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

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, arsenal cinema

Mirror – A Cairo Cimatheque archive program

The Cimatheque - Alternative Film Center, which opened in Cairo in 2014, provides a space for open discussions about cinema and its history. On offer are screenings, workshops, a library, a lab and an archive, whose stock comprises gifts from renowned cineastes, including Abdel Hamas Said who once ran the Egyptian Cinema Organization, the documentary filmmaker Atteyat El Anoudy, the animation filmmaker Ehab Shaker and the pioneer Nagy Shaker. Apart from documents, manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, reports, diaries and storyboards, the archive holds 35-mm prints and material about the important film works from the region and beyond, including less known treasures of film heritage: ephemeral material, found footage, amateur films and commercial films, newsreels, experimental documentaries or evidence of B-movies and shorts.

The Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre’s archive was created in a context where the public had no access to their moving image history. The constantly growing collection is now freely available. It questions official writing of history and creates a space for other narratives. Thanks to one single film scanner, the archive is currently being digitized and the aim is to place a duplicate at Arsenal. This implies questions: What does it mean when a protected space needs another? How will the duplicate differ from the original (beyond the analogue/digital difference) because of its surroundings? In a series of screenings, the Cimatheque’s co-founder Tamer El Said will introduce the archive while discussing these questions on June 16-18.

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.

arsenal cinema: Magical History Tour – Special and Visual Effects

07:30 pm Cinema 1

Der schweigende Stern

*Der schweigende Stern Kurt Maetzig
GDR/Poland 1959 DCP 90 min

arsenal cinema: Contested Grounds: Films by Shinsuke Ogawa and Ogawa Pro

08:00 pm Cinema 2

Sanrizuka – Heta Buraku

Sanrizuka – Heta Buraku Sanrizuka – Heta Village
Shinsuke Ogawa Japan 1973
16 mm OV/EnS 146 min
Print from the Japan Foundation