Replay: ANNA

(1)–(2) Installation "Replay: ANNA", Atrium Filmhaus, June 2013 ©Marian Stefanowski

Invisible Producers / Appétit d’oiseau

A film essay about archives, film characters, cinemas, projectors, projections, clouds, and about a bird.

Replay: ANNA is an installation that configures the concept for the planned production INVISIBLE PRODUCERS as a spatial narrative in an exhibition space. INVISIBLE PRODUCERS is an essay film developed in the context of the Living Archive project. It is based on the film ANNA (Italy 1972–75) by Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli.

The installation is organized around a central photograph that shows a view of the Piazza Navona in Rome (one of the main shooting locations of ANNA) as the repetetition of a film shot. The omission in the image corresponds to the place where the pratoginist Anna can be seen; this omission is symptomatic for the approach of INVISIBLE PRODUCERS, which is about Anna, but does not show her. At the same time, the visual elements that are omitted become the backgroup of a display that collects the various materials into INVISIBLE PRODUCERS.

If you’re in the desert, you get a longing for cake, for cinema, for people… (Vincenzo in ANNA)

The Italian film ANNA by Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli, which was made in Rome between 1972 and 1975, was premiered on July 6, 1975 in the International Forum of New Cinema section of the Berlinale. Over the course of my research in the Arsenal archive I came across this flim, which had been all but forgotten for many years. Originally a central work of the (post-) 68 movement in Italy,1 it was only screened again for the first time in 2002 at the Locarno Film Festival. After being restored by the CSC Cineteca Nazionale and the Cineteca di Bologna, ANNA experienced something of a renaissance. The film ran in the section Orizzonti 1961–1978, the retrospective of the 68th Venice Film Festival, which was dedicated to Italian experimental cinema from the sixties and seventies; subsequently it was shown at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2012 and at London’s Tate Gallery, and in 2012 in the context of a showing of Alberto Grifi’s works at the Viennale. INVISIBLE PRODUCERS seeks in part to make a sophisticated contribution to the history of the film’s reception by critically highlighting questions of representation and of those (power) relations between the camera’s gaze and the actress, which are deeply inscribed in the film.


The film ANNA forms the gravitational center for INVISIBLE PRODUCERS, which is first and foremost a film about another film. At the same time, INVISIBLE PRODCURES makes the term “projection” its central topic: on the one hand, projection as a constitutive element of the cinematographic set up (projector, projection surface, the transition from analog to digital projection…); on the other side, projection in the psychoanalytic sense: projecting on something, on someone, which/who always stands in some connection to forms of desire and thus also structures the relationship of the audience to the events on the screen.

Between these two meanings of the term projection, a media-historical arc is drawn along an essayistic narrative, which – starting from ANNA – leads through film history(ies) and theories, but also through the histories of the film characters and cinematographic screening venues. The film is about different cinematic sites (Le Panthéon in the rue Victor Cousin in Paris; a cinema founded in 1911 in the Japanese village of Niigata; and the Arsenal cinema in Berlin); about three histories of projections (of a movie projectionist who refuses to project out of love, of Anna Karina as Nana, who goes to the cinema and sees Dreyer’s film LA PASSION DE JEANNE D'ARC, and of the role of the projection in the early years of Janapese cinema) as well as about three characters, all called Anna – Anna Karina, the (otherwise namelss) Anna from Alberto Grifi’s film, and a third Anna, who doesn’t want to be called that.

This film essay will be accompanied and commented on by clips from further films that come from the Arsenal archive, and through which the term projection will be extended in connection with various forms of cinematic recording and representation; the film will also be structured by a series of texts. The question of the relationship between projector and projection, of the single photographic image and movement on the screen, of the still and the sequence, and of the associated role of the audience is examined in the text Le défilement 1 by Thierry Kuntzel, who represents another important reference point for INVISIBLE PRODUCERS. The subtitle Appétit d’oiseau refers to this text, which seeks to define more precisely the relationship between the film strip in the projector, the projection on the screen, and the space that emerges between them, by analyzing an animated flim by Peter Foldes with the title Appétit d’oiseau. And also significantly, INVISIBLE PRODUCERS treats the relationship between directing and acting as a specific case of the projections between love and work, between exploitation and self-empowerment.

Eventually, all these coordinates are put into relation with one another, following the elements and ways that an analog film projector functions as a model (“projected” onto the projector in a metaphorical sense), so that the apparatus to a certain degree becomes the blueprint for the individual chapters of the film. Each chapter thus corresponds in a metonymic way to a part of the machinery of projection. In how it is constructed, the film symbolically reflects the structure of a projector itself, and, in a kind of mirroring process, it is projected back “onto” the projector in its parts.

At the same time, the question is raised as to how the functions of the analog projection apparatus can be transferred to contemporary forms of digital practice: that is, how an “old” machine appears again as a ghost within new media. What will become of the individual parts of the analog projector in the digital age? What of its spools, channels, lamps, and lenses, the mechanical parts? And how, if at all, can analog light be distinguished from digital?

The reference to questions of archival practice in artistic productions arises through the choice of films, which belong to an archive that itself can be seen, in analogy to the psychoanalytic discourses mentioned and psychic constellations of the characters, as the “psyche” of an institution, which is here symbolically used for the “cinema” per se. INVISIBLE PRODUCERS sees itself as an approach to a fleeting image, which – to paraphrase Kuntzel – “is always about to erase itself.”

“Between the space of the film-strip and the time of the projection, the film rubs out: movement erases its signifying process, and eventually, conceals some of the images which pass by too rapidly to be "seen," without, nevertheless, failing to produce a subliminal effect.” Thierry Kuntzel, Le défilement

Biography of Constanze Ruhm