Views of political history. In focus: resistance to anti-democratic, interest-driven politics. A panorama of insights into the many ways this resistance forms in the pre-political space, and the particular role film and cinema play(ed).
Penny Siopis’ Welcome Visitors! takes up subversive music under the South African apartheid regime, in a story that is pieced together from found film and sound documents. Illusions is about two black women and their fateful meeting in Hollywood in 1942. The two women work undercover in the film industry, which is marked by war. One is the voice behind the blonde star’s radiant appearance; the other is well on her way to being a production assistant – since she passes as white. Soon she realises it’s time to openly take up the fight aganst Hollywood racism – like director Julie Dash did.
Germany, 1932: Ella Bergmann-Michel documents everyday Frankfurt during the election campaign with her mobile, inconspicuous Kinamo in Wahlkampf 1932. The camera’s gaze is oppositional; it stands up to everything that threatens it; documents major things and small indications. Maybe everything will turn out differently. – News from the new Federal Republic: Laura Padgett uses archival material from the beginnings of West Germany, again in Frankfurt am Main, in SOLITAIRE. A quick walkthrough of the years from 1950 to 1972 takes place before our eyes; the democracy project emerges; a speech by Hannah Ahrendt is an impressive moment. – Recent history: What happened to democracy? A commercial for the “Unraveling the NSU Complex” tribunal provides a contribution. To finish off the programme, Karin Winkler’s performing monuments looks back from today, deep into Germany’s colonial history. In observations on Namibia‘s culture of remembrance, the film reflects the German genocide of the Herero people. Winkler has empathy with Namibian women’s oppositional gaze at the official “monumental” culture of remembrance.
Followed by a reception
ZA 2017, D Penny Siopis, Print colour & b/w, digital, 10 min, engl. OV, Galerie Stevenson
The film revolves around „Skokiaan“, an illegal brew made by Africans during the colonial era. It was outlawed by the authorities, so the brew itself became a form of resistance. The homonymous jazz tune by August Msarurgwa was covered by Louis Armstrong, whose visit to Southern Africa in 1960 serves as one of many points of convergence that link political, cultural and personal narratives.
US 1983, D, SC, P Julie Dash, C Ahmed El Maanouni, E Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, M Eugene Bohlmann, Cast Lonette McKee, Rosanne Katon, Ned Bellamy, Jack Radar, Print b/w, 16mm, 34 min, engl. OV with german SUB, Women Make Movies, Academy Archive
The time is 1942, a year after Pearl Harbor; the place is National Studios, a fictitious Hollywood motion picture studio. Mignon Duprée, a Black woman studio executive who appears to be white and Ester Jeeter, an African American woman who is the singing voice for a white Hollywood star are forced to come to grips with a society that perpetuates false images as status quo. This highly-acclaimed drama by one of the leading African American women directors follows Mignon's dilemma, Ester's struggle and the use of cinema in wartime Hollywood: three illusions in conflict with reality. (Women Make Movies)
Fragment. DE 1932/33, D, SC, C, E Ella Bergmann-Michel, P Ella Bergmann-Michel, Paul Seligmann, Print b/w, 35mm, silent, 13 min, DFF - Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum
“The last film remained a fragment. There were shots of campaign posters, of lively street discussions, of typical followers of the various parties. Frankfurt’s streets and alleyways – already decorated with Nazi flags, hammers and sickles, and the familiar flag with the three arrows – were captured in the documentary. Then I had to break off filming for political reasons. That was in January 1933.” (Ella Bergmann-Michel, Meine Dokumentarfilme., Sprengel Museum Hannover, Inv. No. A 40. 04 – c – 01) After the police seizure and confiscation of the recently filmed footage, Ella Bergmann-Michel and Paul Seligmann decided to take the raw film material into exile in England to keep it from the Nazis.
DE 2017, SPOTS zum Tribunal „NSU-Komplex auflösen!“, Print colour, DCP, 3 min, german OV with engl. SUB
A survey taken on the streets of Berlin: What forms of transport do neo-Nazis use? The woman moderating persistently suggests that they use bicycles, an idea considered completely absurd by those questioned. neo- For Germans it seems utterly inconceivable that a Nazi would ride a bike. The fact that the NSU terrorists who placed and ignited a nail bomb in front of the Yıldırım brothers’ hair salon on Keupstraße fled on bikes, as they did after robbing banks, does not seem to have gotten through to the public. During questioning in conjunction with the NSU trial, senior investigator Josef Wilfling, Head of the Munich Homicide Squad, said: “I have never seen a neo-Nazi on a bike.” (TOWERMMK, Weil ich nun mal hier lebe, 2018)
DE 2017, R Laura J. Padgett, Kopie Farbe & s/w, DCP von 16mm, 2 min, dt. OV mit engl. UT
SOLITAIRE is an impression, made from documentary film material and radio broadcasts of the late 1950s until 1972. It was culled exclusively from the Hessian Broadcasting Corporation’s (hr) archives. The film deals with the concept of democracy, of having a voice and the contiguity between private and public space. These boundaries, which are in the process of dissolving, are made clear by cinematic history and the idea of news reporting as fundamental strands of our social being. (Kasseler DOKFEST, 2018)
DE 2018, D Katrin Winkler, Print colour, digital, 15 min, engl. OV with german SUB
A research on the consequences and (in-)visibilities of genocide, apartheid and racism in Namibia, by looking closely at some of the recent commemorations to the genocide of the Herero and the Nama by German colonial powers between 1904 and 1908. The film combines the gaze of the camera lens on an old monument that marks Namibia ́s struggle for independence, with images of the H.E.S.S. telescopes that measure cosmic gamma rays. (Kasseler DOKFEST, 2019)