The Forum’s objectives have always included the idea of looking at film history from the point of view of contemporary cinema. Living archive work produces new things of all kinds.
More and more films are being digitised and restored. This doesn’t just allow significant moments from cinema to be called to mind, but also enables existing film historical narratives to be reconsidered in a present marked by transmediality and globalisation. The title “Archival Constellations” is at once an expression of this interplay between old and new and a reference to the collaborations and acts of community and solidarity which enable digitisation to help rewrite film history.
New Works on Film History
Callisto McNulty’s Delphine et Carole, insoumuses (Delphine and Carole) is a portrait of filmmaker Carole Roussopoulos and actor Delphine Seyrig, who made use of new video technology in the 1970s and 1980s to fight alongside the women’s movement. Two further programmes complement the film: Sois belle et tais-toi ! (Be Pretty and Shut Up!, 1976) has Delphine Seyrig interview 24 French and US actresses about their experiences as women in the film business, while Maso et Miso vont en bateau (Maso and Miso Go Boating, 1975) by the feminist collective “Les Insoumuses” is showing together with S.C.U.M. Manifesto 1967 (1976), also by Roussopoulos and Seyrig, who stage a reading of Valerie Solanas’ manifesto of the same name.
In her documentary What We Left Unfinished, Mariam Ghani explores five uncompleted films made between 1978 and 1992 in Afghanistan before the ever-shifting backdrop of the different Communist regimes of the time, a period when high levels of film production rubbed up against censorship and propaganda. One of the most popular Afghan films of all times, which is shown on television every year at Eid, screens alongside it: Hamas-e eshq (Epic of Love, 1984) by Latif Ahmadi is a historical epic about the feud between two families. The feature Baba by Juwansher Haidary (1989) is also showing together with Khan-e tarikh (The House of History, 1996) by Qader Tahiti, which was compiled from news reel footage.
From the History of the Forum
Many films from the history of the Forum have formed part of broader counter-movements, striving for aesthetic, social or political change. Their efforts didn’t just leave their mark on the Forum, but also on the landscape of cinema. Five such films have been restored in the last months and now make their return to the big screen.
Two documentaries from the 1982 edition of the Forum examine the repression and displacement of indigenous life: Nuestra voz de tierra, memoria y futuro (Our Voice of Earth, Memory and Future) by Marta Rodríguez and Jorge Silva (Colombia, 1981) is regarded as a key work of political cinema. The Second Journey (To Uluru) (1981) by Arthur and Corinne Cantrill is an experimental exploration of the vast sandstone monolith in the very heart of Australia, a place sacred to the local indigenous population.
In 1984, a feminist noir shot on a grainy 16mm film with a script by Kathy Acker caused a considerable stir at the Forum. For its revival, Variety by Bette Gordon (1983) will now screen on a 35-mm print. Derek Jarman’s The Garden (1990) is just as unforgettable, a version of the Passion of Christ that shifts between humour and horror.
Since the world premiere of Béla Tarr’s 7.5-hour Sátántangó (Satantango, 1994) at the very latest, the Forum has been renowned for its fearless approach to duration. In black and white images thick with rain, Tarr wrote film history in 1994 with his magnum opus.
New Discoveries / Rediscoveries
In De quelques événements sans signification (About Some Meaningless Events) by Mostafa Derkaoui (1974), a group of filmmakers ask the local population about what they expect from Moroccan cinema. 45 years after being completed, the then-censored film is now finally restored. The 1983 documentary Say Amen, Somebody by George T. Nierenberg is a portrait of American gospel pioneers Willie Mae Ford Smith and Thomas A. Dorsey and screens in a restoration carried out by Milestone. In Egaro Mile (Eleven Miles, 1991), Ruchir Joshi documents the traditions and present-day lives of several Baul singers in Bengali-speaking India and Bangladesh.
Indian writer Ruchir Joshi also shot Tales from Planet Kolkata in 1993, a personal portrait of the city of Calcutta from the point of view of cinema. Two further restorations from India stem from Yugantar, the country’s first feminist film collective, that was founded in 1980. At a time of radical political upheaval, Yugantar created both a film with female factory workers, Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali (Tobacco Ember, 1982), and one on domestic violence Idhi Katha Matramena (Is this just a story?, 1983).
In April 1989, filmmakers Suliman Elnour, Eltayeb Mahdi and Ibrahim Shaddad founded the Sudanese Film Group (SFG). By June 30th 1989, a coup d’état had already brought any sort of cultural endeavours to an end. It was only in 2005 that the SFG was able to re-register. Forum Expanded is presenting six of their short films, including Al Mahatta (The Station) by Eltayeb Mahdi (1989), which is also showing in the Berlinale Shorts programme, and Jagdpartie (Haunting Party, 1964) by Ibrahim Shaddad, back then a student at the film school in Potsdam-Babelsberg, the story of a Black man being hunted in a Brandenburg wood shot like a Western.
Harun Farocki’s foundational video installation Zur Bauweise des Films bei Griffith (On Construction of Griffith' Films), in which he explores the montage technique of shot-countershot, was shown at the first ever Forum Expanded in 2006 and will now grace the opening of the Betonhalle, a new exhibition space at silent green Kulturquartier.
Think Film No. 7 - Archival Constellations
This year, a symposium once again is taking place that is dedicated to untapped, forgotten or precarious film archives as well as archival projects. Guests include SAVVY Contemporary, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Film Feld Forschung, Harun Farocki Institut, Pong Film GmbH, Didi Cheeka, Maged Nader, Sonia Campanini, Edmund Peters, Natasha Ginwala, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Ritu Sarin, Tenzing Sonam, Abha Bhaiya, Deepa Dhanraj, Nicole Wolf, Deborah Stratman, Nanna Heidenreich, Talal Afifi, Eiman Hussein, Haytham El-Wardany, Tamer El Said, Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri.
Think Film No. 7 is taking place as part of the Arsenal project “Archive außer sich”, a series of collaborative, interdisciplinary research, event and exhibition projects to explore film cultural heritage and its archives. “Archive außer sich” is a project in collaboration with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt as part of “The New Alphabet”.
“Shadow Circus” exhibition at SAVVY Contemporary is also part of this context: Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam present a new version of the documentary The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet (1998), which was originally commissioned by the BBC, together with an archive of audiovisual documents. The exhibition is curated by Natasha Ginwala and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung.
Delphine et Carole, insoumuses (Delphine and Carole) by Callisto Mc Nulty, France / Switzerland 2019 – WP
Sois belle et tais-toi ! (Be Pretty and Shut Up!) by Delphine Seyrig, France 1976
Maso et Miso vont en bateau (Maso and Miso Go Boating) by Carole Roussopoulos, Delphine Seyrig, Ioana Wieder, Nadja Ringart, France 1975
S.C.U.M. Manifesto 1967 by Carole Roussopoulos, Delphine Seyrig, France 1976
What We Left Unfinished by Mariam Ghani, United States / Afghanistan 2019 – WP
Hamas-e eshq (Epic of Love) by Latif Ahmadi, Afghanistan 1984
Khan-e tarikh (The House of History) by Qader Tahiri, Afghanistan 1996
Baba by Juwansher Haidary, Afghanistan 1989
De quelques événements sans signification (About Some Meaningless Events) by Mostafa Derkaoui, Morocco 1974
Egaro Mile (Eleven Miles) by Ruchir Joshi, India 1991
The Garden by Derek Jarman, UK 1990
Nuestra voz de tierra, memoria y futuro (Our Voice of Earth, Memory and Future) by Marta Rodríguez, Jorge Silva, Colombia 1981
Sátántangó (Satantango) by Béla Tarr, Hungary / Switzerland / Germany 1994
Say Amen, Somebody by George T. Nierenberg, USA 1982
The Second Journey (To Uluru) by Arthur Cantrill, Corinne Cantrill, Australia 1981
Variety by Bette Gordon, United States / Federal Republic of Germany / United Kingdom 1983
Al Dhareeh (The Tomb) by Eltayeb Mahdi, Egypt 1977
Al Habil (The Rope) by Ibrahim Shaddad, Sudan 1985
Al Mahatta (The Station) by Eltayeb Mahdi, Sudan 1989
Idhi Katha Matramena (Is This Just a Story?) by Yugantar, India 1983
Jagdpartie (Hunting Party) by Ibrahim Shaddad, German Democratic Republic 1964
Jamal (A Camel) by Ibrahim Shaddad, Sudan 1981
Tales from Planet Kolkata by Ruchir Joshi, India 1993
Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali (Tobacco Embers) by Yugantar, India 1992
Wa lakin alardh tadur (It Still Rotates) by Suliman Elnour, USSR 1978
Zur Bauweise des Films bei Griffith (On Construction of Griffith' Films) by Harun Farocki, Germany 2006
January 23, 2019