September 2016, arsenal cinema

Film:ReStored_01. The Film Heritage Festival

ULIISSES, 1982

The Deutsche Kinemathek's four-day festival presents digitally restored films from six decades of German film history. The archives of the Association of German Cinematheques give an insight into the activities that have taken place since the beginning of the German government's digitalization offensive to preserve film heritage visibly in the digital age.

Two films by Georg Wilhelm Pabst will open and close the festival: KAMERADSCHAFT (Comradeship, G 1931, 22.9.) was an appeal for international understanding at a time when the Nazis were gaining ground in Germany with words of revenge: After a mining accident close to the Franco-German border, German miners risk their lives to help their French comrades. Aside from the insistent message, the claustrophobic imagery of the blocked shafts sticks. By contrast, DU HAUT EN BAS (High and Low, F 1933, 25.9.) is an enjoyable and entertaining film starring Jean Gabin as a football player and made while Pabst was in exile in France. Many co-exiles, including Peter Lorre, took part in the production, both in front of and behind the camera, of this film about the inhabitants of Paris apartment building. Lorre also played alongside Hedy Lamarr in DIE KOFFER DES HERRN O.F. (The Trunks of Mr. O.F., G 1931, 25.9.) by Alexis Granowsky who emigrated later. The color film ROSE BERND (Wolfgang Staudte, FRG 1957, 23.9.) allows the program to examine a topic from the conference that will accompany the festival: What are the problems that arise when digitalizing an analogue film and what has to be taken into consideration, for example regarding the appearance of color dependent on material? Four workshops will examine such questions regarding the technology and aesthetics of digitalizing films and will offer a good insight into technical processes and decision-making procedures. Experimental films that explore their own materiality in a particular way pose a particular challenge. As "marginal works" of the film canon they are often ignored by digitalization projects that tend to focus on the classics. The digitalization of ULIISSES (Werner Nekes, BRD 1982, 23.9.) is a unique example in this regard. The avant-garde film inspired both by Homer's "Odyssey" and James Joyce's "Ulysses" provides a voyage of discovery into the universe of images, supported by icons of the underground such as Tabea Blumenschein, Anthony Moore and Helge Schneider. In the same year that ULIISSES was made, Rainer Simon created an equally demanding work in visual and narrative terms in the other part of Germany - DAS LUFTSCHIFF (The Airship, GDR 1982, 22.9.): The eccentric inventor Stannebein invents a "windmill-airship" and finds himself in the Spanish Civil War, eventually ending up in a psychiatric ward and falling victim to a euthanasia program. His outlandish visions of airships provide a graphic, narrative layer of their own. Helma Sanders-Brahms also unfolds a panorama of time in DEUTSCHLAND, BLEICHE MUTTER (Germany, Pale Mother 24.9.), but the story and its exploration of the Second World War and post-war Germany is told from the perspective of a woman, which was unusual in 1982. The digitally restored version was showed in the Berlinale Classics section in 2014. The WILLI-BUSCH-REPORT (The Willi Busch Report, Niklaus Schilling, FRG 1979, 24.9.) is set a few years later in a consolidated West Germany. In the shadow of the German-German border, detached from world-shattering events, the resourceful reporter Willi Busch (Tilo Prückner) manages to create a sensation by trying to keep his provincial newspaper alive. Film:ReStored will also be providing two events for children: SABINE KLEIST, 7 JAHRE … (Sabine Kleist, 7 Years Old, Helmut Dziuba, GDR 1982, 25.9.) follows Sabine, an orphan who has run away from her home, through the streets of Berlin for two days and two nights - a DEFA classic that has now been digitalized. The Frankfurt Film Museum will organize a film workshop for five to seven-year-olds inspired by Jan Švankmajer's film "A Game with Stones".

The conference accompanying the screenings will comprise presentations, round-table discussions and workshops on preserving film heritage in the digital era - one of the greatest cultural challenges of our time. German experts (incl. Peter Dinges, Michael Hollmann, RP Kahl, Rainer Rother, Thorolf Lipp) and international guests from the US (Paolo Cherchi Usai), France (Eric Le Roy) and Sweden (Jon Wengström) will talk about strategies and experiences  regarding the digitalization of film heritage. The technical and ethical criteria of different strategies and approaches will also be discussed.

Communal cinemas are important partners of the archives when it comes to making visible and imparting film heritage: They not only show classics but organize comprehensive retrospectives and curate programs with shorts and experimental films. Since 2000, the Association of German Cinematheques has awarded Germany's communal cinemas with an annual prize for their continued commitment. This year's award ceremony will take place on 24.9 as part of the Film:Restored festival and for the first time the Lotte Eisner Prize for outstanding cinema programs will be endowed with 6,000 euros. (ah)

Film:Restored is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and takes place in cooperation with the Association of German Cinematheques, FIAF and Arsenal.