December 2014, living archive


Documentaries and Experimental Films on the Holocaust. From the Collection of the Arsenal


2015 will be dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust – a subject that is of particular significance for our institution, given that the cinematic engagement with the Holocaust has formed a key concern of our work since the very foundation of our association in 1963, then called the Friends of the German Film Archive. This is still apparent to this day, whether in our cinema program, that of the Berlinale Forum we organize, or in our arsenal distribution portfolio. One of the most prominent events at the 1986 Forum was thus the German premiere of Claude Lanzmann’s SHOAH at the Delphi-Filmpalast, a film that has since formed part of our distribution range. Additional films on the same theme shown at the Forum and subsequently added to our film archive include DIE FEUERPROBE by Erwin Leiser, HA'MAKAH HA'SHMONIM VE'AHAT (The 81st Blow) by David Bergman et al, and Lanzmann’s SOBIBOR, 14 OCTOBRE 1943, 16 HEURES. These special audiovisual documents of their times are in danger of fading into obscurity. On the one hand, the film print stock is under threat from both decay and wear and tear, while the media shift of recent years on the other means that there are fewer and fewer places capable of screening analogue films. In order to ensure this form of cinematic remembrance also remains accessible for coming generations, a selection of around 50 titles from our film collection has been put together, ten of which will be digitalized or, if already available in digital form, acquired for digital projection over the next 10 months. The selection includes both well-known films as well as those that have received less attention or been undeservedly forgotten. From January 2015, a catalogue of the 50 thematically relevant works from our collection will be available to present and contextualize the films in question.

From January 27 to February 4 2015, a comprehensive film series including introductions to the films, Q&As, and discussions will be taking place at the Arsenal cinema to mark the start of the project. The focus is on questions of memory, archives, and public spheres. Beforehand, Christian Pischel’s FU seminar at the Department of Film Studies will be presenting a selection of the films in December and January in six public screenings held in cooperation with the project.

As part of the Forum section of the Berlin International Film Festival, two of the newly digitalized films which originally had their German premiere at the Forum will be presented once again together with various invited guests and a panel discussion. In October and November 2015, the project will celebrate its conclusion with the screening of all ten newly digitally available films accompanied by introductions to the individual films and discussions. Via arsenal distribution, the entire selection of films will be offered to cinemas across Germany for use in events to mark the year of remembrance.

"Asynchronous. Documentaries and Experimental Films on the Holocaust. From the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art e.V. Collection" is funded by the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin.