september 2018, arsenal cinema

Hollywood Blacklist

What do you think of communism? All US artists and intellectuals were expected to have an opinion on this issue in the 1930s. In the second half of the following decade, this was no longer necessary. All possible sympathies for socialist ideas were branded “un-American”. The Cold War had begun. Reactionary forces, which had long been bothered by what they considered decadence and leftist tendencies in Hollywood, used the chance to portray the film industry as being infiltrated by communists. In October 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) started conducting hearings in Washington. Of dozens subpoenaed to answer questions, 11 – Alvah Bessie, Herbert J. Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, Dalton Trumbo and Bertolt Brecht – were branded “unfriendly witnesses”. With the exception of Brecht, who left for Europe shortly afterwards, they all refused to answer the question: “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” A month later, the “Hollywood Ten” were sentenced to imprisonment. The studios succumbed to the pressure of the anti-communist witch-hunters and the Hollywood blacklist was born. There were further HUAC hearings after 1951 and conservative publications also started publishing lists of “suspects”. In the following years, hundreds in the film industry lost their livelihoods. Many were not able to find work in the entertainment industry until the 1960s, if at all.

This month's retrospective curated by Hannes Brühwiler pays tribute to those affected by the blacklist and features a selection of their films. All 24, including several which have rarely been screened, explore the filmmakers’ key concerns: fascism (THE MAN I MARRIED), exploitation (GIVE US THIS DAY), racism (CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY), feminism (I CAN GET IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE), the greed of capitalism (FORCE OF EVIL) and more than once the despair of the worker-class (THE SOUND OF FURY). In sum, a left-wing vision of the US, which is rarely utopian but always exact and analytical, emerges. It is a cinema of “clairvoyant pessimism” (Noël Burch) that is as pertinent today as it was then.

Most of the films were made before the blacklist was compiled. They shed light on the liberties the filmmakers were able to take within Hollywood’s narrow confines and reveal the conflicts that arose. They also underline the fact that there was a significant creative bloodletting (contrary to popular belief). This retrospective explicitly opposes Billy Wilder’s malicious comment: "Of the ten, two had talent, and the rest were just unfriendly.” JOHNNY GUITAR and RED HOLLYWOOD are two films which comment on the blacklist in different ways.

35mm prints of all the features will be shown; many of them have been restored.

NB: The names of those affected by the blacklist are in bold.

september 2018, arsenal cinema

Magical History Tour
 – Forms of the Grotesque

As an artistic stylistic device, the grotesque crosses all boundaries. Its definitions are as varied and subjective as its shifts in meaning in (art) history are numerous and its forms in film are frequent and multifaceted. Grotesque motifs appear in worlds of images, send shivers, combine with fantasy or humor (or both), light up characters, whose behavior ranges from the bizarre and eccentric to the monstrous, provide the basis for whole storylines, deform and transform cinematographic reality or break new ground in dramatic feverish dreams, hysterical excesses or satirical and absurd confusions. Grotesque elements can be found in all genres, from the comedy to the thriller, to Heimat films or romantic movies. Taking in different eras, styles and regions as usual, this month's 10 Magical History Tour films illustrate the influence of the grotesque’s anarchic force – in ways that can be upsetting at times, or exhilarating, but always idiosyncratic and surprising.

september 2018, arsenal cinema


september 2018, transfer

Next Projection Room Tour on September 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 September 29, at 4pm. Please register in advance. 

september 2018, transfer

Autumn School for Teachers: Showing and Telling in Film

The first ever Autumn School for teachers takes place from 11.–13.10. and is entitled “Showing and Telling in Film”. The further training program unites film analysis and practice, presents different teaching methods, and offers an in-depth look at forms of film narration and documentation. The Autumn School was conceived by film educators and scholars Bettina Henzler and Stefanie Schlüter, who will be carrying out the program together with film director and historian Brigitta Wagner.


arsenal cinema: Magical History Tour: Land in sight – landscapes in film

07:30 pm Cinema 2

L’année dernière à Marienbad

L’année dernière à Marienbad Last Year in Marienbad
Alain Resnais F/I 1961 With Delphine Seyrig
35 mm OV/EnS 94 min

arsenal cinema: Time and memory: The cinema of Terence Davies

08:00 pm Cinema 1

The Neon Bible

The Neon Bible USA/UK 1995
With Jacob Tierney, Gena Rowlands
35 mm OV/GeS 91 min