish talent under Nazi persecution, the cinematic production of the time reflected the tumultuous lives of German-Jewish artists in both the United States and Europe. Rediscover a cinematic legacy of continuity and crisis that resonates to this day.

Facilitator: Ben Seyfert UCLA Skirball Fellow in Modern Jewish Culture, is a PhD candidate whose dissertation focuses on the lost films of Late Weimar. He has a personal connection to the topic of German-Jewish émigrés in Hollywood: his family fled Nazi Germany for Los Angeles in the 1930s and 40s. He collaborated with his grandfather, Academy Award–winning documentarian Marcel Ophuls, to publish a book on the topic and bring this family history to the big screen. At UCLA, he has taught classes on émigré artists in Hollywood and the queer culture of Weimar Germany. Seyfert has authored contributions to film history in German, English, and French—most notably Goethe als Literatur-Figur (Wallstein Verlag, 2016) and Rethinking Jewishness in Weimar Cinema (Berghahn Books, 2020).