Internationalism, social thrust and the technical and artistic autonomy of the material were central to Ella Bergmann-Michel’s work. This approach dovetailed productively with the concept of the New Frankfurt association, not only in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für den modernen Film but as a requirement and impetus for her first two films. We show them here once more, together with Jonas Geist‘s and Joachim Krauss’ film on the “Frankfurt Kitchen“. Autonomy, social participation, and collective infiltration strategies in living arrangements (especially on the part of women) are also a topic for our guest Gabu Heindl (architect, Vienna), who knew Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky personally and deliberately seeks out these challenges in her projects.

Guest: Gabu Heindl

Wo wohnen alte Leute?

DE 1931, D, C, E, P Ella Bergmann-Michel, SC Ella Bergmann-Michel, Mart Stam, Print b/w, 35mm, silent, 13 min, DFF - Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum

Even the origin story of the Budge House, which is portrayed in this film, implies the common social imperative of middle-class patronage and New Objective, mass culturally-oriented modernism. Jewish benefactors Henry and Emma Budge were interested in collectivism: one of their important principles as donors was directed at the “equality of affluent citizens and needy people”. The architectural design took up this idea, and not only in its title “Collective”; the competition jury emphasized “the arrangement of the household and community areas, which are in the centre of the group of buildings; this design expresses the essence and spirit of the retirement home particularly clearly”. Doors and passages that open up – often those connected with public life – play a big role in the film: these include the post box, the daily paper and the community garden. The animated segments also highlight this, as “moving drawings” showcase the architecture’s mobility, open double doors, and communalise small cells into a large common area.

Erwerbslose kochen für Erwerbslose

DE 1932, D, SC, C, E Ella Bergmann-Michel, P Ella Bergmann-Michel, Paul Seligmann, Print b/w, 35mm, silent, 9 min, DFF - Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum

Self-help is not only the subject of the film; it was also the basis of its production: in a short time, members of the Film League solicited the necessary production funding from the “haute volée of Frankfurt society” (Robert Michel). The food warehouse landlord waived the rent; vegetables from the May settlement gardens were donated; the food was picked up on carts borrowed from “travelling hawkers” by the women of the “practical kitchen”; graphic artists created signs and posters for the public screenings at the Hauptwache; an unemployed railway conductor used his coin counter to tally donations and proceeds. Not least, the public kitchen served as a common space “like library rooms”, especially in winter; people told each other stories and their “personal ambitions”.

Die Frankfurter Küche

BRD 1985, D Jonas Geist, Joachim Krausse, Print digital, 42 min, absolut MEDIEN

Ernst May, named Frankfurt’s director of city planning in 1925, assembled a staff of young architects, planners and designers. With its wide-ranging aspiration to create a modern housing culture […] New Frankfurt distinguished itself as the most innovative major New Construction project of the 1920s.  (DVD Booklet Edition Bauhaus - Das Neue Frankfurt, absolut Medien)  60 years later, in 1985, the filmmakers portray the New Frankfurt housing development from a historical perspective as well as from the point of view of its current users. Part 3, which we screen here, focusses on the Frankfurt Kitchen. Architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky explains the origin story of her concept in an interview; residents demonstrate its use in action; archival material and new footage reveal how the housing model and day-to-day living adapt to each other symbiotically.

WED, 22.1.20


Kino des DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum