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february 2019, arsenal cinema

The Total Filmmaker: Jerry Lewis

Ever since as a five-year-old, Jerry Lewis stood on stage for the first time and made the audience laugh by bumping into a stage light and making it explode it was clear what lay ahead for him: That he would have to stumble, slip and fall for the rest of his life. His fortunate encounter with Dean Martin at the age of 19 led to a breakthrough. The two worked together for 10 years and made 16 films on top of their stage shows before parting ways. Jerry Lewis had already developed his iconic image by then: Next to the good-looking and cool Dean Martin, he came across as a childish and innocent being, who couldn’t but help crazily trigger disasters with his sheer presence. His performances in which something unexpected and suppressed would burst out, were characterized by a style that combined mimicry, body language and pitch with obsessive intensity. The abrupt changes of voice and ways of speaking, of behavior and body language correspond to reproductions and changes of personality; in his films he often embodies several characters, transforming himself into another with the help of a drink for example. His films are more than a sheer succession of often absurd gags: Not infrequently do they slide into pure farce, exhibit satirical observations of show business and the cult of stars and expose the character of illusion. His idiosyncratic and original use of sound, color and decor earned Jerry Lewis the admiration of French critics in particular. In 1960, the “total filmmaker” was born after he started staging himself and decided to keep full artistic control in his hands by writing, producing and directing the films in which he played. Before and after the Berlinale, we will be showing a small selection of films starring and sometimes directed by Jerry Lewis.

february 2019, arsenal cinema

Ludwig Wüst Retrospective

Over the past 16 years, the independent filmmaker Ludwig Wüst (*1965) has created an oeuvre, which occupies a special position in cinema and not only in Austrian filmmaking. Wüst’s films break radically with viewing habits and are characterized by a concentration on fundamental human sensibilities. Born in Upper Palatinate, Wüst trained as a carpenter before moving to Vienna to study acting and singing. His artistic career began in the theater and he soon made a name for himself with his radically direct treatment of erotic and socially taboo themes. This theater background has had an important impact on his films, which seek unfiltered emotions, physicality and a powerful language, presented by outstanding actors. Furthermore, Wüst has built up a firm team of partners behind the camera. The cameraman Klemens Koscher has been with him since his beginnings in film. “The absoluteness of Wüst’s obsessive work – each shot imparts the now unfortunately rare feeling that it simply had to be made – combines with a keen cinematic conscience. Even when he employs a seemingly simple “documentary” medium, his implementation reveals an astonishing gift for reflection.” (Christoph Huber)

Arsenal will show a representative selection of Ludwig Wüst’s oeuvre, which the director himself has described as “guerilla filmmaking”. He will be present on all three evenings to talk about his films.

february 2019, arsenal cinema

49th Forum

Many of the films in this year’s program were inspired by literature: A novel by Elfriede Jelinek, a novella by Robert Musil and a prose text by Ronald M. Schernikau provide the starting point for feature films from Austria, Portugal and the US.

In their Super 8 silent film DIE KINDER DER TOTEN (The Children of the Dead), Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska from Nature Theater of Oklahoma take on Elfriede Jelinek’s eponymous ghost novel. It is a Heimatfilm and a home movie at the same time in which doppelgängers, the undead, a Nazi widow, a weary forester and a Syrian family of poets make their ghostly way through Styria - it is eerie and funny.

february 2019, arsenal cinema


In 2019, the term “expanded” that gave our program its name and was borrowed from the historical “expanded cinema” of the 1960s will be put to the test. At a time when moving images are omnipresent, “expansion” or border transgression, which connected avant-garde film with modernist art, is taking place within different parameters, if at all. The critique of the normativity of cinema remains relevant, but now that the avant-garde has found its way into the mainstream and the museum, the relationship between art and cinema has lost its tension. Instead we find ourselves in an echo chamber, as the Forum Expanded program illustrates, above all reflected by the changed relationship between the moving image and life as it is lived. A mythological theme – the song of the sirens and the Odyssey – is transposed into a present defined as much by migration, displacement and the shadows of colonial history as by affective feedback loops, to which we are not only exposed in the social media. ANTIKINO explores escapes from this echo chamber.

february 2019, arsenal cinema

Archival Constellations in Forum and Forum Expanded