Founded in 1933, “Ibérica Films S.A.” was a Barcelona film company famous for their 1934 production “Doña Francisquita”.
For the Jewish exiles expelled from the nazi-controlled German film world, Ibérica was both film production company and underground railroad, providing employment to those who had nowhere left to run. The story of their tenacity and courage is almost impossible to believe.
For ninety-seven years, the jagged shadows of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari have swept across the imagination.
For myself, as the Vancouver-born grandson of David Oliver, one of the film’s original producers, Caligari is much more than a screen classic; it is a family heirloom that carries with it a strange curse. On Saturday, Nov. 12th, the Pacific Cinematheque will host a very special screening of this 1920 Expressionist masterpiece accompanied by a live musical performance by the Oliver-Film Ensemble. Please join us for an evening of extraordinary music, beauty and mystery in what can only be described as a “cinematic séance”.Where: Vancouver Cinematheque 1131 Howe st. Vancouver, Canada
When: Saturday, Nov. 12th @7 p.m.
For tickets and information click hereBackground Info
Founder of Germany’s legendary UFA Studios, David Oliver was a man for whom the term “movie mogul” might’ve been created.
The producer of over 200 silent films, he once controlled a cinema empire that stretched from Budapest to Amsterdam.
In 1934, after a Berlin bomb attack by Nazi assassins, he vanished without trace.
In 2011, his papers were re-discovered in a Vancouver basement.David Oliver literally belongs to the founding generation of German film producers…
-Director of UCLA Film & Television Archive
What did a producer in the early days of cinema do? He invented what a producer was…
David Oliver’s story is exemplary
Dr. Martin Koerber
-Curator and Director of the Museum of German Film & Television, Berlin
Vancouver January 2011:
The canvas upon which we create the story of our identity is never blank. We grow up assuming we have the power to define ourselves, when in reality the past is clouded with secrets and nothing- including our very selves is what it seems.
What if the picture behind you shifted and, all of a sudden, you were no longer the person you thought you were? What if you were to discover that everything you knew about your family’s origins was a fabrication?
Five years ago this happened to me when a suitcase was discovered in the basement of our Vancouver home. We opened it to find papers belonging to our grandfather identifying him as film producer of Expressionist masterpiece The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and placing him at the center of a vast sphere of influence as founding director of Germany’s UFA Studios.
How could we explain the papers describing his survival from a 1934 Nazi assassination plot? Far from merely revealing the last testament of a movie mogul, the Pandora’s box contained a secret, one which our own father had kept from us: We were a family of Jewish exiles who’d erased their identities in a bid for survival.
Oliver resigns…The Regrouping of the Board of the Decla-Bioscop
On December 2nd, 1920, we received the following message from the board of the Decla-Bioscop Film Company:
As of this day, Mr. D. Oliver has resigned from the board of Decia-Bioscop A.G. He is to be replaced by Mr. Rudolf Meinert. Mr. Erich Pommer takes over the factory…
And so what we have previously foretold, as a probable course of events some time ago has now become fact. The reversal is complete: Rudolf Meinert will move to Viktoriastrasse in place of the exiled director Oliver and Erich Pommer will take over the orphaned film factory department in Friedrichstrasse. All other items remain unchanged; foreign trade and distribution will remain affiliated under the central administration.
And the reasons for Oliver’s friendly resignation, which will undoubtedly lead to the transfer of his capitalist participation into other hands?…the same motives from which Ufa-Decla’s predecessors had failed, were also deciding factors in the sudden decision of Director Oliver. The organizations of the big corporations presuppose a multitude of personalities, all of whose voices must be heard on all decisions.
It is quite understandable if a man possessed of the characteristics of Oliver cannot fit into these forms of organization and that he should so easily tend to break up organizational presuppositions. Director Oliver acted upon the consequences of his temperament, his business policy, his disposition for his nature and left his influential position within the Decla Group.
Director Oliver is one of the most controversial and effective personalities in the German film industry. We have often had occasion to deal with his work critically, and have often arrived at conclusions not always sympathetic to Mr. Oliver. But it can be said without hesitation that he is one of the most generous business politicians in our industry. What we have written two years ago when he left the Ufa Group, we can only reiterate here: the numerous attacks against Oliver prove he possesses one of the most distinctive profiles within our industry. Whoever has ever had to deal with him knows how a skillful a subcontractor he is, how high his ambitions are and how he has adapted himself to every situation. It is to be assumed that a man of such activity and energy will not stand idly aside in these economic times, and we shall not be astonished when the name Oliver will in a very short time be mentioned again and in a no doubt surprising and generous combination.
Rudolf Meinert, Oliver’s successor, has done a bit of work on his previous post, which he can rightly be proud of. His work is above all the construction of the Neubabelsberger factory transforming it from a land without shape or form into a model plant. Into his new post he brings his business experience as a long-time film maker, with his pencil in hand, his dispositions. Mr. Erich Pommer, whose past has predestined him as head of production among the other members of the Management Board, will have ample opportunity in this position, as well as hitherto, for the development of the Group.
Here is an interesting article (written in Portuguese) I recently came upon in an issue of “A União” dated March 13, 1921:
Those of you who are only fluent in English can get the financial details here:
The godfather of Spanish cinematography, Heinrich Gärtner was one of the most important contributors to David Oliver’s Ibérica Films productions. The ex-Ufa cameraman is the fellow wearing a white beret. Here is an excellent article about Gärtner by Kike Narcea.
On Sunday, April 10th, Vancouver’s Van City Theatre will present the forgotten 1920 fantasy film Genuine.
The little-known followup to Robert Wiene’s classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Genuine is the story of a vampire femme fatale kept by a rich madman.
Produced by Berlin’s Decla-Bioscop company, Genuine has for many years existed only in fragments. Vancouver film maker Mark Oliver, grandson of one of the film’s original producers has taken on the task of painstakingly reassembling all known material to create a new, condensed version.
An opiated journey into a fantasy netherworld, no other film so closely evokes the spirit, (and decadence) of Weimar Berlin. Genuine must be seen to believed!
This special screening will feature live musical accompaniment by The Oliver-Film Ensemble:
An interesting article from The Moving Picture World, April 1916
Who knew there was interactive cinema in 1916? David Oliver’s Berlin film company reaches out to anyone with an original idea for a movie. The contest is unfortunately closed…for now anyways!
Top right column
“Prompted by the idea of raising the standard of ﬁlmsand also with a view towards encouraging the talent inyoung German writers, the Oliver Film Company has inaugurated a ﬁlm idea contest. All ideas received up to the 29th of February, 1916, and which are produced inﬁlm during the current year will be paid for upon acceptancewith 300 marks. The ﬁlm must not exceed 1,000 metersand should preferably be divided into three acts, althoughthis last stipulation is not exacting. Books on the rental ofthese ﬁlms will be kept and the author whose ﬁlm will register the highest returns will be rewarded with a prize of 1,500 Marks, the second and third highest with respectively 1,000 Marks and 500 Marks…”
A letter from Edith Oliver to the Aliens Department, Home Office. Her husband is now classified an “enemy alien” and is being held in Huyton Interment Camp, Liverpool. Suffering from extreme depression, many of his fellow internees will commit suicide.
Are you ready for “Genuine”? Vancouver audiences will soon find out on Sunday, April 10th when UFA MAN presents this extremely rare, bizarre follow up to expressionist classic “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”….Here is the original 1920 poster by famed graphic illustrator Josef Fenneker. The Berlin Marmorhaus cinema was owned by David Oliver who co-produced “Genuine” along with Erich Pommer and Rudolf Meinert. Further details are on the way!
These “Oliver-Film” production stills recently came to light in a European collection of film ephemera. I’m trying to connect the dots and establish which films they may have come from. Who out there can identify these mysterious actors I wonder? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
After the passage of a century, two long-forgotten silent films return to the city of their birth…Here is a short clip from the June 25th screening of Oliver-Film’s “Im Reich Der Zwerge” and “Guido der Erste” which was held at the magnificent Ballhaus Berlin.
Music by Romain Azzaro (aka Rouge Mécanique) and Aurélien Rivière (aka DoubtingThomas)
Cinematography: Derek Howard
With grateful thanks to The Eye Film Institute, Netherlands and the National Library of Norway
Mark sends a video post card from 3,900 m above sea level, in front of Piz Palü mountain. The cast and crew of “The White Hell of Piz Palü” really braved the elements during its making. This was the first movie to screen at David Oliver’s UFA Palast in 1928, Hamburg’s largest cinema palace of its time.