The next edition of our series Filmmakers' Choice will be presented by Felipe Bragança on April 26: Two films about the projections and representations of traumatic moments in the relationship between the African continent and Europe's colonial policy and violence. ESCAPE FROM MY EYES (Felipe Bragança, Brasil/Germany 2015) is about a group of African refugees in Berlin in 2013. MUEDA – MEMÓRIA E MASSACRE (Ruy Guerra, Mozambique 1979) is the dramatic representation and documentation of one of the most violent moments in Mozambican history. Made by the Brazilian- Mozambican director Ruy Guerra, MUEDA, which combines re-enacted scenes with interviews, is considered the first feature film to be made in independent Mozambique. Both films try in different ways to achieve a feeling of memory through their characters' contemporary reinterpretations.
We have had a new Living Archive grant holder since February: The Off-Nollywood filmmaker and critic and co-founder of the Lagos Film Society Didi Cheeka. As the initiator of the "Reclaiming History, Unveiling Memory" project, Cheeka now has the task of working through the recently discovered film archive of Nigeria’s Colonial Film Unit. Arsenal is supporting this activity and currently restoring Adamu Halilu's film "Shaihu Umar" (1976). Meanwhile, Didi Cheeka is also researching Arsenal's archive. One of his first discoveries was the film REMPARTS D'ARGILE (Ramparts of Clay, Jean-Louis Bertuccelli, France/Algeria 1970), which in 1971 was announced as follows in the catalogue for the first Berlinale Forum: "With (…) long takes, the film begins like a documentary about a remote settlement on the edge of the desert. Pictures of a marriage, of the men's difficult work under a scorching sun and of lessons at a primitive school slip in. Confusingly though, a 19-year-old woman appears in the foreground. She was adopted by a family, never went to school and is now trying to catch up with her schooling, from what the children report from class. She is on the margins of the community, more tolerated than integrated. Her hour comes when the men one day refuse to carry out the difficult work of breaking rocks for the pittance that one of the city officials hands out."
We are showing the film in a public screening on April 7.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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)