Communicating international film culture in a lively manner is both the aim and mission of Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art. Working at the point where practice and theory come together, the institute comprises a space for thinking outside the box in (film) cultural terms, a cinema whose attention is focused on independent and experimental film and a communication platform for promoting dynamic exchange between film, academia and art linked to a whole network of different organizations.
Its work encompasses the running of the two-screen arsenal cinema, putting on the Berlinale Forum and Forum Expanded, distributing films as arsenal distribution and collecting and communicating works of independent and experimental cinema as well as avant-garde film history.
The board of directors is made up of the film scholars and curators Milena Gregor, Birgit Kohler and Stefanie Schulte Strathaus.
As a charitable association, Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art has a cultural remit and receives funding from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media to this end as well as project-related support from a wide range of different institutions and partners.
With over 1000 screenings a year, the cinema provides a program that brings together the historical and the contemporary, the academic and the popular, and the highbrow and the subcultural. Adventurous directorial debuts from young talents, innovative film and video art from all corners of the world, international film history from A to Z – the program is the expression of a curatorial approach based on the assumption that cinema is continually changing and is therefore in constant need of “rediscovery”.
Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art is responsible for organizing one of the sections of the annual Berlin International Film Festival. The Berlinale Forum stands for new trends in world cinema and fresh narrative forms. Unconventional, essayistic works of cinema, long-term observations, documentaries, cinema from countries off the beaten track - everything which goes beyond the mainstream is brought together in this section of the Berlinale. Since 2006, Forum Expanded has extended the program to include experimental film and video art for both cinema and exhibition contexts.
arsenal transfer is actively involved in current discussions on film, cinema and art via a broad range of different research and communication activities: our cinematic practice is accompanied by conferences, Q&As, workshops, exhibitions, readings, publications and panel discussions, all of which provide a framework for open and lively discussion. This interdisciplinary approach opens up new spaces to cinema: galleries, clubs, media performance – film is by no means restricted to the cinema auditorium.
Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art also brings out specialist materials and DVDs via its in-house publishers.
Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art has a film collection numbering 8,000 works. It bears testimony to the idea of film (history) as a "living archive" and spans both historical trends in the history of avant-garde film and current trends in film and video art. The task for the future will increasingly consist of processing and expanding the collection as well as opening it up to outside use through user-oriented archiving and digitalization.
Our distribution range numbers around 2,000 titles. The distribution arm arose from the desire to make the films shown at the Forum accessible to an international public once the festival itself was over - films which both then and today are often unable to find a commercial distributor. Our films are shown primarily in art house cinemas across Germany. In 2002, the distribution arm was expanded to include artistically experimental film pieces that work at the border between film and visual art. Presenting video art and experimental films at the Filmhaus, at festivals, and in art and gallery spaces all plays a part in the ongoing investigation of what the conditions that constitute cinema actually are.
Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art also provides a wide range of additional services. Arsenal offers a comprehensive consultation service for curators, academics and those interested in film, and develops approaches for showing films outside the cinema whilst making projection technology available to this end. The cinema auditoria and the technical equipment they contain can also be hired for both public and private events.
Photo: Jürgen Keiper