february 2018, arsenal cinema

13. Forum Expanded
 – A Mechanism Capable of Changing Itself

In 1947, the avant-garde cinema pioneer Maya Deren noted that “Marxism is the only political theory that has designed a mechanism capable of changing itself - as in the concept of the withering away of the state." It is with this quotation that the media scholar Ute Holl begins a paper on the film poet’s theories and concept of cinema, which takes the form of "a sustained intervention in the social and sensory relationships of all those who participate in this ongoing form of communication." The title of this year’s Forum Expanded program was taken from this same paper, with "A Mechanism Capable of Changing Itself" referring to the specific agency possessed by cinema, which is especially well expressed in the rich range of forms to be found in documentary works.

february 2018, arsenal cinema

48. Forum

In two films made by female directors in this year's program, new significance is given to video material shot during political upheavals: At the end of the 1980s, Kristina Konrad went out onto the streets of Uruguay to collect opinions about a referendum on a law that would guarantee amnesty to the former military junta. UNAS PREGUNTAS (One or Two Questions) examines a democratic process very closely. At around same time, the world’s attention focussed on the Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim, a former UN secretary general and Austrian president. Ruth Beckermann's WALDHEIMS WALZER is a documentary essay of shocking pertinence.

february 2018, arsenal cinema

Ula Stöckl Retrospective

"'The private is political' provides a key to the art of film, with which I can highlight power structures right into the most intimate of relationships." (Ula Stöckl) This thought not only runs through Ula Stöckl's film oeuvre, but also forms the basis of her extensive curatorial activity in numerous international selection committees, as well as of her work as a professor of directing in the US. It dates back to the early 1960s when she was one of the few women to start making films in West Germany. At this time, what she knew was that she wanted to work as a screenwriter. She applied to the Ulm School of Design and was the first woman to get into the Institute of Film Design. Alexander Kluge, who built up the film department with Edgar Reitz, asked her whether she could imagine taking full responsibility for her work as a filmmaker. He said that this was something completely new and that the idea was to pick up on the position of auteur from the early film era. Stöckl made her first short in the fortress next to her film school, using a silent 35-mm Arri camera: ANTIGONE (1964), a classic epic, is seven minutes long, with the plot reduced to sheer moments. The director’s feature debut NEUN LEBEN HAT DIE KATZE (1968) is considered to be West Germany’s first feminist film and became a cult film.

 

Ula Stöckl has since written, made and produced over 25 documentaries, features and television films, which focus on female mythological characters, on the conflicts between people and generations, and on violent power structures. She made "Tales Of The Dumpster Kid" (25 episodes) and "The Golden Thing" with Edgar Reitz.

february 2018, arsenal cinema

Tribute to István Szabó

A world-class director, auteur, creator of grand historical topographies, as well as intense landscapes of the soul: István Szabó (*1938, Budapest) is arguably the most famous director in Hungary, having made some 40 films. APA (Father, 1966), MEPHISTO (1981), ÉDES EMMA, DRÁGA BÖBE (Sweet Emma, Dear Böbe, 1991) and his most recent work THE DOOR (2012) have all marked the cinematography of his country, as well as European/international cinema generally – in the first instance as a singular voice in the art of film, but also as an exact observer and commentator of cultural, aesthetic and political developments, as well as a teacher. His films – the first shorts were made at the end of the 1950s – are united by a precise and sensitive approach to their protagonists in times of political and social upheaval. They are critical, empathetic studies of the consequences of the historical ruptures in Europe over the past 100 years on individual lives. However, the films always go beyond particular moments, bringing the human, moral and personal crystallizations – the fields of tension between power and resistance, identity and assimilation, art and politics – into the present. To kick off a series of international programs and retrospectives to celebrate the director’s birthday, we will be showing six films from his nuanced oeuvre, which ranges from concentrated Kammerspiel to huge expansive productions featuring star casts. We are pleased to welcome István Szabó himself to Arsenal on 2nd and 3rd February.