february 2017, living archive

Living Archive: "ORG"

Fernando Birri’s ORG (Italy 1967–1978) is a monstrous film, extremely rarely screened since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 1979. After a 1991 retrospective of his films at Arsenal, Birri left behind a print of the nearly three-hour work in our archive. Only one more print is known to exist in the world.

As part of the project "Living Archive – Archive Work as a Contemporary Artistic and Curatorial Practice" the group "Entuziazm" (Michael Baute, Volker Pantenburg, Stefan Pethke) came across Birri’s film in Arsenal’s archive in 2011 and decided to look into it further. It was then digitized and new subtitles were provided.

The new version will be shown as part of the Forum program of this year’s Berlinale. arsenal edition will also release a DVD of ORG featuring additional material in February.


february 2017, living archive

FU-Lecture Series: Film Studies, The Archive, and Difference

This lecture series by Sabine Nessel (Seminar for Film Studies at the FU Berlin) explores the relevance of archives for research into film history and to this end goes into the archive itself. The cycle of anthropological difference is closed on February 7th: SWEETGRASS (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ilisa Barbash, USA 2009) is a documentary about herding sheep in Montana (USA) and a research project of Harvard University's Sensory Ethnography Lab. The first images show a herd of sheep in a snowy landscape. The camera leaves the group and closes in on one single sheep which suddenly stops chewing and looks into the camera with its big eyes. The Arsenal's archive, in which a 35-mm print of the film is located, thus proves itself to also be a place for animals. That's how the lecture series ends.

january 2017, living archive

FU Lecture Series: Film Studies, the Archive, and Difference

This lecture by Sabine Nessel looks at the relevance of archives for film-history research. The cycle, which began with feminist perspectives, will continue with two films from the 1970s that will be shown in restored versions in the digital format DCP: Chantal Akerman’s cinematographic magnum opus on the daily tasks of the eponymous figure JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES (Belgium/France 1975, 3.1.) and RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX (Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen, UK 1977, 10.1.), in which Laura Mulvey, author of a foundational text of feminist psychoanalytical film theory, not only appears in the film reading theory, but also co-directed it. In MEIN LEBEN TEIL 2 (My Life, Part II, Angelika Levi, Germany 2003, 17.1.), the filmmaker makes use of objects, photographs, sound and film recordings to look at what was (not) discussed in her family, and how "on macro and micro levels history is constantly being produced, archived, discussed, and classified" (Angelika Levi). In our final segment, this talk is devoted to the relevance of archives especially in terms of anthropological difference; Levi looks into the roles animals have played in the history of a film institution such as the Arsenal. The image of the great ape on the Empire State Building in KING KONG (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, USA 1933, 24.1.) is an art-historical legend that also leads us into the archives of 1930s production design and to the performances of "Gorilla Men" in Hollywood, who wore the often elaborately designed ape costumes. BESTIAIRE (Denis Côté, Canada/France 2012, 31.1.) is a precise, dialogue-less cinematographic study of various visual and auditory displays in which animals are shown and perceived by humans.

The lecture series, which is opem to everyone, runs every Tuesday and continues into February 2017.

january 2017, living archive

Public Screening—the Harun Farocki Institute Presents

Ingemo Engström’s graduation film DARK SPRING (West Germany 1970) was made at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film in Munich, where she began studying in 1967. After the premiere at a festival in Mannheim, Uwe Nettelbeck wrote in "Filmkritik": "Films like DARK SPRING […] do not translate into the language of those who immediately think they know what such films are about […] But more, DARK SPRING is the film of a woman and a women’s film in which women say something, namely: how they see things." Harun Farocki saw the film in 1971 at the Hamburger Filmschau. In the succeeding years, he worked closely with Engström; they made the 1975 film "Erzählen" (Telling) together.

We have not yet seen DARK SPRING, which is why we are presenting it in a public screening on January 7.

december 2016, living archive

Vaginal Davis Presents Rising Stars, Falling Stars: Sweet 16 mm Never Been Kissed

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."

december 2016, living archive

This Month's Filmmakers' Choice

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.

december 2016, living archive

FU Lecture Series: Film Studies, the Archive, and Difference

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.

december 2016, living archive

Public Screening on December 1st

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)

november 2016, living archive

This Month's Public Screening

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.

november 2016, living archive

FU Lecture Series: Film Studies, the Archive, and Difference

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.

october 2016, living archive

This month's Filmmakers' Choice

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.

october 2016, living archive

FU-Lecture Series: Film Studies, The Archive, and the Difference

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.

october 2016, living archive

Public Screening

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.

september 2016, living archive

Rising Stars, Falling Stars – Sweet 16 mm #2

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.

august 2016, living archive

Visit to our new archive

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.