Sabine Nessel's lecture poses the question of the relevance of archives for film historiographical research. We bring the cycle of Arsenal archive films by American independent documentarian Les Blank to a close with SPEND IT ALL (Les Blank, Skip Gerson, USA 1971, 6.12.), a film in praise of the everyday, culinary, and musical culture of the Cajuns in southwest Louisiana and WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE (Les Blank, USA 1980, 6.12.), in which filmmaker Herzog honors a lost bet. The start of a new focus on films of the feminist cinema of the 70s is formed by Helke Sander's DIE ALLSEITIG REDUZIERTE PERSÖNLICHKEIT – REDUPERS (West Germany 1978, 13.12.), which shows the everyday life of press photographer and single mother Edda Chiemnyjewski (Helke Sander) in 1970s West Berlin.
The lecture series runs until February 2017 and is open to anyone interested.
As always, Maike Mia Höhne presents a programme of short films on the shortest day of the year - December 21.
"It's only the gesture, that truly holds the power." (Iman Issa) What charge are locations, places and situations imbued with that are marked by post-colonial relationships? Women's belonging to a shared space of thought can less be explained via a specific nationality and more via the inheritance of a shared linguistic and cultural space. Jointly experienced are reflected in the works. Re-localization and appropriation of history occur via a wide range of different artistic strategies and procedures: reenactment, found footage, dance.
For the last time this year, Vaginal Davis presents her series at the Kuppelhalle at silent green in Wedding on December 22. She regularly selects treasures from our collection of 16mm prints which receive a special contextualization via her introductions, with a musical accompaniment by Daniel Hendrickson. For the Christmas edition, she has decided on the Marx Brothers: the film MONKEY BUSINESS (Norman Z. McLeod, USA 1931) from the American pre-Code era tells a story of immigration into the USA: Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo try to enter the country as blind passengers from Europe. Groucho on Living Archive: "The only thing I can say about the Marx Brothers' films is that there won't be a new one."
In this edition of the "Public Screening", we create a link to the previous one by presenting a film already digitized by us instead of a film print in precarious condition: following Laura Mulvey's short film "Amy!", we are showing RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX, which she shot with Peter Wollen in 1976. Mulvey and Wollen’s theoretical work on feminism and film semiology has had an enduring influence on film theory. Their work was at the same time part of a wider social movement which envisaged a new social practice emerging within the climate of the 70s. "From today's perspective, what one finds in RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX is less an attempt to destroy the codes of classical Hollywood cinema as intended by its makers and more a continuation of their critique of this cinema by way of film." (Winfried Pauleit)
In this series, we present archive prints in a precarious sate. The discussion that follows is dedicated to the decision-making processes with regards to selecting films to be rescued or restored, as well as the actual meaning of the concept of "saving a film".
On November 11, the focus is on three films that can be located somewhere between avant-garde, underground, and feminist cinema. Andrew Noren’s WIND VARIATIONS (1968), a medication on light, created by a curtain blowing in the wind in Manhattan, was shown at the Documenta 5 in 1972. CHUMLUM (Ron Rice, 1964) was created during the shoot for "Normal Love" by Jack Smith: superimpositions turn a break in shooting into a game of color and rhythm. AMY! (Laura Mulvey, 1980) is an homage to British pilot Amy Johnson, who in 1930 became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
This lecture series by Sabine Nessel is about questioning the relevance of archives for film historiographical research. By incorporating archival theories and concepts of concrete film archives, as well as by looking for archive particles in (film) historiographical positions, the relationship between film studies, the archive and difference gradually takes shape. SCHWITZKASTEN (John Cook, Austria 1978, 1.11.) shows the different stations in the everyday life of a worker in Vienna. The actors, all of whom non-professional, come from the same milieu they're portraying. René Allio's film MOI, PIERRE RIVIÈRE, AYANT ÉGORGÉ MA MÈRE, MA SOEUR ET MON FRÈRE (France 1976, 8.11.) is based on the dossier published by Michel Foucault about a legendary murder case in the history of law. Shot original locations with non-professional actors, the film is an archivological reenactment of the Foucault dossier. The dancers Bubbles and Judy in DANCE, GIRL, DANCE (Dorothy Arzner, USA 1940, 15.11.) couldn’t be more different. Rediscovered in the 70s, the film was read as a position of a feminist counter cinema. In DIZZY GILLESPIE (Les Blank, USA 1965, 22.11.), the famous trumpeter speaks about his understanding of jazz. Les Blank's usually collective works from the 60s and 70s are revealed as an archive of the musical (and food!) culture of Louisiana as well as of the Texan-Mexican border regions. THE BLUES ACCORDIN' TO LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS (USA 1968, 22.11.) shows Texan blues music as a culture of the street. GOD RESPECTS US WHEN WE WORK, BUT LOVES US WHEN WE DANCE (USA 1968, 22.11.) was created during the first big love-in in Los Angeles. CHULAS FRONTERAS (USA 1976, 29.11.) with music by Lydia Mendoza, Flaco Jiménez, Los Alegres de Terán and DEL MERO CORAZÓN (USA 1979, 29.11.) with performances by Little Joe & La Familia and Leo Garza are collaborations with Chris Strachwitz, founder of the record label Aarhoolie Records.
The lecture series, which is on Tuesdays, runs until February and is open to all those interested.
The next Filmmakers' choice event presented by Nicolas Cilins and Frank Westermeyer will take place on October 31 entitled "Agents Provocateurs: artists, strategies, objects".
The program is dedicated to filmmaking strategies which construct films as experimental situations. The artists both find and invent objects and tools to create work to test the real. Alongside the camera, these can be an object, a foreign being, or an imaginary point on a visual medium. The idea here is that of the agent provocateur, a silent form that provocatively involves the artist, the spectator, and the people and situations contained in the film in the confrontation with results of the cinematic experiment.
This lecture series by Sabine Nessel (Seminar for Film Studies at the FU Berlin) asks about the relevance of archives for film historical research and sets out into the archive itself to this end. What is the difference between film historiography and film archaeology? What powers are set free when university film studies meet a film institution’s collection? Specific films from the Arsenal archive will be presented, with the concepts of film studies, archive, and difference serving as a guide.
The lecture series starts on October 25 with the animal horror classic JAWS (Steven Spielberg, USA 1974), the primal anthropological fear of being eaten is played out effectively before a beach backdrop. The film will be shown as a 35-mm print in the (legendary) German dubbed version. The lecture series runs until February 2017 and is open to anyone interested.
Living Archive: films are alive, but film prints grow old. In our collection too, vinegar syndrome, red tinges, and prints that have shrunk over time are all to be found. In a new series, we want to present the symptoms of aging based on a series of examples and discuss with audiences what the future of each film might look like as part of the archive. We are starting on October 24 with the projection of a print that is suffering from vinegar syndrome. KRYLJA (Wings) by Larissa Shepitko (USSR 1966) tells the story of Nadezhda, who was a famous fighter pilot during the War and is now a headmistresses. She is held in high regard by society and her picture hangs in the local museum. Yet she enters into conflict with the younger generations again and again.
The series takes place monthly and will alternate with archive presentations from the Harun Farocki Institute from 2017 onwards.
On September 4, film expert Vaginal Davis presents our new series "Rising Stars, Falling Stars – Sweet 16 mm" for the second time at silent green Kulturquartier. On show is NOT A PRETTY PICTURE (USA 1976) by Hollywood director Martha Coolidge, who began her work as a documentary filmmaker. NOT A PRETTY PICTURE is based on her own experiences of date rape as a teenager. She mixes fictional scenes with documentary footage of herself working on the film and discussing the issues of sexual violence with her cast and crew, pushing all the participants to their limits. Made in 1976 and set in the 1960s, the film is also about the processes of social change which lends it particular relevance today.
Our first summer at silent green has begun! 57,050.20 kilos of analogue film are now stored at our new film archive facilities. The bright, sun-filled screening rooms have been fitted with blinds to make it possible for 16 and 35 mm film prints to be watched at the editing tables – the garden of the MOOS restaurant is just a stone’s throw away.
Why do we place such importance on housing analogue material and making it accessible to the public? Aren’t nearly all films available online anyway? This is far from true. Visit our archive tour on 24.8. at 6pm at the silent green.
This month's Filmmakers' Choice will be presented by Stefan Zeyen on August 22: Films on the margins of the screen and beyond: from extending the film space to include the audience (OVERSHOULDER, Stefan Zeyen, Germany 2012/16), to reducing cinema to simply film sound (WOCHENENDE, Walther Ruttmann, Germany 1930), to the de-coupling of language from thought (BOOMERANG, Richard Serra, USA 1974). The beauty of concerted action (BERLINFIEBER, Wolf Vostell, Ulrike Ottinger, West Germany 1973) and the compression of a story by superimposition (SSSHORTY OR SHORT STORY, Michael Snow, Kanada 2005). Finally, the marriage of this sound with that image (LES MAINS NÉGATIVES, Marguerite Duras, France 1979) and the change in the aggregate state from fluid to solid, from film to book (THE MOVIE FILES, Stefan Zeyen, Germany 2016).
Rising Stars, Falling Stars has had a makeover: After eight years, the next event on June 5 takes place for the first time in the domed hall of the silent green Kulturquartier in Wedding. As always, our film history expert Vaginal Davis and her pianist Daniel Hendrickson will select hidden treasures from Arsenal’s archive. The two will present them to the audience and reveal detailed insider information about the way the films, which have never been screened in public, were produced and received.
Ms Davis will concentrate on the slim, quick and light format, which for decades allowed filmmakers to intrude into nooks and crannies without having to heed the rules set by the big cinema industry - 16 mm. Arsenal's collection is home to thousands of pearls.
Our next event Filmmakers' Choice session on June 13 addresses strategies for measuring location in film: Four films put together by Constanze Fischbeck and Daniel Kötter range from the structuralist experimental film to ethnographic documentary. They center on the contingency of a real location in relationship to the cinematic construction of space and time. While Chris Kennedy measures the Credit River in rural Ontario, Clemens von Wedemeyer transforms seemingly diffuse research material on housing estates on the outskirts of Leipzig into a strictly composed reflection about transformations of urban space after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The spatial and social conditions of the "Polish market" on Potsdamer Platz in 1989 forced Emie Gehr to adopt an indirect strategy to document upheaval and change. The improvisational use of the camera was a means for Robert Fenz to depict New York and reflect on urban revolution itself.
Finally! We've moved into our new home at silent green for lively archival practice. There are 10,000 films on the shelves, the editing suites are set up, on the walls are posters that Maria Eichhorn once made for her work 23 short films / 23 film posters that looked at our collection. Arsenal's past and present are acquiring a new perspective and we're celebrating - with our audience as always.
At the opening on April 12, Prof. Vinzenz Hediger who set up the "Filmculture: Archiving, Programming, Presentation" MA at Frankfurt's Goethe-University will talk about contemporary perspectives regarding the term "cultural definition". Of course, there will also be films, music and surprises from the Moos Restaurant.
The next edition of Filmmakers' choice is presented by Melissa Dullius and Gustavo Jahn on April 12: Their selection "Corpos & Cosmos" shows a pulsating filmic body from works which examine moments of intimacy and desire and reveal the diversity of identities that inhabit us. In CHINESE CHECKERS and PÁTIO the game of seduction between two characters leads to a filmic form. A seductive camera in IN THE GRASS follows a masked woman on a meadow, while video images that have been transposed to film create an ethereal relationship between two contrasting women in DREAMS OF A VIRGIN. Visions of beauty follow each other in SLEEPY HAVEN and FIREWORKS and create a dreamlike atmosphere. CONNECTION and MOON PLAY feature footage of celestial bodies that enchant us with their dance and light.
For years, the film expert Vaginal Davis has been diving into Arsenal's archive to bring gems to the surface. Now, our analogue films have moved to silent green in Wedding - and Ms. Davis is moving too! From May onwards, her screenings will take place only every three months but they will be in bigger and more glamorous surroundings, in the domed room of a former crematorium. For her last event at Potsdamer Platz on March 27, Ms. Davis has chosen a West Berlin cult film: In TAXI ZUM KLO (FRG 1980) the director Frank Ripploh plays himself as a gay teacher trying to keep his private life at drag queen balls or in public toilets and professional life in the classroom separate. As always, Vaginal Davis invites you all for a drink in the Red Foyer. We thank her and her comrade-in-arms Daniel Hendrickson for all the wonderful evenings in Kino 2 and we look forward to new beginnings!
The silent green Kulturquartier has housed our analogue film archive since November 2015. The site (525 m2) also boasts viewing stations with editing suites and monitors. The official opening will take place this coming April.
Many of the films have been acquired over 45 Forum years. Since the Berlinale section was created in 1971, prints have been bought and some have been subtitled. The original idea was to ensure that the films would also be available to the public after the festival. From today's perspective, it was an unintended masterstroke of conservation. Films from many countries survived at Arsenal. Many were forgotten; others were ahead of their time and their significance is only now being discovered. Our archive thus opens up a new, very special film landscape: Each film can be seen as an attempt at the aesthetics of cinema, and considered as social and political contemporary practice with a view to the future. This moment of utopia is perhaps the key to a lively archive.
To make clear the contemporary nature of the collection, the Forum and Forum Expanded sections of the Berlinale are compiling a "reference list" of titles that have a connection to this year's program: Earlier films by guests or films whose memory is directly or indirectly reflected in new films. The films on this list, which will be published on our homepage, can be viewed at stations in the silent green Kulturquartier under specialist supervision.
After light enters the eye, quite complex processes follow to result in a meaningful impression. In a program entitled "The Visual Field", Karola Schlegelmilch will present films that investigate the act of seeing as the intersection between the mental and external world, as an individual, active interaction on Febraury 8. This happens, for example, through interventions in the frame, which manipulate the visual impressions by transferring an inner attitude through guiding the camera over the motif. Seeing is also reflected as a border with the other. The program was inspired by perception-based psychological research.
In the second part of this three-part series, film expert Vaginal Davis presents DIE KLAGE DER KAISERIN (THE COMPLAINT OF AN EMPRESS), directed by the dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch in 1989 on January 31. Using the 35-mm format, Bausch choreographed people and animals. The kaleidoscopic structure of atmospheres is accompanied by music from different places and times; it is at times eerie, at times a comical lament, told by bodies or body parts, gestures, mimicry and movements. As always, Vaginal Davis invites her guests to a post-screening drink.