Announcement regarding TRANSIT READING GROUP and screening of ESCAPE ROUTE TO MARSEILLE
Following last year’s presentation of Film Emigration from Nazi Germany (1975) by Günter Peter Straschek, the Essay Film Festival and the Goethe-Institut will now screen the restoration of Escape Route to Marseille (1977), directed by Ingemo Engström and Gerhard Theuring, which is based on the exile novel Transit by Anna Seghers. In 1977, Engström and Theuring embarked on a journey through France, making a ‘working journal with images’, as they described it. Their essayistic approach to film adaptation follows the escape route of German emigration from Nazi Germany (and Seghers’s own route), documenting the places, talking to witnesses, layering the past and the present. The result is a film in two parts, mixing fictional and documentary elements, and performing a thorough investigation of exile and cultural resistance against fascism during World War Two.
Leading up to the screening, we are organising a study group to read and discuss Anna Seghers’s Transit. The novel, considered to be one of the greatest examples of “exile literature” ever written, was completed in 1942, but only published in 1951. It is an existential, political and literary thriller that explores with extraordinary compassion and insight the agonies of boredom, the vitality of storytelling, and the plight of refugees. The novel has inspired a number of film adaptations, including a recent version directed by Christian Petzold in 2018. The reading group will explore some of the themes raised by Seghers’s book and the cultural and historical context in which it was written. The group will be free and open to all, convening on Wednesday 12 February, Wednesday 11 March, and finally on Saturday 4 April, before the screening of Escape Route to Marseille at the Goethe-Institut that afternoon.
We will be referring to Margot Bettauer Dembo’s English translation of Transit, published by the New York Review of Book Classics in 2013 and widely available to buy online and in bookshops.
If you wish to join the reading group, please register your interest here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reading-group-around-transit-by-anna-seghers-tickets-90826058185
This means that we can keep in touch with you regarding the content of the sessions, for example if we are focusing on a specific chapter or thematic aspect of the book. Bookings for the screening on Saturday 4 April will be available via the Essay Film Festival website and on the Goethe-Institut website in due course.
If you have any questions, please send a message marked “Transit reading group” to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dates and venues of TRANSIT READING GROUP and screening of ESCAPE ROUTE TO MARSEILLE
Reading Group, session one: 6:30-8:30, Wednesday 12 February, Keynes Library, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD
Reading Group, session two: Wednesday 11 March 6:30-8:30, Room 106, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD
Reading Group, session three: Saturday 4 April, 12:00-13:30 (with screening starting at 14:30) Goethe-Institut, 50 Princes Gate, Exhibition Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2PH
Film Screening: Escape Route to Marseille (Fluchtweg nach Marseille), Ingemo Engström and Gerhard Theuring (1977), Germany, 1977, DCP, German with English subtitles, 210 minutes (part one: 90 minutes, part two: 120 minutes)
On behalf of Maren Hobein, Goethe-Institut London, and the Essay Film Festival: Matthew Barrington (Manager), Kieron Corless, Nicolas Freeman (CHASE intern), Katie Grant, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Janet McCabe, Raquel Morais, Laura Mulvey, and Michael Temple (Director).