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Shared truths, shared knowledge and a shared history to refer to are important pillars of a society. However, playing with fiction and historical speculation are no less alien to it. What would have happened if history had taken a different course, if different decisions had been made at a certain point? What would have been the effects of this change of direction? It is a popular motif in the arts, and of films and television productions in particular, to create alternative historical scenarios in the realm of fiction and to imagine a different, alternative history. These mind games develop particularly much imagination when speculating about the history of the "Third Reich". What would have happened if German troops had occupied England, if the German Wehrmacht had won the Second World War and Hitler had survived? It is questions like these that the films in the retrospective Roads not Taken. Alternative Historical Narratives in Film deal with.

As a photographic medium, film seems predestined to playfully explore hypothetical settings in a credible and impressive way. Moreover, genres calculate with the audience's knowledge and expectations, while recontextualised archival material, for instance in mockumentaries and docufictions, shifts the meaning and significance of the original, historically accurate context. The films reveal continuities and ruptures, predicaments and scope for action, they entertain and are artistic expressions of societies that communicate about themselves.

The films in the retrospective move between seriousness and playful provocation. While the older examples, which react to contemporary threats, want to warn and appeal to become aware of the fragile status of the present, a humorous view of history creeps in with increasing temporal distance, a game with media images of history that makes use of a shared, common store of knowledge among the viewers. Laughter from a safe distance ultimately confirms what we now know better.
The attractiveness of alternative historical narratives consists in being able to deal with history and its worlds of possibility and to communicate about a shared knowledge: a potential that is all the more important in times when there is talk of post-facticity. Roads not Taken. Alternative historical narratives in film expands the exhibition Roads not Taken. Or: It could have turned out differently with films that test alternative historical scenarios.

Curated by Mathias Barkhausen