january 2022, arsenal cinema

Unknown Pleasures #12
 – American Independent Film Fest

A Democratic mayor working in Republican-led country, omnipresent surveillance technologies and everyday racism in a society that sees itself as enlightened: Unknown Pleasures #12 presents a selection of current American independent films in which the socio-political tensions of the last years can be clearly felt. What’s noticeable here is that these films are narrated from a firmly autobiographical perspective. When, for example, Theo Anthony thinks about cameras, guns and the police in his brilliant essay film ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE, he also repeatedly films himself and his camera and thus reflects his own viewpoint. In Alfred Guzzetti’s most recent film THE GIFTS OF TIME, he visits friends that he’s known for over 50 years and has them give accounts of their lives before the camera. What do they think about their current situation? Skinner Myers takes on the leading role in his debut film THE SLEEPING NEGRO, creating a furious comment on the question of whether the US really is a post-racial society. In ALL ABOUT MY SISTERS, a deeply harrowing documentary about the effects of China’s one-child policy, director Wang Qiong appears as the filmmaker and a daughter at the same time. ALL ABOUT MY SISTERS also embodies a trend in independent film for crossing national borders, which equally reflects the ever more precarious funding opportunities available. Wang Qiong lives in the US and financed her film via American institutions, even if it was shot purely in China. Ted Fendt’s OUTSIDE NOISE, which stands thematically and formally in the line of his last features, was ultimately produced entirely outside the US.

One particular highlight is the tribute to Joan Micklin Silver (1935–2020), whose oeuvre is almost completely forgotten in Germany today. Her prize-winning feature debut HESTER STREET about Jewish immigrants to New York at the end of the 19th century was released in 1975. But despite this success, she had repeated difficulties finding work as a director. At the end of the 70s, she had to endure an influential director telling her the following: “Producing and distributing features is very expensive and female directors are just another problem that we can do without.” We are showing three of her most beautiful films: alongside HESTER STREET, we are screening the comedy BETWEEN THE LINES (1977) and what is probably her best known work, CROSSING DELANCEY (1988).

january 2022, arsenal cinema

Consultations – Documentary Works from Past and Present

Entrusting films to dialogue, providing images from diverse perspectives, archiving discourses and keeping them alive—this emphatic mission on the part of the Duisburger Filmwoche and Arsenal functions as the impulse for this joint program. Current documentaries screened at recent editions of the renowned festival for documentary cinema from Germany, Austria and Switzerland will placed in relationship with older works from the festival’s illustrious 45-year history.

 

Films can be seen that are dedicated to people, milieu and moods for which few or only stereotypical images circulate: works that go along with the circumstances they find and devote themselves to their protagonists. The various correspondences between the selected films reveal impressions of autobiographical exploration and supposedly marginal or marginalized ways of life and feelings, with each work creating its own usual visual language in so doing. The combination of historical and current films creates unexpected connections and allows new impressions to be created in the space brought about by the temporal distance between the individual films.

 

While the Duisburger Filmwoche creates a space for committed debates between filmmakers and audiences in November every year, “Consultations” functions as an encounter between images themselves as they enter into an exchange. As a written protocol of each discussion in Duisburg is produced and stored in the festival’s protocol archive at protokult.de, the research now being carried out in this archive forms the starting point for new cinematographic dialogues, allowing images to enrich and find new paths to one another that have yet to appear on any map.

january 2022, arsenal cinema

„The gatekeepers exist to be overthrown.“
 Amos Vogel – Repeats and Responses (III)

The timespan of the third and final part of our tribute to New York film curator Amos Vogel (1921–2012) begins with his tenure as founding director of the New York Film Festival (1963–1968) and follows his work as a curator, author and film educator up until the end of the 90s. Alongside articles, correspondence and notes from Vogel’s extensive personal estate, one important reference for the film selection is his recently republished book "Film as a Subversive Art" (1974), which testifies to his conception of film and cinema running counter to the canon.