june 2019, arsenal cinema

Contested Grounds: Films by Arthur and Corinne Cantrill

Over a period of more than 60 years now, Arthur and Corinne Cantrill have created a filmic cosmos that is unrivaled in its polymorphic experimental visual and tonal abundance. Their works range from documentaries to experimental films, from multi-screen installations to performances and sound art. Between 1971 and 2000, they also edited and published Cantrill Filmnotes, an international journal about experimental film, video and the applied arts. Their oeuvre explores artists, social movements and particularly Australia’s landscape. The partly structural approach of their films transcends itself by highlighting the sensory aspect of the cinematic experience and seeking ways of revealing this and making it palpable in their works.

The Cantrills’ keen interest in the relationship between landscape and the form of film soon led to a more profound conception of the Australian landscape as a part of Indigenous heritage and environment. The political dimension of the films illuminates their determined appreciation. “We are interested in a continuing dialogue between content and form. We also see this synthesis of landscape and film form as bringing together our attitudes as citizens to the conservation of land, forests and, seashore, and to Indigenous land rights. We have no difficulty in sharing the Indigenous belief that the landscape is the repository of the spiritual life of this continent.” (Arthur and Corinne Cantrill, 1982)

Their artistic interest in technological approaches in film, film theory and reflections in film history led them to explore two and three-color separation extensively, resulting in some of the most beautiful works to use the medium of film to create a sensory realm of experience. Their oeuvre breathes a free spirit that is both beguiling and contemplative.

Arsenal, which has had Cantrill films in its archive since 1982, acquired further works in 2018. Our retrospective is the most extensive in Europe ever and offers a rare opportunity to discover the Cantrills’ oeuvre.

june 2019, arsenal cinema

Contested Grounds: Films by Shinsuke Ogawa and Ogawa Pro

Ogawa Pro, the filmmaking collective set up by the Japanese filmmaker Shinsuke Ogawa (1936–1992), is unique in the history of film: For over 25 years, the collective’s members lived and worked together, creating an unrivaled oeuvre that tells of political resistance as well as of traditions in remote mountain villages. Shinsuke Ogawa, who had already made films about the student movement, found his first major field of activity in 1966 in Sanrizuka, near Tokyo, as the government was planning to build Narita International Airport, which would involve appropriating the land of many local residents who would have to be resettled. Like many other left-wing activists, the collective joined in the protests that would last many years, making several films, in which political and cinematic commitment merge. This alternative way of filmmaking was also reflected in the distribution. All over Japan, especially founded committees organized screenings and created a network of supporters. After living among the local residents for many years, the filmmakers shifted their focus to explore rural life in more detail. Ogawa saw the origins of the stubborn resistance to the state authorities in the toughness of peasant life, in the the rootedness in nature and in a historical past. So Ogawa Pro moved further north to a village in Yamagata Prefecture and with great care turned its focus to agriculture, especially rice farming. The first films, documents of a culture understood to be on the way to extinction, emerged after years of communal life. It was an “organic” form of filmmaking that required a particular relationship between those filming and what was being filmed. The approach had its contradictions: Financial stability was impossible because of the unrestricted personal involvement and most of the collective’s members were denied their own artistic practice because of Ogawa’s charismatic personality. We are screening seven Ogawa Pro films as well as others about the collective.

june 2019, arsenal cinema

Showcasing Carlos Reygadas

Since his celebrated debut JAPÓN (2002), the Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas (*1971) has been a prominent representative of audacious auteur cinema. He is known for his headstrong cinematic language. His works are characterized by mesmerizing and mysterious imagery and based on an intellectual analysis of the medium of film and the technological possibilities, such as format or optics, that it offers. Reygadas often opts to use brutally honest and intimate material that revolves around the essential questions of existence and to feature people who cross boundaries in their search for the meaning of life in the modern age. His narrative approach is spiritual and inspired by the works of Andrei Tarkovsky: Long takes in a natural landscape devoid of people that often appears to be post-apocalyptic, a moving camera which seems to continue the thoughts of the protagonists and the specific use of music are typical elements of his oeuvre. Reygadas almost always works with non-professional actors, whom he uses - in a Bressonian sense - as models, shaping them such that their extraordinary physical presence carries his films. All of his works have premiered at major European festivals, fascinating and polarizing audiences in equal measure.

We are very glad that Carlos Reygadas will be present in Berlin for a preview of his latest film NUESTRO TIEMPO and the screening of POST TENEBRAS LUX (2012) as part of this retrospective. There will also be a masterclass moderated by Nicolas Wackerbarth at Arsenal that has been organized in conjunction with the dffb. Everyone is welcome.

june 2019, arsenal cinema

Magical History Tour – Special and Visual Effects

Special or visual effects have long since ceased to be a marginal element of film, with an illusion generator of increasing perfection having emerged from the many early experiments, discoveries and techniques. The numerous innovations made in the SFX field during the analogue era were followed by a digital revolution around 90 years after Méliès’ first “magic” films, opening up cinema to a seemingly limitless domain of computer generated images (CGIs for short). Computers or their “analogue” forebears are not merely capable of generating past or future realms and their inhabitants in the process, but can also create complex visualizations of whole worlds of feeling, perception and thought.

This month's Magical History Tour throws light on the multi-faceted world of special and visual effects.

june 2019, transfer

Next Projection Room Tour on June 29

picture of projection room at Arsenal

What do 16mm, 35mm and 70mm actually mean? What is screen masking and what is it used for? How does a dissolve work? And what is actually happening when the image on the screen stops moving and begins to melt? If you’re interested in finding out how films get on to the screen, Arsenal would like to invite you to take a peek behind the scenes on one of our projection room tours. Our projectionist Bodo Pagels will show you round the projection room, tell you all about film formats, projectors and projection techniques, demonstrate how films are fed into the projector and provide a full introduction to the secrets of film projection. He will also be happy to answer any questions you might have about the cinema set-up and will adapt the tour to your wishes and interests as far as possible. The next scheduled tour will take place on Saturday May 25, at 4pm. Please register in advance. 


arsenal cinema: KinoPolska – Guest: Elżbieta Benkowska

07:30 pm Cinema 2


Nowy świat

Nowy świat New World Elżbieta Benkowska, Łukasz Ostalski, Michał Wawrzecki
Poland 2015 DCP OV/EnS 87 min

Elżbieta Benkowska in person
arsenal cinema: Helena Třeštíková retrospective

08:00 pm Cinema 1


Život s Kašparem

Život s Kašparem Life with Jester
Czech Republic 2013
DCP OV/EnS  85 min