Clichéd ideas of the Soviet revolution film tend to ignore its national and regional variety. By concentrating on films created in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic – this retrospective running from July 1-10 attempts to put across a more differentiated picture. Alongside the place of production, it makes reference – and this is the current impulse – to a place of film heritage in the form of the National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Film Centre in Kiev, which despite the political crises of the last years has continued to carry out impressive work on the restoration, publication and communication of valuable archive holdings.
This look at the films restored by the Dovzhenko Centre, which have also been given new soundtracks, attempts at the same time to reconsider the relationship between the political and the aesthetic. However different they might be, these films still represent the results of the revolution. They should not be presented as agitprop classics, but rather as aesthetic manifestos that have their eye not just on flags, but also on unique faces; not just on fists, but also on moving bodies and gestures; not just on the exploitation of natural resources; but also on their form and texture.
The series also takes up the "great cinema" of the small genre: the seldom-screened trailers and animated films of the Soviet silent era, only a few of which survive today.
The series was curated and organized by Elena Vogman and Georg Witte in collaboration with Stanislav Menzelevskyi.
Don Siegel (1912–1991) was a true master of action-packed genre cinema who directed a total of fifty films for cinema and television between 1945 and 1982, encompassing science fiction, gangster films, prison dramas, thrillers, war films, westerns, and, above all, police and criminal films. Tautly directed individual scenes, a brisk tempo, vitality, a sense of sobriety, narrative economy and precisely timed editing are characteristic of his films – before he started directing his own films, his previous career included a job as the head of the editing department at Warner. After two Oscar-winning short films and two features for Warner, he went on to direct a series of unpretentious, effectively mounted B-movies on a modest budget. From the 60s onward, Siegel developed into a directorial star, working with famous casts and larger budgets.
We are showing a retrospective of many of his works from 10 July - 30 August.
The "eye of the director" – that's Ken Adams's pithy description of the function of the production designer (who is referred to variously as set designer or scenographer, depending on the production company, country, or period), who takes responsibility for a broad range of different tasks, starting with the conceptual visualization of the script and taking in the design of the cinematic universe all the way to creation and implementation of the interiors and exteriors. The work of the production designer doesn't just leave its mark on the look of a film, but also on its atmosphere and mood and not just in design-intensive genre films. Despite being impossible to overlook, the key contribution made by production design to the all-embracing nature of cinematic art is too seldom recognized. All the more reason then to dedicate the summer edition of the Magical History Tour to the quite literally multiform world of production design.
To coincide with the "Fassbinder – NOW" exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, every Monday we are screening a film from the rich oeuvre of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who would have turned 70 this year. Even 33 years after his death, his work continues to exude an undeniable topicality. As a chronicler of German history and society, he examined the structures that enable people to oppress others, as well as the emotional exploitation in intimate relationships and how they depend on economic conditions.
Each year the Arsenal offers a Summer School. For three days participants engage with a topic located at the interface of theory and practice in cinema. This year’s Summer School from August 27-29 will also add a second location, the silent green Kulturquartier. This new, independent venue for art and culture is located on the grounds of a former crematorium, built more than 100 years ago. Starting in October 2015 the entire film collection of the Arsenal will be housed there–publicly available to anyone interested.
New locations change what is located there–and vice versa. Especially when it’s about films that come from the past to shape the present. The topic “Shifting Shapes – Cinematic Transformations” will engage with such transformations over time and space, but also over larger structures and analogue and digital formats. Shape shifters are beings that are capable of changing their own external form. They do this quite on the own accord, but also in relation to the exterior world, for strategic purposes, as an expression of affect or from motives that remain hidden. The focus of the event is on a cinema of the past become present, and on film (and its locations) that are still in the process of emerging.
The presentations will be held in German! The number of participants is limited – please register in advance by July 30.
Playtime Jacques Tati
35 mm without dialogue 124 min
Entuziazm. Simfoniya Donbassa
Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass
Dsiga Vertov USSR 1930
DCP OV/EnS 65 min
Showing first: Animation film The USSR Palace of Art Nikolaj Chodatajew 1930
Animation film Save Paper J. Roytman 1930