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Interview with Franz Witsch
by Becky Tan

Film critic Franz Witsch set up his website four years ago, although he says, “It’s really a problem for me to recommend films to other people.” For him film is the only true means of seeing and communicating in that it combines image, language, and music. Besides an interaction with the plot of a film, he is interested in a viewer’s inner dialog which can be very different from that which actually occurs on screen. He believes that film has replaced art as the only way to develop a true perception in these days of media overkill. Films show us a profane reality. These and other thoughts about the relationship between communication, politics, and film are on the website to which he generously encourages others to contribute – and not just film reviews.

Recently, he and others founded a non-profit organization called WASH (Wahlalternative Soziales Hamburg e.V. or Election Alternatives for a Socialized Hamburg). Franz’s next project is to publish a book, Politicalization of a Citizen.

Franz Witsch studied to be a teacher of geography, politics, and philosophy. Later took time off to teach himself computer, which he also approached in a philosophical way. He says, “Computers transform the 0/1 code into a language which humans understand, although they are unaware of the actual complicated communication which occurs. This same procedure is often true of people when communicating with each other: a mechanical transformation of data without actually knowing much about the person’s inner mechanism. ” Language is very important; without language, life is nothing.

This brings him back to communication. He says, “I always want to know what the other person is thinking.” Although he is busy with his website, film viewing and political activism, he volunteers to teach philosophy to tenth graders once a week in a Hamburg school. His favourite contemporary film is No Country for Old Men because of its laconic style and inaccessibility to the inner-most thinking of the actors.

He doesn’t attend film festivals, because, in keeping with his political beliefs and his pocket book, he wants film festivals to be free of charge, which very few are. Franz Witsch is a complex colleague with much to share, but knowledge of German is important in order to benefit from his important contributions.