On 18th September 1966, the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (dffb) became the first independent film school in West Germany. To celebrate, the dffb is showing a selection of films made by former students as the starting point of a reappropriation of the not so small contribution that the dffb has made to German and international film production over the years. This is part of a series of anniversary events, which will include a bigger retrospective in spring 2017.
The Deutsche Kinemathek's four-day festival presents digitally restored films from six decades of German film history. The archives of the Association of German Cinematheques give an insight into the activities that have taken place since the beginning of the German government's digitalization offensive to preserve film heritage visibly in the digital age.
Moments of change, upheaval and crisis in film history form the focus of the Magical History Tour in September. We are presenting films that make direct reference to technical, economic, social or political change, but also works in which such ruptures resonated only after a time delay. Clear filmic reflections of dramatic events stand alongside works whose reflection on past crises only becomes visible on second glance. To regard film history at transitional moments and the dawn of new eras encourages viewers not to see it as a continuous development towards an imagined "idea of progress" but as a network of discontinuities and shifts that can be read in manifold ways.
The Polish jazz musician and composer Krzysztof Komeda (1931–1969) is one of the outstanding European film composers of the 1960s. Between 1957 and 1968, he composed the music for over 60 short and feature-length films, documentaries and fiction, animation and TV works. In homage, we are presenting 14 of them, including works by Roman Polanski, Jerzy Skolimowski, Jerzy Stefan Stawiński, Andrzej Wajda and Henning Carlsen.
Komeda, whose real name was Krzysztof Trzciński, worked as an ear, nose and throat specialist before becoming Poland's most popular musician after his sextet performed at the 1956 jazz festival in Sopot. The festival marked the beginning of a liberalization towards jazz, which was despised by the state, and Komeda's appearance marked the advent of a new self-image for jazz music. In no other country did jazz acquire such political meaning as in Poland where it was not only the expression of a Western youth culture, but the symbol of freedom. Thanks to Roman Polanski, who asked Komeda to create the music for the short film Rozbijemy zabawę (Break Up the Dance) that he had made at the Łódź film school, Komeda started working as a film composer in 1957. It was the beginning of one of the most prolific cooperations between a director and composer in the history of cinema. Until his untimely death, Komeda wrote all the scores for Polanski's feature films as well as many of his short films, with the exception of Repulsion, for which he did not receive a working permit in England. His film compositions are characterized by the precise coordination between plot and music, which is only used when it is deemed necessary in terms of the drama. "Less is better than too much" (KK). Komeda, who was usually involved in the planning of the film at an early stage, avoided ostensible illustration and preferred to accentuate atmosphere rather than dramatic elements. The basis of his multifaceted scores was jazz but from the mid-1960s he increasingly used elements of classical, experimental and pop music. "His music was cool and modern, but there was a hot heart inside. Komeda was a film composer par excellence. He gave truth to my films. Without his music they would be meaningless." (Roman Polanski)
Even if NO HOME MOVIE had not become the legacy of the Belgian filmmaker and video artist Chantal Akerman, who died in 2015, this portrait of her elderly mother's last days would have provided a starting point for a review of her radical, experimental, rich and often autobiographical oeuvre, which comprises about 50 works and has left profound marks on the history of contemporary cinema. In all its forms and genres, Akerman's oeuvre is steeped in an existential "homelessness" because of the trauma of the Shoah; as the director herself put it, at its center stands her mother, Natalia (Nelly), a Polish Jew who was the only one of her family to survive Auschwitz and never talked about it. She can be seen in person in NO HOME MOVIE and TOUTE UNE NUIT, whereas in other films she appears offscreen as a disembodied voice, cited or in fictionalized form. In memory of the great avant-garde director Chantal Akerman, who saw herself as a nomad who did not belong anywhere, Arsenal is showing a diverse selection of her films which enter into dialogue with her last work NO HOME MOVIE.