Daily Film Programme
featuring artistic documentary and essay films and experimental works from the years 1961 to 2019
Tue – Sun Noon – 7 pm
Pariser Platz, Black Box
Brutalität in Stein (Brutality in Stone)
Dir.: Alexander Kluge, Peter Schamoni, FRG 1961, German OV with English subtitles, 11 min
The two directors Alexander Kluge and Peter Schamoni counter the monumental ambitions inherent in the architectural staging of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds (Parteitagsgelände) in Nuremberg with radical visual fragmentation and dynamic camerawork in order to reveal the ideology behind the facade. The sense of cynicism to be found in the quotations from perpetrators such as the commandant of Auschwitz surpass even the brutality inscribed in stone. What is left? A heap of rubble. And a great many questions still waiting to be answered.
Die Judengasse (The Jewish Lane)
Dir.: Peter Nestler, DoP: Rainer Komers, BRD 1988, German OV, 44 min
Starting with the first surviving mapping of the Judengasse from 1628, documentary film director Peter Nestler goes in search of traces of Jewish culture in Frankfurt am Main, whose history stretches back a thousand years, and unearths fading signs, drawings and contemporary eyewitness accounts to reveal the erstwhile vibrancy of Jewish life. The film was prompted by the public protests of 1987, the so-called Börneplatz Conflict, which arose when plans to redevelop the former Jewish quarter were made known. The protests reverberated far beyond Frankfurt.
With the kind permission of SWR
Dir.: Hartmut Bitomsky, FRG 1986, German OV with English subtitles, 91 min
Constructing the autobahn system was one of the most prominent prestige projects undertaken in the Third Reich, and its staging was visually stunning and grandiloquent. It was only superficially about creating jobs and embarking on a communal endeavour and far more about creating an infrastructure for the Nazis’ existing expansion plans. Drawing on a wealth of archive material, Hartmut Bitomsky puts together a dense essay in which he probes visual strategies and takes space as an author to reflect on his subject.
Flat Roofs for Mussolini
Dir.: Bettina Nürnberg, Dirk Peuker, FRG/I 2012, German OV with English subtitles, 20 min
From 1926 to 1939, architect Giuseppe Terragni established himself as one of the foremost pioneers of Italian rationalism. His buildings, which are geared to classical models of architecture, combine functionality and aesthetics in a way that is still impressive today. Terragni openly avowed his support for fascism and offered his designs to Mussolini as a “national style”.
Im Leben geht alles vorüber (Everything in Life Comes to an End)
Dir./scr./DoP/ed.: Thomas Kutschker, FRG 2013, without language, 14 min
Thomas Kutschker’s work ponders the question of how a place like the Buchenwald concentration camp can be reconstructed on film. What can the architectural remnants of the barracks and execution sites tell us about the structures and routines that helped to operate the killing machines? The abstraction on the visual level extends into the adaptation of Marika Rökk’s 1940 hit song, whose title gives the film its name.
Dir.: Lotte Schreiber, DoP: Johannes Hammel, A 2018, German OV with English subtitles, 24 min
In 1930, Mussolini had the Pontine Marshes to the south of Rome drained. Like the construction of the autobahn in Germany, the project received extensive media coverage that was turned to propaganda purposes. In this process of land reclamation, five new towns were built, including the model municipality of Sabaudia. Today, the “metaphysical nimbus” surrounding the architectural vision is explicitly deployed as a means to promote tourism, with reference made, for instance, to the writings of Pier Paolo Pasolini, who chose Sabaudia as his summer residence.
Von der Reichskanzlei bis Paraguay (From the Reich Chancellery to Paraguay)
Dir.: Riki Kalbe, Barbara Kasper, FRG 1992, German OV with English subtitles, 7 min
Josef Thorak was one of the most popular artists in the Third Reich, and Hitler had a very favourable opinion of him. His monumental sculptures decorated the Reich Chancellery and the Reich Sports Field. The film follows the trail of a sculpture of a horse cast in bronze, which “failed (fortunately) to establish itself as a monument”. Thorak continued to receive public commissions until his death in 1952.
Wie aus der Ferne (As from Afar)
Dir./scr.: Dani Gal, DoP: Emre Erkmen, with Pavel Fieber, Charles Brauer, FRG/A 2013, German OV with English subtitles, 26 min
The film is based on the exchange of letters between Simon Wiesenthal and Albert Speer in the 1970s. Dani Gal reconstructs this unusual encounter with the help of actors Charles Brauer and Pavel Fieber. On the one hand: the Jewish Austrian architect and writer who survived the Mauthausen concentration camp and made it his mission to shed light on what had happened and to identify the perpetrators by name; on the other: Albert Speer, the leading architect of the Third Reich, who rose to become General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital and Minister of Armaments. Dani Gal juxtaposes this dialogue with a text by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Dir./scr.: Fridolin Schönwiese, DoP: Johannes Hammel, A 1990, without language, 24 min
The ruin of the old flak tower stands mountain-like in Vienna’s Arena Park. Film-maker Fridolin Schönwiese takes an analytical interest in the building, using his camera to probe the textures of the concrete block as he seeks to define its architectural structure. In the process, he makes use of various technical processes, which include penetrating its interior (the essence of the building) with a heat-sensitive camera.
Fields of Neutrality. The Last Interview with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Dir.: Dani Gal, DoP: Itay Marom, with Megan Gay and Walter Gontermann, FRG 2019, Original with subtitles, 32 min
In 1967, BBC journalist Grace Wyndham Goldie invited architect Mies van der Rohe, the last director of the Bauhaus (1932/33), onto her programme Fields of Neutrality. It was the final interview he gave in Berlin. In the course of the conversation, the ambiguities in Mies’s work during the Nazi period become clear. Could a famous architect with such a high public profile ever escape the maelstrom of current events? Dani Gal reconstructs this intriguing conversation.
Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges (Images of the World and the Inscription of War)
Dir./scr.: Harun Farocki, DoP: Ingo Kratisch, FRG 1988, German OV with English subtitles, 75 min
Farocki’s visual analysis proceeds from photographs taken by American pilots in 1944. The pictures show the industrial facilities of I. G. Farben but deliberately disregard the Auschwitz concentration camp, which was located nearby. Farocki uses this example to orbit around a zero point from which he draws complex and extensive lines of reference: these connect to images of the world before and after Auschwitz.
Es muß ein Stück vom Hitler sein (That Must Be a Piece of Hitler)
Dir./scr.: Walter Krüttner, DoP: Fritz Schwennicke, FRG 1963, German OV with English subtitles, 12 min
Walter Krüttner puts together a pointed satire on the mass tourism centred around Hitler’s Berghof residence in the Obersalzberg mountain retreat. In the 1960s, West German society still paid overt homage to the cult of the Führer. The director juxtaposes the jocular activity there with historical testimonies, thus exposing an element of psychological displacement and a past that remains unresolved. In his final summary, he says: “They’re not here to look out at the view but to look back in time.”