If you were to ask a group of film experts which country is currently the least appropriate setting for a hilarious, truly wacky romantic comedy, the chances are that Saudi Arabia would come out on top. But their guesses would be wrong, as BARAKAH MEETS BARAKAH provides more than enough evidence to the contrary. He’s a municipal civil servant from Jeddah whose origins are humble to say the least, while she’s a wild beauty, the adopted daughter of a rich couple whose marriage has suffered due to their lack of biological children. He’s also an amateur actor in a theatre company rehearsing a production of "Hamlet", while she functions as a crowd-puller for her stylish adoptive mother’s boutique and runs her own boisterous, widely-seen vlog. Fate brings them together – in an environment hostile to dating of any kind. But the two of them show breathtaking ingenuity to circumvent the system of tradition, etiquette and religious police – with the crucial help of a quirky midwife and a pink push up bra. BARAKAH MEETS BARAKAH is a film for anyone who’s always wanted to know just what else is going on in Saudi Arabia. (Berlinale Forum catalog, Dorothee Wenner)
Clemens Klopfenstein, the "rock of Swiss film", has made films with everything that he got his hands and eyes on: he started with 8 mm, moving on to Super8, 16 mm, Super16, 35 mm and then Video8, Video Hi8, analogue then digital. He has lived in Umbria for 40 years, painting, drawing, and producing with a familial Franciscan budget. We are very pleased that on top of our analogue copies digital versions of all of Clemens Klopfenstein’s works are now available from arsenal distribution. These will be joined by three further films that are currently in production in the future.
Mount Gurugu overlooks the Spanish enclave of Melilla on northern Africa’s Mediterranean coast. The European Union and Africa are separated here by a high-security border facility consisting of three fences. Refugees, mostly from the sub-Saharan region, live in the tree-covered foothills, from where they try to cross the land border between Morocco and Spain. One of them is Abou Bakar Sidibé from Mali, who in LES SAUTEURS is both the protagonist and the one doing the documenting. After 14 months in the informal camp and numerous failed attempts to beat the fence system, Abou starts filming – his daily routine, his surroundings, the mind-numbing wait for the next "jump". His footage gives insights into the social organisation of the refugee community and provides a mournful look at the supposed El Dorado of Europe.
LES SAUTEURS carries out a unique shift in perspective: the abstract, anonymous thermal images of the surveillance cameras stand in contrast to the subjective gaze of an individual. After meeting Moritz Siebert and Estephan Wagner, Sidibé takes on the responsibility for their camera, tirelessly documenting his living conditions on the sidelines of an EU under lockdown. (Caroline Pitzen)
Dealing with the past is an important precondition for shaping the present. It is the only way of legitimizing responsibility for the future. The "Future of Memory - Nationwide School Cinema Program for Remembering the Holocaust in Film" project follows up "Asynchronous. Documentaries and Experimental Films on the Holocaust. From the Collection of the Arsenal." Throughout 2016, school events featuring films from the Asynchronous project will take place all over Germany.
Catherine and Virginia are best friends. Last year, Virginia wasn’t doing well, while it’s Catherine who’s struggling this year. Virginia’s parents own a lakeside cabin, the perfect place for a week of mutual wound licking. Sun pours in through the windows, framing the cool green of the trees outside. But this isn’t the refuge it seems and it’s not just the music that awakens the menace in the images. The ripples across the lake and the wan sunlight offer little comfort, to say nothing of the picture of a skull lying forgotten in a cupboard.
Last year’s events keep crashing in upon the present, things weren’t good then and they aren’t better now. When the two women confide in one another, it’s like two separate monologues, the camera gliding between their strained faces as if they were one and the same. They otherwise stick to wry barbs, each criticizing the other’s privilege as they still cling on to their bond. As salad leaves wilt, men come and go, and tension gives way to hostility, what even remains of this friendship? Dark-ringed eyes alight with rage, a stream of quiet bile, one face cut into another, two true Queens of Earth. (James Lattimer)
2015 is dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust – a subject that is of particular significance for our institution, given that the cinematic engagement with the Holocaust has formed a key concern of our work since the very foundation of our association in 1963. This is still apparent to this day, whether in our cinema program, that of the Berlinale Forum, or in our arsenal distribution portfolio. Against this backdrop, a selection of 46 documentaries and experimental films that deal with the Holocaust, but also with subjects such as exile and forced labor during the Nazi era, has been put together from our film collection.
Roger teaches yoga. The relationship with his daughter Zoe, who has just finished her military service, is put under strain by her love for Maya, a young woman who is allegedly a certified schizophrenic. There is tension with the participants of his yoga class when Roger repeatedly comes late and brings along a stray dog. When Roger, Zoe and Maya take on a renovation job on a middle-class home nothing goes to plan and the whole affair is wrought with tension. Three people on the edge: of society, of control, of strength and of collapse. The different realities that Roger tries to get to grips with, metaphors for Maya’s schizophrenia catch up with him in his yoga class when his belief that "we can make our own time" reaches its limits just as fast as his "feel united with the world around you" notion clashes with social reality. For his feature debut, Zbigniew Bzymek has found a form that is remote from social drama – the outline of a story is sketched in a non-dramatic and non-linear way by scenes that are sometimes separated by fades to black. With an idiosyncratic floating atmosphere and one of the most long-lasting guitar improvisations since "Dead Man."
SOLAR SYSTEM is a film about disappearance. It is a portrait of daily life in the indigenous community of the Kollas in Tinkunaku in the mountains of northern Argentina. It tells the story of Ramona and Viviano in the valley of Blanquito and at high altitude in Santa Cruz, of the deaf Fortunato and of Louis’ family, of Soto the shepherd, and of Cecilia and Bernardo whose tractor turned over, of Guido the child who carves men out of clay, of God, of the carnival which everybody celebrates, and of the flowing of the waters. The film shows a meeting without knowing the language of the other, a story of getting to know and seeing each other without words. Non-verbally, exclusively through images the film approaches the people of a small indigenous Kolla community. We accompany the seasonal tramp of Viviano and Ramona from the valley up to the village of Santa Cruz, 3000 meters above sea level, where they spend the summertime until the autumn rain makes them go back to Rio Blanquito. Living with the Kollas, inbetween the old rites and the irruptive modernity, in the grandiose landscape of Yunga and Quechua, the film narrates the day-to-day disappearence of an indigenous people. Dies irae. (Thomas Heise)
First the smoking chimney, which the telephoto lens draws up close to us. Then the trains, the clouds and the flocks of birds, the panorama of the city viewed through a wide-angle lens. Airplanes. Time-lapse. Slow-motion. Later, dark rain clouds, sun, snow, moonlight. The street in front of the building: warehouses before which junk is sorted, wine is delivered, a party is thrown. Burning cars, a terrible motorcycle accident. A young woman who day for day picks up her mail and the newspaper, crossing into the frame from the left and returning from the right. In all the years, she never seems to notice the man standing at his window with a camera watching her, recording life as it unfolds in front of his studio. It is only through the messages on the filmmaker’s answering machine that the viewer notes the passage of time. In the beginning these messages seem a bit funny: calls from happy or disappointed girlfriends, holiday greetings and congratulations. At that point, they are still without any context – but the context soon becomes clear. From then on, every message takes on a historical significance. Illness, death, pregnancy, birth, a break-up, successes, failures. It comes as a shock when we realize that we are in the middle of a life that is more dramatic than any fiction. (Christoph Terhechte)
THE BALLAD OF GENESIS AND LADY JAYE is a film about Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, well-known for his work with Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, and his life and work partner Lady Jaye (née Jacqueline Breyer). One would expect the film to be about the history of industrial music, about Genesis as a link between the pre- and post-punk era, about the underground scene since the 1970s. And it is, but it tells the story from the perspective of a great romantic love that began in the 1990s. Genesis and Lady Jaye start to undergo surgical procedures to merge into a third being, a pandrogynous being.
THE BALLAD OF GENESIS AND LADY JAYE is also a film by Marie Losier, a filmmaker whose trademark is to playfully build up a very personal relationship with her underground role models. Kitchen and garden shots alternate with home-movie performances, magic tricks and archival footage. The film maintains its dynamic rhythm – with the help of Genesis’s cut-up narratives – even when Lady Jaye’s unexpected death turns it into a film about mourning. From that point it revolves around the question of how to die when two have merged into one – and how to go on living.
The first ever winner of the "Cinema fairbindet" Prize, a new award established this year at the Berlinale for films that explore developmental and political issues which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, will be touring through 25 German cities from October 18th until December 21st as part of the "Cinema fairbindet" road show. The list of participating cinemas can be found below together with the date of the screening(s) and any additional events marked. Please see the homepage of your particular cinema for more information.
When Sahand’s father gets a job on an oil rig, the family has to move from Iran’s fertile north to the hot, arid south. Soon afterwards, war breaks out with Iraq. Seven-year-old Sahand is at home with his mother when she is killed by a bomb. He survives but goes into shock. Unable to cope, his father takes him and his 12-year-old sister Shooka back to their home village to stay with their grandfather. The idea is that the calm and beauty of the north will help Sahand get over his trauma, but he finds it tough. On top of this, he is picked on by the other children in the village. One day, he discovers a wounded wild goose near a close-by lake. Its feathers remind him of the white dress his mother was wearing the day she died. Although his grandfather forbids him from looking after it, Sahand sneaks out at night to find the goose.
Thirteen experimental films from this year’s Forum Expanded program are now available from arsenal distribution: BLIND by Annika Larsson (Germany/Sweden 2010, 20’), CARRYING PICTURES by Tom Holert (Germany 2010, 10’), CARRYING PICTURES by Tom Holert (Germany, 2010, 10’), CET HOMME (This Man, Germany 2011) by Markus Ruff, DAS SCHLAFENDE MÄDCHEN (The Sleeping Girl) by Rainer Kirberg (Germany 2010, 114’), FÜHRUNG (Guided Tour, Germany 2010, 37’) by René Frölke, INTO THIN AIR by Mohammadreza Farzad (Iran 2010, 26’), MINOR by Patty Chang (USA 2010, 25’), NATIONAL MOTIVES by Raphaël Grisey (France/Hungary 2010, 28’), PARALLEL WORLDS by Harald Thys and Jos de Gruyter (Belgium 2010, 26’), PAROLE À LA FEMME by Eléonore de Montesquiou (Estonia 2010, 8’), PIGS by Pawel Wojtasik (US 2007-2010, 7’), THE STORY OF MILK & HONEY by Basma Alshrif (Lebanon 2010, 10’) and SURFACE NOISE by Tim Blue, David Phillips und Paul Rowley (Germany 2010, 7’).
From Oct. 28th through Nov. 11th 2009, the Arsenal presented "LIVE FILM! JACK SMITH! Five Flaming Days in a Rented World", our first major cooperation with the HAU/Hebbel am Ufer theater. The festival was curated by Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Marc Siegel and Susanne Sachsse, and invited over 50 international artists and scholars to attend in order to pay homage to pioneering American underground artist and queer icon Jack Smith. The performances, films and videos, slide shows, exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and discussions held during the festival did not just provide a variety of perspectives on the gender and genre bending work of Smith, Andy Warhol and their fellow 60's avant-gardists, but also placed Smith's work within the context of a wide-ranging group of contemporary artists.
The works commissioned by Arsenal for the festival are now all available through arsenal distribution.
A DVD box set containing works from 2009 & 2010 is now available for viewing purposes and / or for curators, festivals and other exhibition venues.