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june 2018, arsenal cinema

“it is the present, the present of the past” – Films by Ingo Kratisch and Jutta Sartory

“A woman becomes aware that she lacks understanding and sets off on a trip that brings her to New York. From here, she goes west and crosses the continent. Constantly on the move and alternating between early sympathies and later rejection, her European illusions yield to concrete American parameters. The subjective experience of the first journey continues in the second part as a search for the country’s structure in analytical form. Roads, buildings, bridges, landscape, cities and traffic create a model that unlocks the country’s reality.” (Jutta Sartory)

june 2018, arsenal cinema

Anna May Wong – Star, Icon, Boundary Breaker

Anna May Wong (born Wong Liu Tsong, 1905 – 1961) first arrived in Berlin almost 90 years ago to the month. It was April 1928 and the first Chinese-American movie star, who was already acclaimed internationally, had great expectations. She was glamorous, extremely beautiful and oozing with sex appeal. Her success had not changed the fact that in view of the Chinese-American population being largely excluded politically, socially and economically, she was often cast in (supporting) roles that promoted stereotypical ideas of the “exotic”. She would “joke” about the thousand deaths she had died during her film career, playing meek housemaids or calculating servants, women prepared to sacrifice themselves to their lovers or evil femme fatales, but always trying to bring dignity and elegance to the part. Main roles were rare, as were romances with happy endings. From the late 1920s, Wong travelled to Europe several times to find other opportunities for developing her artistic talents. She wooed the cinema audiences and artistic and cultural scenes of Berlin, London and Paris with her grace and elegance, her unstoppable energy and calculated coolness and her acting skills that allowed her to go from the erotic to the unscrupulous with such ease. Nonetheless, she never really fulfilled her hopes to escape the norms, stereotypes and roles of Hollywood. Despite the contemporary audiences’ enthusiasm and the global coverage of Anna May Wong’s films, her trips to China and her campaign to promote a better understanding of Chinese culture in the US and in Europe, apart from THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1925) and SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932), films featuring her have rarely been shown in Germany. Our program comprises 12 films, including a documentary, and illustrates Wong’s career in adverse political conditions, paying tribute to an extraordinary actress who broke boundaries and acted as a mediator between continents and cultures.

june 2018, arsenal cinema

Magical History Tour – Light in Film

In the beginning, there was light – a concept inextricably linked to cinema. The projection beam passes through the film strip and the lens, makes its way through the glass pane of the projection room and into the auditorium, hitting the screen at the speed of light as the film begins. The radiant glow of a high-wattage projection bulb is like a shimmering echo of the fundamental subject of film and cinema: light. It’s impossible to even shoot a film without daylight or artificial light, key or fill lighting, soft light or floodlights, to say nothing of the work of the camera and lighting team who design the lighting and position it on set. Lighting forms an essential artistic resource for the director, capable of telling stories or affecting how they are told, creating moods and unleashing different emotions. The 12 films showing in the Magical Mystery Tour in June give an idea of the huge diversity of working methods and effects linked to both light (and shadow).