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.
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.
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.
A new Rising Stars, Falling Stars phase begins. As usual, film expert Vaginal Davis will be presenting discoveries from our archive. Ms. Davis came to Berlin from Los Angeles in 2005 in order to work with the CHEAP Collective. Bearing in mind all her activities as an artist, author, DJ, and performance artist, we are very happy that this cinema expert has been sharing her film historical knowledge with Arsenal audiences on a monthly basis since 2007. She is supported – not just on the piano – by another member of the CHEAP Collective, Daniel Hendrickson.
The coming phase will be the last at the Arsenal cinema. From early 2016, the series will only take place every quarter, but on a bigger and more exciting scale in the domed hall of the silent green Kulturquartier. For it is here where we are now storing the 10,000 films from which Vaginal Davis makes her selection.
The final phase at Potsdamer Platz is small but perfectly formed: planned for 3 months, it's entitled "Letters from the Wardrobe". The focus is on costumes, make-up and hairstyles, production design and architecture. The first film in this phase on December 27 forms a link to the previous one, which was dedicated to music: DIVA by Jean-Jacques Beineix, the 1981 cult film in which a young man secretly records an opera concert by the diva he reveres and gets into difficulties when the tape is switched. A wardrobe story manages in the process to make the front page: "Who stole the diva's gown?"
The analogue film prints of Arsenal's archive have a new home. Since the beginning of November, they have been at the silent green Kulturquartier, a space for events and exhibitions in the listed premises of a former crematorium in Wedding. The move was made possible by private sponsorship and not only enables better storage for about 10,000 prints but also facilitates the creation of a living archive that takes into account production of knowledge and contemporary reception in connection with digitalization and restoration projects. The archive will open up new possibilities for research, work, experiments and exhibitions to complement what the two cinemas on Potsdamer Platz already do. We warmly welcome you to the official opening in spring 2016.
Since 2008, film expert Vaginal Davis has been inviting audiences to her monthly film evenings. Her anniversaries are dedicated to actress Louise Brooks, this time round in TAGEBUCH EINER VERLORENEN (DIARY OF A LOST GIRL) (G.W. Pabst, Germay 1929) on October 25. Thymian exudes a special attraction to men and falls pregnant. Cast out by her father, robbed of her child, and tortured at the facility where she lives, she ends up in a brothel. "And Louise Brooks", as the Berliner Tageblatt put it, "wanders in silent beauty through the film, scared, defiant, waiting, astonished, much like the girl to whom everything happens."
Soon a new edition of the series awaits us, with particular gems selected and presented by our archive expert Vaginal Davis with Daniel Hendrickson. But right now it's still about music. On September 27 the concert film STOP MAKING SENSE (Jonathan Demme, USA 1984) can be seen, which begins with David Byrne playing the song "Psycho Killer" solo on an acoustic guitar. Song by song and musician by musician, the other band members gradually assemble on stage until the Talking Heads are complete. Jonathan Demme filmed the band at a performance at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.
On August 30, Vaginal Davis presents a musical short film program of films from the 60s: alongside an episode of US television show SHINDIG, a musical revue in which Sam Cooke also performs, and the Polish animation film DWA KONCERTY (Two Concerts, Wacław Wajser, Poland 1966), which attempts to visualize music, two films by Georgian director Micheil Kobachidze are also being shown: KORTSILI (The Wedding USSR 1964) plays with social and musical conventions – including those of chanson singer Charles Aznavour – and KOLGA (The Umbrella, USSR 1967), in which an dancing umbrella carries out mischief. As always, the program will be rounded off with music and drinks in Kino 2.
Two films by Swedish documentary filmmakers Lennart Malmer and Ingela Romare have found their way into the Arsenal collection thanks to the "Visionary Archive"in project: EN NATIONS FÖDELSE (Birth of a Nation, Sweden 1973) and VREDENS POESI (Poetry of Anger, Sweden 1978).
The central moment of EN NATIONS FÖDELSE is Guinea-Bissau’s unilateral declaration of independence on September 24, 1973, when the state was officially founded. VREDENS POESI blends fiction and documentary to create a personal report of Malmer’s recollections of those years.
The next Rising Stars, Falling Stars – We Must Have Music! presented by film expert Vaginal Davis is on July 26: Broken promises, repressed passions, and untimely deaths ensnare two families in a tragic labyrinth of spiritual obsession. THE DYBBUK (Michał Waszyński, Poland 1937) is the adaptation of S. Ansky’s 1917 play of the same name. Shot entirely in Yiddish with the biggest Jewish talents in Polish film, the musical shows the cultural wealth of Shtetl life and Polish Jewry shortly before the Second World War in a series of exquisite music and dance numbers. Film critic Parker Tyler called the film one of "the most celebratory records of the mythical power of the spirit that imagination has ever committed to celluloid."
Followed by drinks and music as always.
In 1936, Fred Zinnemann and Emilio Gómez Muriel co-directed REDES, the story of a struggle against the exploitation of fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico. The tragic death of a child because of inadequate medical care leads to solidarity between the fishermen and growing resistance against a wholesaler. Paul Strand was the cameraman. Silvestre Revueltes - "the great free spirit of Mexican music" - was commissioned to compose a film score for the first time. The event on June 28 will be hosted by Film expert Vaginal Davis.
Two years ago, Arsenal initiated a translocal experiment. The "Visionary Archive" project, which is supported by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, places different cinematographic contexts in Berlin, Bissau, Johannesburg, Cairo, and Khartoum in relationship with one another.
The central question here is what transcultural, curatorial and artistic work with archives and archival research can look like today. Alongside Arsenal and the perspective that comes from its unique in-house collection, the project partners are the non-governmental project Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre (Cairo), the independent cinema The Bioscope (Johannesburg), the archive of deceased filmmaker Gadalla Gubara (Khartoum), and the Geba Filmes association (Bissau).
From May 21-31, the participants will be giving insights into their material, presenting their findings and discussing open questions with invited guests and audiences. This festival brings the project to a close even as there are still many things yet to be accomplished and takes in films, exhibitions, three workshops, and open-air cinema screenings. In addition to Arsenal, the festival is also taking place at the Scriptings and Archive Kabinett project spaces. The festival language is English.
On May 17, Vaginal Davis presents OPENING NIGHT by John Cassavetes (USA 1977). Gena Rowlands as a "woman under the influence": For theater star Myrtle Gordon, her life and her roles have fused together into an inextricable whole. When a young admirer of hers is killed in an accident, she develops a resistance to the play and to her role of an aging woman and succumbs ever further to alcohol. The premiere threatens to end in a scandal. Bo Harwood’s music was described as follows: "This is film music in the raw, as rough and unpolished as Cassavetes' movies." (Peter Rinaldi)
Followed by drinks and music as always.
On April 26 Vaginal Davis is presenting Alan Parker's BUGSY MALONE (USA 1976) which is set in Chicago during the Prohibition era. Bugsy Malone works occasionally for Fat Sam, who only has his bar, a couple of gangsters and the singer Tallulah (Jodie Foster) left since Dandy Dan's gang took away all his business. Bugsy falls in love with Blousey Brown who tries in vain to to perform and recruits men from a soup kitchen to capture Dan's arms cache. The machine guns are real, but they are loaded with cream. A gangster musical with an all-children cast.
Flora Gomes’ sensational feature film debut "Mortu Nega" (1988) was long considered considered the beginning of cinema in Guinea-Bissau, and the director has remained one of the industry's most important actors. His early work as a documentarist of the Guinean liberation struggle is less known - it is a collective film oeuvre interwoven with the decolonization process that has come back into focus thanks to Arsenal's "Visionary Archive" project. (Forum Expanded panel at the Berlinale on 11.2).
The cinema evening on 17.2 gives an opportunity to see and discuss two films with Flora Gomes: his feature film PO DI SANGUI (1996) about an exodus from a drought-threatened village community, and the last film by the Senegalese visionary of cinema Djibril Diop Mambéty - LA PETITE VENDEUSE DE SOLEIL (1999).
Since 2013 the project Visionary Archive has been linking up film research in Berlin, Bissau, Johannesburg, Cairo, and Khartoum. This research uses a wide variety of strategies to ask similar questions: What can a local archive of films contribute to practices of memory and emancipation in the face of social upheavals and processes of oppression? What kinds of (hi)stories are stored in these archives and their films? What processes of revision do we run into when watching this disparate, idiosyncratic, and fragmentary material?
As part of Forum Expanded, there will be a joint presentation of the project on February 11, using sounds and images to performatively repose these questions, all the while providing insight into the practices and methods of the ongoing subprojects: the South African B-Scheme films, made for a black audience from the 1970s to the late ’80s; the lifework of Sudanese filmmaker Gadalla Gubara, which bridges both genres and eras; Revisiting Memory, an archival research project related to periods of transition at the Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre in Cairo; the collection of documentary films from the 1970s that are partly held in Guinea-Bissau; and the collection of films by African filmmakers at the archive of the Arsenal, which is closely linked to the history of the Berlinale’s Forum.
The Forum is showing two of the so-called B-Schemes films: the 1973 gangster film JOE BULLET as well as UMBANGO (THE FEUD), a Western of 1986. Director and producer Tonie van der Merwe will be our guest in Berlin for the screening of his films on February 6. Both films can be seen again on February 14 and 15, presented by the initiator of the B-Schemes project, Darryl Els.
During her search for musical highlights in Arsenal's film collection, the artist and performer Vaginal Davis stumbled on a film composition by Chantal Akerman: The musical GOLDEN EIGHTIES (Belgium 1985) is set in a fictional shopping arcade in Brussels whose hair salons and clothing stores provide the stage for grand emotions. There is desire, adoration, attempts at seduction and lovers meeting again after a long time. In the neon light of the shop windows, between the snack-bars and the escalators flow tears, but there is also laughter, dancing and singing. After the screening on 25 January Ms. Davis will serve up drinks, music and gossip as always in Kino 2.
"Marines Against Lovesickness" is the translation of the German title for the film FOLLOW THE FLEET by Mark Sandrich (USA 1936), which our musical film expert Vaginal Davis presents on December 28 to complement our musical series. The story, based on the theatre play Shore Leave by Hubert Osborne, is already alluded to by the title: a lovesick revue dancer joins the marines and then meets the woman that caused his troubles when on shore leave. Yet much more important than this are the spectacular performances by Fred Astaire and his partner Ginger Rogers.
On November 30, our archivist Vaginal Davis presents EL TANGO ES UNA HISTORIA (Tango is a Story, Mexico 1983): Humberto Rios originally only wanted to document the first tango festival to take place in his home in exile of Mexico in June 1980 and above all the three most famous representatives of tango music who appeared there: Osvaldo Pugliese, the old master, Astor Piazzolla, the renewer, and Susana Rinaldi, the most vehement voice in tango. But the political events in the military run Argentina did not just influence the artists’ performances but also the film itself.
7-year anniversary: just like every year, silent film expert Vaginal Davis celebrates her RSFS anniversary with an hommage to actress Louise Brooks. This time round, on October 26, she presents PRIX DE BEAUTÉ (France 1930) by Augusto Genina, which was shot as a silent film and finished as a sound film. Louise Brooks plays a shorthand typist who wins a beauty content and becomes a celebrated actress. In the final scene of the film, she is shot dead under her own film image. Eunice Martins provides a live piano accompaniment for the silent version.
“Visionary Archive“ is divided into five thematic, interconnected projects, all of which investigate what contemporary, transcultural, curatorial and artistic work with archives and archival research could look like. The “B-Schemes – An Archive Project and Film Program on Film Productions for Black Viewers in 1970s and 1980s South Africa“ project is dedicated to carrying out detailed archive research on a corpus of South African films that has still not received the research attention it deserves, with the goal of carrying out a critical reappraisal of these films and giving them new visibility. The project is directed by Darryl Els in collaboration with Marie-Hélène Gutberlet. The result of this research alongside a selection of films from the B-Schemes pool will be presented as part of the closing event in Berlin in May 2015. From October 24 until 26 three of the films from the B-Schemes will be screened at The Bioscope Independent Cinema, a cinema space in Johannesburg co-founded and directed by Darryl Els.
In October, the fourth edition of It all depends takes place as part of the Visionary Archive project. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s APPUNTI PER UN'ORESTIADE AFRICANA (Notes Towards an African Orestes, Italy 1969) will be screened on October 1. Narrated in the style of a cinematic notebook, Pasolini’s interest in adapting the ancient tragedy for the screen using African actors is mixed with a stubbornly colonial look at realities in Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia. The structure of the cinematic notebook and the cultural ideological charge it carries demand that Pasolini’s film be placed in context with two further films. In her video work NOTES ON PASOLINI'S FORM OF A CITY (Germany 2013), Sandra Schäfer examines Pasolini’s projections of Africa before the backdrop of his critique of modernity. We are showing the film on October 3 together with Haile Gerima’s radical social satire MIRT SOST SHI AMIT (Harvest, 3,000 Years, Ethiopia 1975), shot in Ethiopia at the end of Haile Selassie’s rule.
Vaginal Davis, the founder and curator of this legendary program featuring films from our archive, found a 16-mm print of COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER a 1980 film by Michael Apted on the shelves. It tells the story of the country singer Loretta Lynn. The coal miner’s daughter met war veteran Doolittle Mooney Lynn at the age of 13. He started hitting her after they got married. Nonetheless, they tried their luck together, setting up house and having several children. Doolittle discovered Loretta Lynn’s musical talent and supported her singing career. She then became so successful that he was forced to take a backseat while she went on tour with her famous friend Patsy Cline. (28.9.)
The sixth Arsenal Summer School will be held from August 21–23, 2014. It will concentrate on Arsenal's important relation to its own archive, drawing from the ongoing project Visionary Archive. Under the title "REANIMATION & REENACTMENT. Forms of Cinematic Reencounter", it will focus on the specific forms of re-seeing by which the past becomes present in the cinema.
As a central component of this Summer School, participants will come together to watch films from the Arsenal archive. The selection of films focuses on the diverse forms of re-stagings, re-enactments, and the encounter with spaces where the past lives on, transparently or covertly. Particular attention will be given to films from anti-colonialist, non-European cinema and the history of resistance remembered in them. In this constellation, the view to the archive falls on films that themselves act as an archive. They assemble and conserve images, sounds, and viewpoints, they fill in some of the gaps in knowledge and open up others. They allow us to get a view to cinema that faces up to history, collectively experienced, but remembered with contradictions.
The collective visualization of these different techniques of film memory in the Summer School is not meant as an innocuous, distanced view from the outside. Rather, we will make use of the possibilities of reencountering that are inherent in each film, in which there is always something of the past involved in a possible future.
The number of participants is limited. Please register by August 15.
This month we are welcoming Lara Khaldi and Yazan Khalili in the framework of Living Archive at Arsenal Cinema. They are in Berlin with the support of the Goethe-Institut Ramallah.
On August 19 they will talk about their new lecture performance "Love letters to Mars". For one month they have been researching films in the Arsenal archive which link to the futuristic scenario of their lecture performance: a 2026 Mars mission creates an irreparable rift between two lovers regarding the question of whether the Earth should be saved or new societies and colonies founded on other planets. Utopia and starting over are two of the central themes. In Arsenal’s archive they became interested in the Latvian film 235.000.000 by Uldis Braus, Biruta Veldre and Laima Schurgina from 1966 and Babette Mangoltes THE SKY ON LOCATION (USA 1982).
The next "Rising Stars, Falling Stars – We Must Have Music"-event will take place on June 29.
"Whatever the idea is, it's never something you can just tell to another person and be sure that they know what you mean, so … just play the music." That's how the pioneer of free jazz Ornette Coleman put it, and that’s how Shirley Clarke shot ORNETTE: MADE IN AMERICA. It begins with the Skies of America symphony and ends in applause. In between, the former dancer abandons herself to Ornette’s music, his images and his rhythm of life. With William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Buckminster Fuller, Don Cherry, Yoko Ono, Charlie Haden, Robert Palmer, Jayne Cortez, John Rockwell and many others. Miss Davis, who will introduce the film, invites the audience to a post-screening reception.
As always followed by drinks and music.
"From Boé to Berlin – A Mobile Laboratory on the Film History of Guinea Bissau": On May 23 the exhibition "Regulado" by Filipa César und Suleimane Biai opens at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) as part of the Visionary Archive project. In her films and installations, Filipa César explores the post-colonial constellations that were spawned by the recent history of Portugal. Since 2011, her research is focused on the film production in Guinea-Bissau, the beginnings of which were closely linked to the struggle for liberation. "Regulado" (2014) is Filipa César’s second collaboration with Suleimane Biai. In the framework of Visionary Archive both filmmakers, together with Sana na N’Hada, organize a mobile laboratory on the film history of Guinea-Bissau under the title "From Boé to Berlin". The central module of this project is a mobile cinema throughout Guinea-Bissau, where the recently re-emerged archive material from the national film archive INCA (Instituto Nacional de Cinema e Audiovisual) shall be brought up to date, among other things, in the places of their origin.
In the "It all depends" series at Arsenal on 25.5., they will be showing the results of their film shoot in Guinea Bissau in February 2014 and presenting their planned traveling cinema project, which is intended to bring back films from the decade of decolonialization (1970–1980) to the places they were originally made. Two films from our archive (POR PRIMERA VEZ by Octavio Cortázar, REASSEMBLAGE by Trinh T. Minh-ha) and a documentary by Sana na N'Hada from the early years of the independent Guinea Bissau lay out film historical threads for the discussion.
Following "Les parapluies de Cherbourg", Miss Vaginal Davis once again presents a film by Jacques Demy on 25.5.: UNE CHAMBRE EN VILLE (F 1982). The director himself named the film, in which all the dialogue is sung, a "musical tragicomedy". During the shipyard strike in Nantes in 1955, a young worker and the married daughter of a penniless baroness fall in love. Just as the film begins and ends with a confrontation between strikers and police, this love affair not in keeping with the daughter’s station ends bloodily.
For the second time now, Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art has been able to use funding from the German Foreign Office to realize a project aimed at preserving film holdings: the body of film work of Sudanese filmmaker Gadalla Gubara (1920–2008). Gadalla Gubara worked for over 50 years as a director of both features and documentaries. Until his death, he ran the first private film studio in Khartoum: Studio Gad. In light of both a lack of technical and financial resources and precarious storage conditions, advanced levels of material decay were threatening the very existence of this cinematic legacy. With funding from the German Foreign Office’s Cultural Heritage Program, the films were able to be digitized in Berlin in Autumn 2013. The archival holdings of the National Film Institute in Guinea-Bissau (INCA – Instituto Nacional de Cinema e Audiovisual) have already been digitized in 2012 as part of the "Animated Archive" project.
Re-encounters with African cinema in joint film viewing sessions are a central component of the translocal research project Visionary Archive. On 30.3 four South African artists will be our guests. They are currently resident artists of the Constanza Macras/Dorky Park's performance project "On Fire" in Berlin. The films MUEDA, MEMORIA E MASSACRE (Mozambique 1979) COME BACK, AFRICA (South Afrika/USA 1958) and MATSOGO (South Afrika 2013) will open up associative approaches to discuss body politics, working on history and the role of performance art in "stating the plurality of singularity" (A. Mbembe) in southern Africa, with Lucky Kele, Mmakgosi Kgabi, Zanele Muholi, Mamela Nyamza and Lerato Shadi. (th)
For the second time, we present as part of the Forum and then again at Arsenal on February 25 an earlier contribution to the Forum: GHASHIRAM KOTWAL (India 1977) is a Yukt Film Cooperative film based on an eponymous play that was very successful at the time. It combines the stylistics of theater with experimental cinema to describe the last years of the Maratha Empire before the British take over.
GHASHIRAM KOTWAL has been digitalized thanks to the kind support of the German Embassy in New Delhi and has been released as an Arsenal Edition DVD.
For the Berlin premiere of Clemens von Wedemeyer’s film MUSTER (Germany 2012, January 18 at Arsenal Cinema), we have invited him to take a look at our collection and have made both of our cinemas and the foyer available to him for one day. The program A DAY’S PLEASURE, BEHIND THE SCREEN, which we will be presenting January 19, evolved through this invitation. "What would it be like if you broke down the walls of a multiplex cinema, if those watching entirely different films were to suddenly come together in order to watch separate films? The experiment: two complementing programs will be shown in parallel, with audience members able to choose and stroll between the two of them with the same ticket. The secret shuffling out of the cinema and the distracting sound of the door shutting become a part of a dispersed shared performance here. Much like during a film festival, only part of this marathon curated program can actually be seen, with another part of it always being missed in its place. The inspiration for the performance were two films by Charlie Chaplin." (Clemens von Wedemeyer)
Exactly 40 years ago, in November 1973, the first international women's film conference took place at the old Arsenal in Welserstraße and the primary school opposite. It was organized by Filmmakers Claudia von Alemann and Helke Sander, who presented 45 films from seven countries - this was tantamount to a pioneering achievement. They invited 250 participants who were active in women's groups. On top of that, women who worked in the media came and thanks to the conference/festival they were able to build up a network for the first time. The same was true for the filmmakers. Most screenings were premieres and thus the event can also be considered to be the first women’s film festival in the world, with films made by and about women. There had never been a women's film festival of this size before. However, in the forefront was the establishment of a public discourse. In this sense, the event was like a model and in the following years it was emulated and extended in many cities, for example in Frankfurt and Munich (by Angela Haardt). The issues examined were "Women in the labor struggle, women in the depiction of the media, women and Paragraph 218, sexuality, role behavior, the women's movement in Europe and the US." Films of all lengths and genres that picked up on these themes critically were invited. In 1993, Arsenal, the "Blickpilotin" association and the "Übung am Phantom" group revisited the event after 20 years. Angela Melitopoulos also examined it in her "Möglich-keitsraum" events at the HKW and Arsenal. Now, four decades have passed.
We invite you to join us on Sunday November 10 to re-watch the 28 largely short films that have been in Arsenal's collection since 1973. Claudia von Alemann and Helke Sander and Angela Melitopoulos and Stefanie Schulte Strathaus will guide audiences through the day's program and discuss it with members of the public and some of the participants of the November 1973 event.
It is with great sadness that we received the news that our friend, colleague and Living Archive participant Ian White died on Saturday, October 16, at the age of 41.
Ian White was a curator, author, artist and teacher. In his long collaboration with the London film institution LUX he initiated, organized and curated numerous project, among them the Associate Artist Programme. As a jury member and curator he was a regular guest at the International Shortfilm Festival in Oberhausen. He also worked for Whitechapel Gallery and the Frieze Art Fair.
His connection to the Arsenal started in 2009, when he spent three months in our house as an Arsenal curator in residency, in a program organized in cooperation with the DAAD German Academic Exchange Service. During his stay, he curated the program "It's Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But The Situation in Which He Lives: Art, Cinema, Context Now", which addressed the relationship between artistic and curatorial practice - between a film presentation and its contexts. Ian‘s work in general and this project in particular, were a major inspiration for the concept of "Living Archive - Archival work as a contemporary curatorial and artistic practice".
The next public screening will take place on October 9. TA' DET SOM EN MAND, FRUE! (Take it Like a Man, Madam!, Denmark 1975) by the "Red Sister" collective (Mette Knudsen, Elisabeth Rygaard, Li Vilstrup) will be screened. The film has been presented at the International Forum of New Cinema in 1975. Erika Gregor will be present to discuss the film which is about Ellen Rasmussen, a 50-year-old middle-class woman, in an average marriage. She drinks and has all the known symptoms of housewife neurosis. Suddenly she has a dream in which gender roles are reversed.
This month Vaginal Davis presents a film by Avant-garde filmmaker John Abraham, an original character in Indian film history. AGRAHARATHIL KAZHUTHAI (Donkey in a Brahmin Village, India 1977) is the second and perhaps most famous of his four films, and the only one in Tamil. Using allegory and satire, it is the story of a donkey who one day enters a village dominated by upper caste Brahmins. To the outrage of the villagers, a professor adopts him. In his fable about guilt and innocence, Abraham criticizes intolerance and superstition among the Brahmins. (22.9. followed by drinks and music)
Auguso Pinochet's military putsch of 11. September 1973 brought a violent end to the attempt to establish a democratic socialist state in Chile. Called "el golpe" in Chile, the coup marks its 40th anniversary this month. Therefore, on September 11 we are showing a program curated by Florian Wüst that examines social and economic inequalities in early 1970s Chile and sees them as the basis for the political clashes. REPORTAJE A LOTA documents living and working conditions in the mining town of Lota before Salvador Allende's election. Peter Nestler's CHILEFILM analyzes the long history of imperialistic exploitation and the class struggle. The situation immediately after the putsch is depicted in CONTRA LA RAZON Y POR LA FUERZA: Santiago in a state of war, the villa district celebrating, the workers' settlements in mourning. With an introduction by Florian Wüst.
Due to the great interest, public screenings will be held again starting this month, providing an opportunity to get to know the wide extent of the archive. In the coming public screenings, we will be focusing on the films from the "1st International Women’s Film Seminar of West Germany and West Berlin" in 1973. The original event was held at the Arsenal’s former location in Welserstrasse and organized by the directors Helke Sander and Claudia von Alemann, who will be present on September 10.
For the "model seminar", as it was called at the time, which was followed by similar events in other German cities, approx. 45 short and full-length films were shown, some of which are still in our collection today. The films were meant above all to serve the purposes of social education and agitation. One of the films included was YEAR OF THE WOMAN by Sandra Hochman (USA 1972, OV, 82 min), which is the first film we view. It had previously been presented at the International Forum of New Cinema and marks a milestone in feminist (film) history. It is the first feature-length film in the USA that was exclusively produced by women. It documented how, for the first time, women at the 1972 Democratic Party Convention in Miami conquered the political world that had been dominated by men. “Sandra Hochman wanted to show a new awareness of the dignity of women and she realized her intention by means of a hilariously funny film, in which a large number of prominent people appear, as do many committed members of various international women’s organizations,” was how it read in the Forum catalogue in 1973. The list of participants is long: Alongside Betty Friedan, Flo Kennedy, German Grier, or Shirley McLaine we also see Norman Mailer and Warren Beatty. Free admission.
The Living Archive project is entering a new phase. One of the most important results so far has been to acquire an impression of the variety of the Arsenal's collection. What was detectable before was only the tip of the iceberg.
That's why we continue to present events organized by project participants and other archive researchers and to organize our monthly public screenings. Florian Wüst's "El golpe" event on September 11 is a continuation of his project "“So They Go and Buy – Thoughts on Chilean and West German Films of the Early 1970s". At the upcoming public screening event on September 10 we will be viewing YEAR OF THE WOMEN by Sandra Hochman (USA 1973). And as a third event this month, Vaginal Davis will be presenting an Indian film from the year 1977 as part of her Living Archive project "Rising Stars, Falling Stars - We Must Have Music!".
We look forward to making further discoveries with the audience that will not only lead to new cinematographic experiences but also to digitalization, restoration and programming projects.
We are pleased to present five new DVD releases realized through "Living Archive": Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s avant-garde films RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX and AMY! (GB 1977 & 1980), Deepa Dhanrajs pioneering film-political work KYA HUA IS SHAHAR KO? (What Has Happened to this City?, India, 1986), Philip Scheffner’s THE HALFMOON FILES and DAY OF THE SPARROW (Germany 2007 & 2010), a DVD featuring classics of queer cinema by Sheila McLaughlin and Lynne Tillman (INSIDE OUT, COMMITTED and SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS, USA 1976–84) and the cinematic oeuvre of the Berlin filmmaker, photographer, networker, story and image collector Riki Kalbe with a total of 15 films from 1976 to 1998. The Arsenal cinema will be showing all films from July 2-7 (for program details please see arsenal cinema / program).
The catalogue presents a new and unique access to the archive of the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, which sets new standards in dealing with a film collection. 37 artists, performers, curators and scholars were invited to develop their own perspectives in dealing with the archive and to implement and present their projects. For two years, the Arsenal archive was the starting point for the multi-perspective approach of participants hailing from USA, India, South Africa, Israel, Brazil, Jordan, Britain and Germany. This produced an endless variety of projects: retrospectives of Soviet, Chilean, Spanish and Cuban films; the reappraisal of Riki Kalbe and Ludwig Schönherr's oevre; a cinema of decolonization; a cross-sectional analysis of the year 1978; KEYwording – the importance of keywords for the functioning of an archive; an archeology of cinema or a program on cinematic explorations of national identities.
From June 4–30 we will be celebrating the closure of "Living Archive – Archive Work as a Contemporary Artistic and Curatorial Practice" with a month-long festival with film programs, sound works, exhibitions, performances, discussions and introductory events. All 37 participating artists, filmmakers, performers, musicians, curators, and scholars, as well as the four Goethe Institute awardees from India, South Africa, Jordan, and Brazil will be presenting their projects. A festival pass is available at the box office for 50 Euros as well as a catalogue with texts by all participants.
Dorothee Wenner's Living Archive project "Family Affairs" – developed in close cooperation with Erika and Ulrich Gregor – is a personal, almost private – and yet hopefully insightful – collection of stories about single films in Arsenal's archive, which were either shown in the Berlinale Forum section or were purchased, given as gifts or arrived in Berlin via other channels. Indeed it has often been a question of chance and happenstance, preferences of taste, political convictions, financial restrictions or tactical moves that have brought certain films into our archive. On the occasion of Arsenal's 50th birthday, we are presenting the first series of these "netflicks" as part of Living Archive on our website and in the cinema foyer.
Numerous publications are being published in the context of the Living Archive project. In adition to the Living Archive catalogue, "Rising Stars, Falling Stars", a broshure accompanying Vaginal Davis' series at the Arsenal cinema has already been published as well as eleven books within the framework of the project "KEYwording". The publication "NOW! Extended" will be available soon. Madhusree Dutta and Ines Shaber’s project "KEYwording – Notes on Enculturation of Words and Word Practice within the Image Archive" deals with the importance of tagging and annotation for the functioning of an archive. The Arsenal has abandoned the convention of keywording because "the given categories do not and cannot be applied to many of the films Arsenal is collecting." Inspired by this statement, the project aims to create a cross-cultural dialogue on the usage of words and their expanses in the context of myriad theories, practices, associations and actions within the field of cultural productions.
What can I see when I have a filmstrip in my hands. How do I find a film in the archive? Which pictures remain with me after a program of shorts? Over 200 Berlin schoolchildren were able to gain an insight into Arsenal's film collection. They curated their own programs from short, mainly experimental, films in a playful way. They also drew their recollections of films. Stefanie Schlüter presents the results in an exhibition and three events for families and schools. Films, programs and drawings made by the children will be shown. They will also provide live scores. The project was supported by the filmmakers Ute Aurand, Robert Beavers, Milena Gierke and the silent movie pianist Eunice Martins. (For children aged 6 and above, 9.–13.6.)
Living Archive is approaching the (preliminary) finish line: Throughout the month of June, the participants of the project will present the results of their research at the Arsenal and at KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Save the whole month! Also, the Arsenal turns 50! We will kick off the celebration with a special evening on June 4. Due to the June preparations, there will be no Living Archive events this month, except for Rising Stars, Falling Stars on May 26. Also, we inaugurate a viewing station in the "Studiolo" of the KW with a selection of films, which have been (re-)discovered through the Living Archive project.
Stefanie Schlüter invites schoolchildren to Arsenal with her "Living Archive for children, with children" project. What can a film archive do, what can films do for the aesthetic and cultural edcuation of young people growing up in the digital age? The center of her project, which is primarily directed at elementary pupils, is the Arsenal's comprehensive collection of experimental films. These can confront the viewer with an unusual view of things, they are often playful in form and deal with questions of perception at the intersection between film and other arts.
Our last public screening for some time is taking place on April 10. Since the Living Archive project began in June 2011, participants have selected films once a month to watch and discuss with the public. There have been rediscoveries and unexpected treasures, which have aroused a great deal of interest. That’s why the series will resume from July onwards.
We are looking forward to a special screening in April: Together with the audience, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, artistic director of the project Living Archive, will spontaneously select films from the Arsenal archive and project them.
On March 24, Vaginal Davis presents "Rising Stars, Falling Stars – We Must Have Music!". This month, Ms. Davis is presenting a rarity from the archive, a film by one of the most important directors of early Egyptian cinema: Muhammad Karim. The film ZEINAB (Egypt 1950, 35mm, OV/Ges, 111 min) will be screened. ZEINAB is a sound remake of his eponymous 1930 silent movie. Both films are based on Muhammad Husein Haikal's novel written in 1914, about a peasant girl trapped between social and family convention and her own hopes. The criticism of traditional family structures and arranged marriages is developed in a romantic and nostalgic aesthetic style. ZEINAB's Soundtrack is a conglomerate of classical music and western orchestral music and it plays a similar role as in Indian Bollywood productions. Followed by drinks and music as always.