May 2011, arsenal cinema

Archive of a Possible Future (II)


The remembrance of its own colonial past is only very weak in Germany, the common form of archiving being suppression. How can an archive be created that instead remembers actively, also the history of resistance, and that can be used to conceive a possible future? Cinema plays a special role in this regard: as collective memory, as a place for conveying and updating history in the present. Cinema and colonialism are also historically linked; especially in Germany, cinema was a place of colonial fantasies. But cinema is also always resistive. What kind of cinema is created where, how is it made and how is it viewed? What do center and periphery mean in this context?

Brigitta Kuster and Moise Merlin Mabouna have been working on a filmic research project divided into different "chapters" since 2002. They draw landscapes of the present and of remembrance, switching between locations in Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Cameroon and Switzerland, and develop approaches of a transcontinental historical narrative (2006–1892=114 ANS/JAHRE, D/Cameroon 2006, À TRAVERS L'ENCOCHE D'UN VOYAGE DANS LA BIBLIOTHÈQUE COLONIALE. NOTES PITTORESQUES, D 2009). The title of Raphaël Grisey's video, COOPERATIVE (F 2008), refers, on the one hand, to the agricultural cooperative Somankidi Coura founded in Mali in 1976 and, on the other, to the cooperation with Bouba Touré, photographer, former film projectionist and one of the founders of the cooperative. Touré shot the video 58 RUE TROUSSEAU, PARIS FRANCE (F 2008) in his Parisian apartment. The walls are full of photos, posters and personal memories linked to numerous political struggles of the past fifty years. (May 7)

During the same period in which the colonized Maghreb was discovered as a film décor, the filmmaker, film technician and producer Mohamed Osfour (1927–2005) began realizing silent films beyond prescribed paths, whose screening he accompanied live with sounds. He completed the first version of IBN AL GHABA / L'ENFANT DE LA JUNGLE (Morocco 1941–43) as a 14-year-old. The Tarzan tale is embodied in the film with all its colonial attributes such as sun helmet, stake and loincloth. In AMOK L'INVINCIBLE (Morocco 1954), gold-digger myths are crossed with colonial tropical melancholy, fantasies of American Indians with African primitivisms, to create a sort of "third space" that opens up the genre of adventure film in a surprising way. Osfour himself pays the leading role of Amok, the invincible. We are deeply indebted to the Centre Cinématographique Marocain (CCM).

A comparably passionate, contemporary filmmaker is portrayed by Nejib Belkhadi in VHS KAHLOUCHA (Tunisia 2006). Moncef Kahloucha involves his entire neighborhood in film projects. The competed VHS tapes are added to the baggage of the migration routes. Hence, not only an inventive dedication to cinema is displayed, but, on the side, tribute is also paid to the resourcefulness of migrant movements. (May 9)

We thank the Festival Theaterformen Braunschweig 2010, in the frame of which the more extensive film series, "Archive of a Possible Future," was compiled and is being screened there from April 21 through May 26. (Nanna Heidenreich)