The Forum now completes its programme with a series of Special Screenings committed to an alternative view of film historiography.
Since its foundation in 1971, the Forum has always shone a spotlight on historical films too, shaking the foundations of a cinematic canon whose main interest lies in feature films from Western Europe and North America. This year’s programme once again stands in opposition to such views and is dedicated to cinema from Africa, documentary and experimental film, “anti-cinema” films and salacious b-movies and “dirty” films.
Before becoming Nigerian prime minister, writer Abubakar Tafawa Balewa landed a bestseller with his biographical novella “Shaihu Umar”. In 1976, Adamu Halilu adapted the material into a film, which is set in the late 19th century and revolves around an Islamic cleric telling his life story, which bears the marks of slavery. Long thought lost, the film rolls for several prints were rediscovered in 2016 in the archive of the Nigerian Film Corporation and restored by Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office. The splendid new digital version of Shaihu Umar now receives its first screening at the Forum.
The Geschichten vom Kübelkind (Stories of the Dumpster Kid) were shown at the very first International Forum of New Cinema in 1971 and have now been digitally restored. The series revolves around a rebellious “Dumpster Kid” played by Kristine de Loup, who always appears in a red dress and has various anarchic struggles with society. Ula Stöckl and Edgar Reitz shot Geschichten vom Kübelkind in 1969 with only their friends. Their series of 25 16mm short films of different lengths was a way of positioning themselves outside of the standard cinema system, with guests at a sort of pub-cum-cinema in Munich able to “order” individual episodes from a menu. Together with the documentary Der Film verlässt das Kino: Vom Kübelkind-Experiment und anderen Utopien (Film Beyond Cinema: The Dumpster Kid Experiment and Other Utopias) by Robert Fischer, a selection of the unique films is now to be screened again. A “pub cinema” much the same as the original screening set-up will also be installed at silent green Kulturquartier in Wedding on February 19, with these Special Screenings attended by Stöckl and Reitz.
Put together over five decades, the Arsenal and Forum archive still forms an important part of the institution’s work. This work involves a large amount of international exchange, which forms the subject of a public panel discussion on February 22 as part of Forum Expanded’s “Think Film No. 6 - Archival Constellations”. One of the participants is Viviana García Besné, who attends as a representative of the Permanencia Voluntaria film archive in Mexico, which was heavily damaged during the earthquake in September 2017. The archive’s treasures include many of the popular films built around the character of luchador Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta alias El Santo, a wrestling superstar and actor who always appeared in his iconic silver mask. He plays the role of “El Enmascarado” in his first film Santo contra Cerebro del mal (Santo vs. Evil Brain), which was shot in Cuba in 1961 by Joselito Rodríguez. A restored version has now been created in collaboration with the Academy Film Archive, which allows an important piece of Mexican popular culture to make its way back into cinemas.