december 2018, living archive

Vaginal Davis presents Contemporary Vinegar Syndrome followed by Late Night Fermentation Salon by Wu Tsang

“It’s unclear whether the longing for a white Christmas is now being taken seriously, or whether it’s supposed to be denounced.” (Harun Farocki): On December 16, Vaginal Davis and Daniel Hendrickson present the agit-prop short WHITE CHRISTMAS (West Germany 1968) together with Michael Curtiz’s musical of the same name (USA 1954). While Farocki juxtaposes Bing Crosby’s mawkish Christmas song with footage of the Vietnam War, Michael Curtiz’ classic tells the story of two former war comrades who have now become a successful Broadway duo. They have to help their former general out of a jam. His hotel is chronically under-booked, with a Christmas show supposed to get business going again.


What’s special this time round: Contemporary Vinegar Syndrome is taking place at the Gropius Bau at the invitation of Wu Tsang, In House: Artist in Residence 2018! After the screening, Wu Tsang and Liz Rosenfeld will receive guests at their late-night fermentation salon with cocktails and other specialties. As always, we look forward to seeing members of the Arsenal Freundeskreis and those who maybe want to join!

december 2018, living archive

This Month's Filmmakers’ Choice

Of parents and networks. Of looking back and of the present. 21.12. – Le jour le plus court – the day of short films and three days before Christmas. The question of the parent may be asked. Where are they, were they, will they be? How much dissent is allowed and desired, or even possible? How much of a coming together can be made to happen? The program narrates presence and absence, great longing and radical breaks. Ingmar Bergman, after having nine children and hearing that he apparently wasn’t a family guy, wrote of his longing for togetherness as follows: “I have a prayer that I repeat to myself in absolute stillness: May a wind come to stir up the ocean and the stifling twilight. May a bird come from water out there and explode the silence with its call.” The call for everyday life on the island! Presented by Maike Mia Höhne.

november 2018, living archive

Public Screening –The Harun Farocki Institute Presents

For the next public screenin on November 1, Ali Hussein Al Adawy, currently a Harun Farocki Residency fellow, has chosen LE CHARBONNIER/EL FAHAM (Algeria 1972) by Mohamed Bouamari (1941–2006). “Belka-cem, a former resistance fighter for the ALN (Armée de Libération Nationale, this military arm of the National Front for Algerian Independence), works as a charcoal burner and lives out a daily battle with nature. He transforms wood into coal and tries to sell it at the big village markets so that he, his family, his wife and two children, can survive. After gas is introduced as a source of energy, he loses his job and flees to the capital in search of work. When these attempts fail, he returns to his village defeated and finds his wife has switched sides: dreaming of independence, she has now started to work in the textile factory.” (Ali Al Adawy)

september 2018, living archive

Vaginal Davis Presents Contemporary Vinegar Syndrome

The new series by Ms. Davis, the archivist who delves most deeply into our basement, and Daniel Hendrickson, takes place in different places. This month, it’s in the Prinzessinengarten that the two will present an open-air program entitled “Borscht Belt Modalities”. On September 6, they will show a 16-mm print of A JUMPIN' NIGHT AT THE GARDEN OF EDEN (Michal Goldman, USA 1988) that follows Kapelye and Boston’s Klezmer Conservatory Band and was the first film to document the revival of klezmer music. This will be preceded by GRANPA SAM (2006), a series of celebrity photographs, commented by Vaginal Davis herself and Marc Siegel.

august 2018, living archive

Public Screening: re-selected: 1969 ff.

Another public screening with prints from the archives of Arsenal and the Oberhausen Short Film Festival as part of Archive außer sich: re-selected takes place on August 14.

“It must be this film which led them to categorize me as a political filmmaker”. In 1981, Dietrich Schubert recapitulated in a film why he was watched by the state for years. The trail leads to another film and into the year 1968. The program follows this referencing of the past, but places the tipping point one year earlier. If nearly all film festivals had been called off in 1968, it would only have been possible to see the following year whether the protests would actually change cinema. Films by Dietrich Schubert, Franz Winzentsen, Želimir Žilnik, Jan Švankmajer, Bill Hindle and László Lugossy from the 25th Oberhausen International Short Film Festival in 1969 allow this year to appear in more differentiated fashion than platitudes of “wild ‘68” suggest.

august 2018, living archive

This Month's Filmmakers' Choice

In this Month's edition of Filmmakers' choice Bärbel Freund will present a selection of her own films as well as films with and by Ute Aurand and Karl Heil.

We are delighted to welcome Bärbel Freund, Ute Aurand and Karl Heil as our guests on August 1.

june 2018, living archive

Public screening: re-selected – Five films from Latin America, 1969–1980

The Oberhausen Short Film Festival’s three-year “re-selected” project is examining “film history as a history of film prints” (as part of “Archive außer sich”). Special attention is paid to films stored both in the Oberhausen archive as at Arsenal. The idea is to re-examine the visible relationship between the two institutions in the context of public screenings that will take place every two months. The program will kick off on 19th June with five films from Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina and El Salvador, which were made as part of the struggle against despotism and render visible the political landscapes of the 1970s. Peter B. Schumann who in the past was the most important specialist on independent filmmaking in Latin America for both institutions will be our guest.

june 2018, living archive

Filmmakers’ Choice: Life between wars

The next programme of our series Filmmakers' Choice is presented by Sandra Schäfer on June 11: The films which were shot in Syria and Lebanon between 1979 and 2017 deal – from different perspectives – with the production of architecture and ideologies, as well as with everyday life during war and between wars. STEP BY STEP (Ossama Mohammad) observes male villagers in Syria who choose to join the army in 1979. MY FATHER IS STILL A COMMUNIST: INTIMATE SECRETS TO BE PUBLISHED (Ahmad Ghossein) depicts the civil war in Lebanon as an intimate portrait from his mother’s everyday life. The 2006 Lebanon War provides the backdrop for the films of Maher Abi Samra and Sandra Schäfer. Abi Samra films a rescue operation of trapped people during the emergency of war itself. Schäfer observes the reconstruction of a Beirut district 10 years later.

may 2018, living archive

Re-Selected – Film History as Print History

The “re-selected” project will be presented at the 64th International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen on 4th May. It is a joint project with Arsenal as part of “Archive außer sich”.

re-selected has taken three years to follow up on a perhaps unfashionable intuition: At the designated “end of the analogue era”, the project will devote itself to select films from the Short Film Festival’s analogue stock and examine film history as a history of individual film prints. Examining the particularities of a print throws up questions to do with a concrete development, with local audiences and historical constellations. What does the existence of a print in a particular place mean? Where and when was a film screened? Who saw it? What version? In what state? When special attention is given to a pool of about 80 films archived at Oberhausen and Arsenal, then it’s also a question of the curatorial practices of these two institutions and their impact over the years. Between now and 2020, there will be events of different formats, not only in Oberhausen and Berlin, but in other places that are connected to the impact of the concrete prints. The plan is for the project to close with a publication that will formulate experiences and results as a contribution to the writing of film history in the post-analogue age.

may 2018, living archive

Archive außer sich: Italy ’68

Between 1968 and 1977, there wasn’t just an increase in the number of campaigns conducted by the New Left on the streets of Italy, new forms of cinematic mass communication also sprung up alongside them. Labor disputes and police violence found their way into the films of the New Left, with feminist groups drawing attention to female living realities and themes such as abortion or machismo. The anti-psychiatry movement had a greater effect in Italy than in other countries, which ultimately brought about the abolition of closed psychiatric clinics. The films of the Italian New Left were a laboratory of cinematic forms. Prints from the Arsenal archive make up the bulk of the program put together by Cecilia Valenti and Fabian Tietke, which is supplemented with additional works and placed in a broader context by various guests and introductions from May 10-17.

In addition, a central work of the (Post)'68 Movement will be presented by Conztanze Ruhm on May 8 as part of the "Archive außer sich"- project: ANNA by Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli (1972-75).

april 2018, living archive

This Month's Filmmakers’ Choice

The next edition of Filmmakers' Choice is presented by Jen Liu on April 23: We Have To Learn How To Enjoy The Beauty Of Life – Beauty seems fatuous, manufactured with suspect intentions. It seems more shrewd to become close friends with bleakness. But in combination, can beauty and bleakness generate more complex reflections?

A clue is in the title of this program, a quote from THE SHOE (1986). The teacher demands beauty, insisting that white chalk is red or blue, and that rainbow drawings can be made with broken pencils. The insistence on nonexistent beauty generates beauty in the effort to suspend belief.All these works include such suspensions. In XÉNOGÉNÈSE (1982), a man in suit and tie navigates scraped lines amidst trash. IMAGES OF A CENTER (2005) speaks of such a utopian social order, that off-screen realities are brought deeper into relief. And in YUMEN (2013), the depleted landscape of a former oil extraction town becomes the final stage set for wandering humans and 16mm film, the medium of ghosts.

april 2018, living archive

Living Archive Residents: Anna Azevedo and Leandro Listorti

This month, we are welcoming the current Living Archive residents to Arsenal: the filmmaker Anna Azevedo (Rio de Janeiro) and the filmmaker and archivist Leandro Listorti (Buenos Aires).

On April 8, the two will present a program consisting of films made by them and others from the Arsenal archive. Azevedo’s documentary DREŽNICA (Brazil, 2008) was compiled with amateur Super 8 images from the 1970s and describes a lyric journey through the images and dreams of blind people. “Drežnica” is a place where snow meets the sea, where the days are full of stars and the nights flooded with sunlight. It can only be “seen” by people who cannot see. VACANCY (Germany ,1998) is a draft for a utopian city, a place abandoned by its inhabitants, a museum kept alive only for its watchmen. Matthias Müller interweaves his own footage with extracts from amateur films and features filmed in Brasilia. Leandro Listorti will present the collaborative film project SUCESOS INTERVENIDOS (Argentina 2014). The archive of the “Sucesos Argentinos”, a weekly newsreel that was screened in the cinemas from 1938 to 1972, is housed in the Pablo C. Ducrós Hicken Film Museum in Buenos Aires. To underscore the urgency of digitalizing the archive, the museum invited filmmakers to produce new works on the basis of the newsreels. The Living Archive residency was founded in conjunction with the Goethe Institute in 2011.

february 2018, living archive

"Archive außer sich": A New Arsenal Project

A long-term series entitled “Archive außer sich”, featuring research, event and exhibition projects, examines film heritage and its archives. At its basis is an idea from Living Archive: Research, digitalization and restoration of archives are part of an artistic, curatorial and/or academic practice.

What is a film archive today? What does the public expect from an archive and what present and future can archival constellations form? What new forms of navigation, including speculative ones, can be developed? Archives are laboratories for critical reflection in the “heritage” category, e.g. in relation to a past of colonialism and immigration or to political and aesthetic movements. Apart from yielding returns with regard to film history and theory, the project intends to contribute to the development of new prospects in cultural policy concerning film. Participating institutions: Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Film – Feld – Forschung gGmbH, Harun Farocki Institut, SAVVY Contemporary, pong GmbH, the “Film culture: Archiving, Programming, Presentation” MA program at Frankfurt’s Goethe University and the Seminar for Film Studies at FU Berlin.

The first events take place on 22nd February as part of the Forum Expanded event “Think Film No. 6 – Archival Constellations“.

february 2018, living archive

Filmmakers' Choice

The next Filmmakers' Choice will be presented by Eleonore de Montesquiou on February 28.

Jean Renoir once said that "the art of cinema is to approach the truth of the people." In my film, OLGA & OLGA (2017) I wanted to know what feminism, love and freedom meant for two friends in the Soviet Union. In Márta Mészáros' feature film ÖRÖKBEFOGADÁS (Adoption, 1974), women assert themselves against their parents, teachers and lovers. The short film HISTOIRE D’UNE FEMME (2005) by Karim Souaki documents the life of an elderly woman in Tunis on the margins of society. All three films try to approach the living conditions of women in their social environment from different cultural perspectives.