February 2019, arsenal cinema

49th Forum

SO PRETTY, 2019

Many of the films in this year’s program were inspired by literature: A novel by Elfriede Jelinek, a novella by Robert Musil and a prose text by Ronald M. Schernikau provide the starting point for feature films from Austria, Portugal and the US. In their Super 8 silent film DIE KINDER DER TOTEN (The Children of the Dead), Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska from Nature Theater of Oklahoma take on Elfriede Jelinek’s eponymous ghost novel. It is a Heimatfilm and a home movie at the same time in which doppelgängers, the undead, a Nazi widow, a weary forester and a Syrian family of poets make their ghostly way through Styria - it is eerie and funny.

At the center of Rita Azevedo Gomes’ A PORTUGUESA (The Portuguese Woman) is the newly-wed wife of Lord von Ketten who brings her from Portugal to Italy. While her husband devotes himself to war, she beings to emancipate herself gradually from her solitude. Despite the splendid costumes and opulent visuals, the film has a realistic touch - it also features Ingrid Caven as a singer of ballads.

In Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli’s SO PRETTY, the daily life and politics of the gay scene in 1980s West Berlin are renegotiated in a queer shared flat in contemporary New York. This partly autobiographical feature film tells the story of Tonio/Tonia and Franz, Paul and Erika, talking about political activism and the models of love. It is an adaptation, translation and re-reading of Ronald M. Schernikau’s novel “So schön” (“So pretty”).

Ghassan Salhab returns to the Forum with a film based on Rosa Luxemburg’s correspondence when she was in jail. UNE ROSE OUVERTE/WARDA (An Open Rose) combines letters and photos with metaphorical images of Lebanon and wintry Berlin to create a multi-layered collage.

The great documentary filmmaker Thomas Heise uses letters and other documents to paint his own family history over four generations. In his monumental work HEIMAT IST EIN RAUM AUS ZEIT language and images come together in a haunting portrait of a family, country and century.
Florian Kunert’s debut film FORTSCHRITT IM TAL DER AHNUNGSLOSEN also explores German history: Amid the ruins of the premises of the GDR company “Fortschritt” in Neustadt in Saxony, former employees encounter the Syrian refugees who are now accommodated there. Archive material from the days when GDR-Syrian friendship celebrated contrasts with contemporary footage of Pegida demonstrations.

Two debut works from China explore biographies and memories. In Lei Lei’s essay film BREATHLESS ANIMALS a woman speaks off-camera of her family’s suffering during the Cultural Revolution while images of a burgeoning country flicker on the screen: Two competing visions of daily life in China emerge.
Zhu Yin, who is only 22, has created a mysterious, meandering family story in MAN YOU (Vanishing Days) set in a hot, rainless summer in the province capital Hangzhou. The 14-year-old Senlin is struggling to write her school essay. When an old friend of her mother’s comes to visit, reality, dreams and memories merge.
By contrast, the feature film CHUN NUAN HUA KAI (From Tomorrow On, I Will) by Ivan Marković and Wu Linfeng is set in the Chinese capital Beijing and provides an insight into the life of a young night watchman who sleeps by day in a bed occupied by a man who works the day shift at night. In impressively photographed, atmospheric images, a story of how luxury and precarity exist side by side.

Bernd Schoch locates extreme working and living conditions in Europe in a microcosm in the southern Carpathians. His film OLANDA observes a group of families who live in makeshift camps over the summer, picking mushrooms and berries at the crack of dawn for consumers in Western Europe. The informal economic structures form the smallest link in a Europe-wide trade chain.
Nicolaus Geyrhalter focuses on the earth (Erde in German) in the Anthropocene epoch. In seven locations which humans are transforming on a grand scale, the film ERDE shows the ambiguous impact: Digging, drilling, dismantling, farming and measuring all take place without regard for the consequences on the environment and nature.

Jean-Gabriel Périot’s NOS DÉFAITES (Our Defeats) looks at contemporary political discourse. Working with a school class, he re-stages moments of strike, resistance and the worker’s struggle from the films of Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Tanner and others. After the performance comes reflection: By asking them about the young people about their acting the filmmaker explores a generation’s view of politics. Can political activism arise from this?

Like every year, the Forum completes its program with a series of Special Screenings dedicated to alternative forms of writing film history, like Callisto Mc Nulty’s DELPHINE ET CAROLE, INSOUMUSES (Delphine and Carole). In the 1970s and 80s, the filmmaker Carole Roussopoulos und the legendary actress Delphine Seyrig made use of new video technology to take part in the women’s movement. The film sketches the beginnings of a creative, political practice that combined collective action, media involvement and archival documentation in an insolent, subversive and humorous manner.

Members of the Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art receive discounts for all Forum and Forum Expanded screenings (on condition of being able to show proof of membership). Multiple screening tickets (only available at Arsenal) are also valid at all Forum and Forum Expanded venues.

arsenal cinema: Filmspotting: Exploring the Deutsche Kinemathek’s Film Archive

07:00 pm Cinema 2


Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam

*Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam
The Golem: How He Came into the World
Paul Wegener Germany 1920
DCP 76 min

Richard Siedhoff on piano Introduced by Oliver Hanley
arsenal cinema: Following the sun – Mikhail Kalik retrospective

07:15 pm Cinema 1


Ataman Kodr

Ataman Kodr Mikhail Kalik, Boris Rytsarev, Olga Ulitskaya
USSR/Soviet Moldova 1958 35 mm OV/GeS 76 min

arsenal cinema: Following the sun – Mikhail Kalik retrospective

09:00 pm Cinema 1


Junost naschich otzow

Yunost nashikh otsov The Youth of our Fathers
Mikhail Kalik, Boris Rytsarev USSR 1958
35 mm OV/GeS 82 min