“Please think within the film, and it will become very clear” – Ella Bergmann-Michels film lectures
Fortunately, Ella Bergmann-Michel’s cultural film work can be reconstructed. She attached particular importance to her lesser-known activities as a programmer, film agent and travelling lecturer, and she threw nothing away. Handwritten notes were typed up, dated and commented on, folders crammed full of film lists and remarks. Her lecture notes are scribbled on the edges of receipts, the backs of airmail envelopes, on cardboard lids and paper napkins. There are manuscript versions of the completed lectures which address viewers directly. In the early 1950s, she often had to invent the language for her lecture cycle “50 years of cinematic art” herself. She created words and devised generally understandable ways to explain the technical development of cinematography. Though she made no pretense of her preferences – she admired the abstract films of Norman McLaren and loved Asta Nielsen – she presented films across all genres and history. She wanted to display “this badly behaved, undomesticated mix of technology and the spirit of adventure, of pictures and literature”, in all its manifestations. She encouraged the audience to experiment („I ask that you confront the small films […] with as little prejudice as possible“), though she also invited dissent. In a combination of readings and cinema performances, we present a collage of her texts and some of the films she presented – and we present them in the same ceremonial hall in the same student centre where she often introduced her programmes.