may 2017, arsenal cinema

Márta Mészáros Retrospective

Márta Mészáros occupies a unique position in Hungarian film history. Born in 1931, she studied at the VGIK film school in Moscow and afterwards shot numerous documentaries, most of them shorts. In 1968, she made her feature debut with ELTÁVOZOTT NAP (The Girl), which was also the first Hungarian feature to be shot by a woman, thus introducing a defiantly female perspective to Hungarian and European filmmaking alike. The multi-award winning director, who also won the Berlinale's Golden Bear in 1975 for ADOPTION, is active to this day as a filmmaker.

In her first features in particular, her cinematic style is marked by documentary realism and precise depictions of different milieus. She later moved towards a more opulent film language, often drawing on symbolic images while remaining faithful to her themes nonetheless. Women are always at the heart of her films – working women, as Márta Mészáros once emphasized in an interview – and their attempts to gain individual and social independence. They regularly rebel against the patriarchal order, but do so without grand words or plans. Relationships are usually of an ambivalent nature, marked by conflicts, and fail due to the men’s rigid understanding of roles, while the women are uncompromising when it comes to insisting on their autonomy and will not be forced into a passive role. What all her female protagonists have in common is their skepticism towards romantic promises and a pragmatism that has no room for illusions. In her early films in particular, Mészáros portrays how woman wrestle with independence and intimacy in unflinching fashion, even as her stance is marked by a huge amount of sympathy for her characters, despite the clarity and lack of sentimentality of her gaze.

Márta Mészaros also always understands filmmaking as a reflection of her own biography and the history of her country. Subjects of hers such as the search for motherhood, dealing with loss, and trying to forget are all pervaded by personal experiences. Yet these personal feelings can never be separated from the political circumstances and their effects on the life of normal people – an experience which she as an Eastern European in the first half of the 20th century was unable to escape. This link is particularly evident in the "Diary Trilogy", which Mészáros made in the 80s and can be seen as the center of her oeuvre. In it, her alter-ego Juli Kovács experiences growing up in the politically dramatic times of Stalinism and the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Like Juli, Márta Mészáros spent her childhood in the USSR, to where her parents emigrated in the 30s. In 1938, her father, sculptor Lászlo Mészáros, was arrested by the Soviet secret police and disappeared without trace. Her mother died of typhus a few years later. Márta Mészáros explored the state-sanctioned forgetting of the Stalinist terror and its many victims most recently in 2004's THE UNBURIED MAN, a feature about the last years of Imre Nagy, who, as head of the government, stood up for democratic reforms during the Hungarian Uprising and was later arrested and executed.

We are very happy to be able to show a selection of Márta Mészáros's most important films following the tribute to her at the goEast-Filmfestival in Wiesbaden and are opening the film series with ELTÁVOZOTT NAP accompanied by an introduction by Sabine Schöbel.

may 2017, arsenal cinema

Roles and Plays – The Films of Matías Piñeiro

Argentinian filmmaker Matías Piñeiro (*1982) is one of the most promising talents in contemporary cinema. While his films regularly receive attention and acclaim at the major international film festivals, they have yet to be screened here in Germany at all, with the exception of VIOLA, which was shown at the Berlinale Forum in 2013. With this in mind, Arsenal is now presenting a short retrospective of Piñeiro’s five features and two shorts from 2007 to 2016. We are very happy that Matías Piñeiro will be our guest at Arsenal on the opening weekend thanks to the support of the Embassy of Argentina. In addition to the Q&As following the screenings, a studio discussion with Piñeiro moderated by filmmakers Christoph Hochhäusler and Nicolas Wackerbarth takes place on May 6th as part of the "Revolver Live" series.

may 2017, arsenal cinema

filmPolska - The Art of the Camera: Marcin Koszałka

Screenwriter, cinematographer, director of documentaries and features: Koszałka is one of the most versatile filmmaking talents in contemporary Polish cinema. Since his serious, unflinching documentary debut TAKIEGO PIĘKNEGO SYNA URODZIŁAM (Such a Nice Boy I Gave Birth To, Poland 1999), one key focus of his film work has been extreme situations whether physical or mental, fictional or real, which he always approaches with new forms of cinematic expression as both a director and cameraman and thus constantly takes the boundaries of what can be represented as his theme.

may 2017, arsenal cinema

The Will to Observe