november 2019, arsenal cinema

Working to Remember – The Films of Rithy Panh

The oeuvre of Rithy Panh, who was born in Phnom Penh in 1964 and has lived in France for the last 40 years, revolves round one central theme: remembering the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, which he himself experienced as an adolescent and in which he lost nearly his entire family.


The Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975 and deported the entire population of Phnom Penh to the country, leaving behind 1.7 million dead and a deeply traumatized country. They didn’t just split the population into “new” people (city dwellers and the educated) and “old” ones (farmers who lived traditionally), they also set up a totalitarian system that destroyed all family bonds as well as any sort of cultural life, religion, and education. Above all, they aimed to extinguish individuality, free thought, and collective memory. The struggle against staying silent and forgetting and the endeavor to find diverse forms of remembrance are at the heart of Rithy Panh’s work, which always wrestles with the possibilities of representing the unrepresentable in the process.


Rithy Panh’s cinematic work on grief and remembrance takes a wide range of different forms. His features are characterized by a restrained, flowing directorial style and a profound interest in the psychology of their characters. In his documentaries, he expands the breadth of his cinematic language again and again, finding surprising and poetic images and forms and becoming ever more free and personal. His films are as reflective as they are sensitive and often resemble archeological excavations: remembering the dead who have no graves, giving people the chance to speak again, to investigate, to understand, and to explain.


His commitment to this end extends beyond his own film work. At the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center in Phnom Penh, which he co-founded in 2006, audiovisual testimonies on Cambodia are collected and made accessible to the population, while young filmmakers are also able to receive training.


We are dedicating a ten-film homage to the multi award-winning director.

november 2019, arsenal cinema

Gaumont: Since There Was Cinema

Established in 1895, Gaumont isn’t just the first ever film concern to be founded worldwide.


With over 1500 titles, Gaumont also possesses one of the largest catalogues of French films, including works by Abel Gance, René Clair, Louis Feuillade, Jean Renoir, Max Ophüls, Robert Bresson, Georges Franju, Jean Grémillon, René Clément, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jacques Doillon, Jean-Luc Godard, Maurice Pialat, Jean Vigo, and Louis Malle.


From November 29 to January 31, a guest exhibition will be hosted at the Maison de France of the Institut français at Kurfürstendamm 211 entitled “Gaumont: Since There Was Cinema”. The exhibition is an invitation to take a journey through the history of the company and film history itself, presenting original props, costumes, film posters, film music, and film excerpts. A “hackathon” workshop to be held from November 19th -25th also offers eight participants the opportunity to digitally reinterpret Gaumont classics, with the results to be shown afterwards at the exhibition.


As part of the French Film Week from November 28th to December 4th, Arsenal is accompanying the exhibition by screening a selection of classics from French film history together with some of the firm’s more recent productions. A comprehensive program of titles from the Gaumont catalogue will follow in February.

november 2019, arsenal cinema

Magical History Tour – Excess and Opulence 

We are focusing on grand gestures for this month's Magical History Tour - on films located in the space between excess and opulence, whose exuberance is manifested either by the director's unlimited personal involvement or by an unfettered artistic vision. However, opulence and excess are by no means an end in themselves, but instead represent the expression of a desire for change asserting itself against manifold constraints and obstacles. Our program features films committed to absolute realism alongside ones that find their appropriate form in extreme stylization.

november 2019, arsenal cinema

AFRIKAMERA 2019: Africa Lusofonia

While it was the post-colonial militant cinema of liberation in ‘70s Angola and Mozambique that caused the biggest stir beyond the borders of the region and enjoys new attention today as part of an increased critical engagement with the continent’s colonial past, current productions from Lusophone Africa also engage with other social themes alongside its own history, including gender, religion, or urbanity. In its twelfth edition, AFRIKAMERA 2019: Africa Lusofonia presents a selection of current features and documentaries from Angola, Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique alongside productions from other regions of Africa.

november 2019, arsenal cinema

In person: Lizzie Borden und Bette Gordon

VARIETY (USA 1983) by Bette Gordon and BORN IN FLAMES (USA 1983) by Lizzie Borden have influenced feminist film historiography and theory for decades. Both films were made in New York in 1983 as part of the Independent Cinema movement. They were shown at the Berlinale Forum and distributed by Arsenal in the German-speaking world afterwards. In the meantime, both are available in restored versions. In collaboration with the Viennale, we are celebrating this fact by returning them to the big screen. We are happy that the two directors will be in Berlin and Vienna to talk about the films at a present in which they have gained a whole new relevance. Unfortunately Lizzie Borden has had to cancel her visit to Berlin.