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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
For the short film day on the shortest day of the year, on December 21 filmmaker and curator Maike Mia Höhne presents a program dedicated to filmmaker Chantal Akerman (1950–2015), who died recently. We never met. Her work was already with me. Now she's gone. "Go into the light", sings Almut Klotz, "and don't get lost while you do – go into the light and be free."
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.
In Greek, the word "autopsy" means "to see with your own eyes". This film program, which is presented by Annika Larsson on October 19, is dedicated to three works that involve us in the act of seeing, films that make us their witnesses. Positioned somewhere between documentary, fiction, experiment, and portrait, they defy such standard categories as authentic or false, true or constructed. The program begins with Peter Weiss' und Hans Nordenström's once-censored political documentary about a youth detention facility in Uppsala from 1957, followed by Yoko Ono's one-minute slowed-down EYE BLINK (1966), before coming to a close with Shirley Clarke's PORTRAIT OF JASON (1966), which Clarke described as "two hours of real time, not film time".
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.
This month's Filmmakers' Choice is presented by Martin Ebner on August 31.
In 1966, George Maciunas quietly demonstrated via his Flux Film Anthology that at the dawn of the information age, merely claiming that a film exists was enough to make said film real. Three further works by George Landow, Richard Serra and Hollis Frampton from the 70s also explore the act of reading over time, with the use of music also playing a particular role here. Carried by Monteverdi's madrigal "Zefiro torna", the program ends with a colorful, sad farewell to Maciunas from his Lithuanian companion Jonas Mekas.
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.
Our next "Filmmakers' Choice" will be presented by Carola Spadoni on June 15.
In 1968, to come to terms with reality meant to overcome the patriarchal structures of academic knowledge and to enrich it with personal as well as collective experience. A continuum of love, rebellion and radical decisions spread around the streets of Rome; and life and art became inseparable. The area around Piazza Navona and Trastevere - in which workers still lived at the time - became the home, stage and school of experimenting youths. At the same time, film was declared a political act instead of an artistic endeavor. Political speeches, the dialectic of "stream of consciousness", performative, "mise en scène", intimacy, background noises and the self-perception of the cinema moved into the forefront. We will screen rarely seen Italian films, fragments of a discourse about Rome in '68 and its unique echo.
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.
The next Filmmakers' choice event will be presented by Melissa Dullius and Gustavo Jahn on April 20: Jorge Sanjinés (born in 1936) co-founded the film collective UKAMAU in 1962. LA NACIÓN CLANDESTINA (The Secret Nation, Bolivia 1989) examines the main themes of his work, which lend the film its unique narrative: The worldview of the Aymara people, who perceive time to be circular and consider themselves as having a collective identity; the conflicts between the indigenous people and the powers-that-be, and above all the identity problems portrayed by the protagonist Sebastian Mamani, someone who rejects his origins but at the same time is not accepted by another culture and therefore gets lost.
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.
Rainer Bellenbaum is to present the next event of our series Filmmakers' Choice on February 16: This selection of films navigates on different timelines through the landscapes they have in their sights. With FÄRBLEIN, we headed east after the fall of the Berlin Wall to record the traces of a disappearing colorful urban landscape. The way Clarissa Thieme frames the scenes of war crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina creates a web of perseverance, overgrownness, passing time and new beginnings like a varied pattern of chords WHAT REMAINS. By contrast, in UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE ON THE GRASS by Christine Noll Brinckmann the time changes and close-ups of a chaotic garbage pile compiled of furniture lead to the grotesque. Hollis Frampton's one-minute films, which were made for his unfinished Magellan Cycle, are a laconic testimony to the spatial, dynamic and social wealth of cinematographic references to location.
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.
2015 will be dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust – a subject that is of particular significance for our institution, given that the cinematic engagement with the Holocaust has formed a key concern of our work since the very foundation of our association in 1963, then called the Friends of the German Film Archive. This is still apparent to this day, whether in our cinema program, that of the Berlinale Forum we organize, or in our arsenal distribution portfolio. One of the most prominent events at the 1986 Forum was thus the German premiere of Claude Lanzmann’s SHOAH at the Delphi-Filmpalast, a film that has since formed part of our distribution range. Additional films on the same theme shown at the Forum and subsequently added to our film archive include DIE FEUERPROBE by Erwin Leiser, HA'MAKAH HA'SHMONIM VE'AHAT (The 81st Blow) by David Bergman et al, and Lanzmann’s SOBIBOR, 14 OCTOBRE 1943, 16 HEURES.
These special audiovisual documents of their times are in danger of fading into obscurity. On the one hand, the film print stock is under threat from both decay and wear and tear, while the media shift of recent years on the other means that there are fewer and fewer places capable of screening analogue films. In order to ensure this form of cinematic remembrance also remains accessible for coming generations, a selection of around 50 titles from our film collection has been put together, ten of which will be digitalized or, if already available in digital form, acquired for digital projection over the next 10 months. The selection includes both well-known films as well as those that have received less attention or been undeservedly forgotten. From January 2015, a catalogue of the 50 thematically relevant works from our collection will be available to present and contextualize the films in question.
On December 21 Maike Mia Höhne is presenting another programme as part of our monthly series Filmmakers' Choice.
"Wonderfully rescued by the forces of good, we confidently await what may come". Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote this poem in December 1944 in prison, faced with a finality that he met with generosity and hope. It is a chain of emotional associations that provides the framework for this evening: solitude, hope, power, necessity, calmness, light. From the abstraction of light and rhythm in ABSTRONIC (M.E. Bute, USA 1952/54) via the poem and the question of sorting memory in COLOUR POEMS (M. Tait, United Kingdom 1974), to the uncle's village in A LETTER TO UNCLE BOONMEE (A. Weerasethakul, Thailand/United Kingdom/Germany 2009), that stands for the Thai army's hunt for communists from 1960–80. Peter Weiss shot STUDIE IV – BEFREIUNG (Sweden 1954), the title is the program here. In all this destruction, the light of world remains – therefore once again Karl Kels' STARE (Germay 1991), that expands the sky via movement.
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.
The films in this program presented by Sylvie Boisseau and Frank Westermeyer on October 20, generate invisible images by means of language, playing in the process with well-known representational forms, such as the confession or the Latin American telenovela. By intensifying or exaggerating convention, they challenge our belief in the visible. In UNE SALE HISTOIRE (France 1977), Jean Eustache films two identical confessions by a passionate voyeur one after the other with the words exactly the same in each case. Phil Collins switches the actors in every single scene of his telenovela SOY MI MADRE without the narrative flow ever being interrupted. For the OPTIONISTEN, the presentation of his limitless possibilities is already enough.
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.)
At the centre of this month's program presented by Sabine Schöbel on August 11 are Maya Deren's AT LAND (USA 1944) and Jenny Okun's STILL LIFE (USA 1976). A whole network of central questions on film aesthetics and narration can be generated from these two classics of experimental film history, into which other short works can then be inserted: those of Christine Noll Brinckmann, who has published comprehensive texts on both films, DER FATER and STIEF, LUPINEN LÖSCHEN by Sabine Schöbel, BERTHA'S CHILDREN by Grahame Weinbren and Roberta Friedman, Pat O'Neill's FOREGROUNDS and Margret Tait's PORTRAIT OF GA. The themes include time and "physical reality", structural film and painting, the three ages of life, a female aesthetic and the identity of the female artist.
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).
Michel Leiner died on 16. March 2014 in Frankfurt am Main. In his memory, Bärbel Freund and Anne Grèzes are presenting WALDI (Reinhard Kahn/Michel Leiner, BRD 1979/80) on June 16. "Robert Walser's "Der Wald", a piece of prose that feigns to be a school essay, which first appeared in a Bern Sunday newspaper in 1903, is the object of this film which intimately and lovingly campaigns for its cause and is wrapped in a flowing lustrous green." (Peter Nau) GENÈSE D’UN REPAS (Genesis of a Meal, Luc Moullet, F 1978) is a comparative economic study about a Senegalese tin of tuna, a French egg, a banana from Ecuador, and about film material from its manufacture to its exploitation.
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.
"A porn film at home on tape is a pretext for inviting a girl, and it avoids the minimal work of talking to her about love," the famous filmmaker will say at the end of the evening in an interview. Eight favorite films and perhaps a half. From Chantal Akerman to Maya Deren to Jean-Luc Godard to Jean-Marie Staub, from a slap to emergency decrees and back to nature. Chosen by Stefan Zeyen and accompanied by the analytical Daniel Miller who states that "the coming of cinema was expected on earth."
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.
This month's screening on November 18 will be presented by Eléonore de Montesquiou. "There must be enthusiasm, and it must be communicated like a flame—the cinema is a flame in the shadows. … Napoleon is Prometheus. I'm not thinking here of morality or of politics, but of art," Abel Gance wrote in 1927 for the program accompanying the first screening of NAPOLEON (F 1927). He said that in general his approach was "To make the spectator become an actor; to involve him at every level in the unfolding of the action; to sweep him away on the flow of the pictures." For this, he found a cinematic language that included the superimposition of images, Polyvision using a triple screen. He started shooting NAPOLEON in 1925. It accompanied him his whole life – unfinished and shortened several times.
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.
As opposed to a shot-reverse shot montage which joins contradictory points of view together in a sensible way, the interchange of cinematography is in a position to leave relevant perspectives in their singular manner. When filmmakers film themselves mutually or a cameraman suddenly takes the position of the performer in front of the camera, specific forms of dialogue are reflected, whether they are connected to political viewpoints and/or refer to sexual fantasies. Explicit changes of view can be seen in Hollis Frampton and Joyce Wieland's avant-garde classic A & B IN ONTARIO for example as can shifts of view in Carolee Schneemann's FUSES. (23.9., presented by Rainer Bellenbaum)
To celebrate our anniversary, we are presenting new prints of six films from our collection with the help of the Capital Cultural Fund in Berlin. CHIRCALES (Brick Workers) by Marta Rodríguez and Jorge Silva (Colombia 1972) is about a large family that makes bricks from mud for a pittance but then is laid off. Observing in documentary fashion and featuring an off-camera commentary, the film analyzes the relationship between workers deprived of rights and poverty. We will also show Harun Farocki's ZUM VERGLEICH (G 2009), a documentary about brick production in Africa, India and Europe, made almost 40 years later. The comparison between traditional, early and highly industrialized society sheds new light on CHIRCALES. (16.9.)
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.
From unexposed film to a medially reflected self-reflection: Nam June Paik's ZEN FOR FILM (1964), a visual analogy of John Cage's silence, marked the start of a search for possibilities of self-perception in film and video art. In WAITING (1979) Nan Hoover examines the subjective feeling of time; Annika Larsson films blind football players in BLIND (2010) and Florian Zeyfang examines the possibilities of visual reproduction in INTRODUCTION TO A SHORT HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY (2008). In Kenneth Anger's KUSTOM KAR KOMMANDOS (1965) the "I" is reflected in fetishistic polished chrome, and Ming Wong imitates fictional identities in LERNE DEUTSCH MIT PETRA VON KANT (2007). In Keren Cytter's DER SPIEGEL (2007) the mirror becomes a destroyer of self-perception, and at the end Stefan Zeyen tries to prevent a FAREWELL (2009) until the image dissolves. Presented by Niklas Goldbach.
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.
Berlin Filmmaker Bärbel Freund will be presenting ZORNS LEMMA by Hollis Frampton on March 18. "Hollis Frampton's (1936–1984) films are reified processes of emotional realization, which – often using mathematical sequencing models – prompt the most complicated thoughts about the relationship between words and images and about the ties between perception and language in a playful manner. ZORNS LEMMA (USA 1970) exemplifies the transition from alphabet-based thinking to cinematic thinking, in the sense that an alphabet made up of 24 images gradually replaces the old series of letters, with each image-letter holding for one second, which at today’s projection speed means that it repeats itself 24 times. The film is what Frampton says about Hokusai's "Hundred Views" - a 'magnificent inventory of the mind's ways of knowing through the eye." (Frieda Grafe) From: Geraffte Zeit.
At the request of Martin Ebner the films ROSE HOBART (Joseph Cornell, USA 1936, 16mm, without dialogue, 19 min) and SIGNAL – GERMANY ON THE AIR (Ernie Gehr, USA 1985, 16mm, without dialogue, 34 min) will be shown and discussed on March 12. Cornell's first and most impressive film ROSE HOBART is essentially a new version of East of Borneo, a jungle drama by Universal Pictures from 1931 with Rose Hobart and Charles Bickford. ROSE HOBART transforms the banal plot of East of Borneo intentionally into a maze. "Joseph Cornell appropriated a print of the Hollywood film East of Borneo that he had found on a flea market. He re-cut it, shortened it and added images, giving it a new soundtrack so as to create a completely new and self-contained piece. Moreover, Cornell also tinted the film blue, which was originally black and white, by screening it through a tinted glass at the first screening. He played sentimental dance music on a record player. For the print that he made decades later with Jonas Mekas for the Anthology Film Archives in New York he decided upon a reddish-purple color and this provisional or perhaps now final version is also in the Arsenal archive. In this version the soundtrack is an audio cassette or mp3/CD with mambo music from the 1960s that is played parallel to the film when it is screened (but not in sync)." (Martin Ebner)
Ernie Gehr created SIGNAL - GERMANY ON THE AIR during his DAAD artist grant residency in West-Berlin in 1985, Ernie Gehr created SIGNAL - GERMANY ON THE AIR. The title SIGNAL - GERMANY ON THE AIR refers to the audio track of the film, which was mainly composed of radio recordings by Gehr.
Once again, several events in this year’s Forum and Forum Expanded program are linked to the Living Archive project. On the first day of the festival two events will be taking place: a panel discussion "To Begin with the Archive" with project participants and the Forum Expanded curatorial team and the presentation of a restored version of a film from the 1988 Forum program, KYA HUA IS SHAHAR KO? (WHAT HAPPENDED TO THIS CITY?, Deepa Dhanraj, India 1986) by project participant Nicole Wolf. Two further panel discussions with Living Archive participants will be taking place on February 10 and 11.
Curatorial Mother Vaginal Davis rings in the New Year with Jim Jarmusch's very first film PERMANENT VACATION (USA 1980) on January 27. To a rumbling soundtrack – a mélange of Japanese Gamelan music and John Luries' jazz improvisations – the youthful protagonist Allie drifts through Manhattan's Lower East Side. On his sensual search through rundown, abandoned apartment houses and industrial buildings, the Charlie Parker fans encounters a cross section of Downtown hipsters: saxophone players, crooks, freaks, poets. A melancholy "Odyssey of Cool". Followed, as always, by drinks, music and gossip with Vaginal Davis!
On January 8 the next public screening takes place. At the request of Angela Melitopoulos a selection of films from the Newsreel Collective from the Arsenal archive will be shown and discussed. Established in December 1967 as Newsreel, an activist filmmaker collective, this NY group grew to become a network with chapters across the US. Its different chapters produced and distributed short 16mm films covering the anti-war and women's movements, civil and human rights movements. In the mid-70s the New York Newsreel became Third World Newsreel (TWN).
The countdown is on! In June 2013 the project "Living Archive – Archive Work as a Contemporary Artistic and Curatorial Practice" is ending with a grand closing event, with which we are also celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art (formerly Friends of the German Film Archive). Over the entire month, the participants of Living Archive will present the results of their two years of research and exchange in the Arsenal’s archive in the form of exhibitions, book presentations, DVD projects, film series and performances. Until then, there is still time to view hidden, unknown and forgotten films together within the framework of our public screening series.
This project takes three films by American filmmaker and actress Sheila McLaughlin as representative of a trend in experimental film that took place in the 70s and 80s, moving it away from a radically material-based, self reflexive aesthetic towards the narrative forms of independent film, within which new forms of cinematic representation and documentation could be developed. Over three silent sequences, the short film INSIDE OUT (USA 1976/78) shows moments of sustained, internal tension just before an emotional outburst on the part of the protagonists. The internal bursts out of these portraits like the filling of a broken Piñata doll. The film COMMITTED (USA 1980–84), which Sheila McLaughlin realized together with Lynne Tillman, is not a biography of actress Frances Farmer but rather a fictional analysis of the same. It deals with the disturbed relationship between Farmer and her mother, the sociopolitical climate in the USA of the 30s and 40s, the role of psychiatry as an increasingly powerful determinant in this period and the destructive love story between a woman (actress) and a man (director). COMMITTED is conducted as a Film noir and a period piece – the latter of which is unusual for an independent film. SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS (USA / West Germany 1987) weaves together a director’s efforts at adapting a novel by Thomas de Quincey for the screen and her conflict-filled relationship with her lover, which feeds off jealously and is hung up on day dreams and revenge fantasies. The production and aesthetic of these films deliver some interesting insights into the transatlantic cooperation being undertaken within independent filmmaking at the time, with all three being shown as part of the Living Archive project of Heinz Emigholz, who is also preparing a DVD release of the films. Sheila McLaughlin will be in attendance at the screening.
At the request of Constanze Ruhm the film ANNA (Italy 1975, 16mm, 213', OV/GeS) by Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli will be shown and discussed on December 18. ANNA is an documentary about a 16-year-old homeless junkie, eight months pregnant, whom the filmmakers discovered in Rome’s Piazza Navona. It documents the interactions between the beautiful, clearly damaged, often dazed teenager and the directors, who take her in partly out of compassion and partly because she’s a fascinating subject for a film. ANNA cuts between long domestic scenes (including an interminable delousing in the shower) and equally protracted café discussions back in the square, where the unruly cross talk touches on the movie’s key themes: between filmmakers, the state and the society. Far from straightforward vérité, this self-implicating chronicle includes reenactments of the first meeting, explicit attempts to direct its subject, and frequent intrusions from behind the camera (not least the emergence of the film’s electrician as a love interest). The film was originally recorded with a video apparatus in a length of 11 hours and a 4 hours abridged version was transferred to 16mm film in June 1975 by using the "Vidigrafo" (constructed by Grifi himself). That same year, ANNA was shown at the International Forum of New Cinema.
On December 21, Maike Mia Höhne will be presenting films by Maya Deren, Carolee Schneemann, Stan Brakhage, Marie Menken and Rüdiger Neumann. "The repetition is in difficulty, again and again. Why again and again? Because it has to happen again and again to trigger a sound. To create an echo. It's about transcendence these days, again and again. RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME (Maya Deren, 1946). Condensing the internalized into the outside. To the bodies in motion. No disappearing into pornography, devotion: FUSES (Carolee Schneemann, 1965–68). Stan Brakhage picks up on the light in EYE MYTH EDUCATIONAL (1972) and Marie Menken follows Christmas lights in LIGHTS (1965), transferring them from real life into the cinematic realm. STEIN / LICHT (Rüdiger Neumann, 1993) is a journey though time and tide. It is only in the darkest black of night, as visceral as celluloid, that the sound of the lights that appear on the horizon is produced." (Maike Mia Höhne)
"Specters of Freedom: Cinema and Decolonialization" establishes relationships between the Arsenal film archive and two archives in Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau which relate an important chapter in the story of anti-colonial African cinema. As part of his "Living Archive" project, curator Tobias Hering has invited Portuguese artists Catarina Simão and Filipa César to present their respective, not explicitly related research on each of these archives at the Arsenal cinema. Over a total of five evenings, films of different origins, visual fragments and sound recordings create a resonance chamber which serves to bring up both the role of cinema in the decolonialisation processes of the 70s and the politics of archives for discussion. The timeframe of the film selection is the 70s. The program also includes a video installation by Catarina Simão in the Black Box in the Arsenal foyer (5.11.-12.11. and 26.11.-28.11., 4pm–10pm, projection restarts on the hour). On 27 und 28.11., filmmaker Sana na N'Hada from Guinea-Bissau will also be in attendance.
On Novmeber 19, Stefan Hayn will be presenting MOSES UND ARON (West Germany 1974) by Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub and HUNDERT BLATT SCHREIBBLOCK (BRD 1969) by Vlado Kristl – the short film is also in memory of Carola Regnier, who loved Kristl’s works, knew how to read his poems and lived with his paintings. Kristl went from painting to film, from Yugoslavia to West Germany, where he then tried to paint his way back out of the cinema. He drew one of the posters for MOSES UND ARON.
In this film to be listened to, INTERVIEW MIT EINEM 13-JÄHRIGEN (1983/2008), Bärbel Freund asks her brother the same questions as Godard asked children in the 12-part television series "France tour détour deux enfants" (Godard / Miéville, F 1980). Instead of the children's persistent "Yes, no, I don't know" answers or silence, lively observations and insights burst out from the black and white screen. The intimacy of the interlocutors means that we envisage pictures despite their absence. Only the beginning of a new chapter is introduced by a "conventional" film moment, which is found in the city. The myth of highly-qualified philosophy makes space for existential humanity. (Karl Heil)
In our series Filmmakers' Choice Martin Ebner will be presenting works by Ernie Gehr, Larry Gottheit, Peter Hutton und Pat Sullivan on August 20. "My first visit to the cinema, around 1970, holding my grandmother's hand at a matinee screening, the cruelty of Laurel and Hardy so incomprehensible to me that I fled out into the blazing sunshine after only a few minutes. "Fantasia" then followed, which I can only remember as a confusing orgy of color and sound. Since then, I have had a healthy respect for cinema as an apparatus that structures time and perception, yet I do sometimes imagine it being transformed into the sort of extravagant, fantastic, random, imaginary, atmospheric, chaotic, fragmentary, complex and ornamental place that it maybe used to be or might yet become." (Martin Ebner)
This month's Filmmakers' Choice session on June 25 will be presented by artist Deborah Phillips: "I looked for films in which colors, textures, light and time were more important than people and stories. More and more, my research became a journey of discovery into the East European part of the Arsenal Archive. We begin with a film that observes nature, VIRAGAT A NAPNAK. In EXÚ, which features magical compositions by Christoph Janetzko, reality is consumed. Painting in movement ENCOUNTER and ani-mated buttons GUZIK lead on to my animated painting film in different dimensions UNTITLED COLOURMATION whereas EYE MUSIC IN ED MAJOR, a classic of pure color and light, paves the path to one of the most interesting portraits of an artist: WITOLD LUTOSŁAWSKI. HEAT SHIMMER is a subtle example of the three-color separation process, which brings us back to the observation of nature." (D. Philipps)
In this month's Filmmakers' Choice session on May 21, Bärbel Freund presents films by Karl Heil, Reinhard Kahn and Michel Leiner. Karl Heil's MMH (1981) introduces us to several young people in search of happiness in the West Berlin of the time, their existences in this summery, urban space becoming tangible in the process. The adventurous, defiant and dreamily playful way in which Karl Heil discovered the medium of film for himself is shared by Reinhard Kahn and Michel Leiner, both from Frankfurt. PLATZWUNDER (1983/84) by Kahn / Leiner draws on Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg. In RÜCKE VOR AUF: FRÜHLINGSMORGEN (1988/89) and ETWAS AUS GLAS (1989/95), both by Reinhard Kahn, Hamburg and its surroundings also enchant us. The characters radiate with a fine soulful aura from the deepest twilight: a restless sense of yearning, departure and blessed uselessness (Peter Nau).