URBAN FOREST / HUMAN JUNGLE
Experimental Short Films from Germany
When I started making films in the 1980s I was part of a thriving artist community in Frankfurt/Main. There was a lot of controversy about Peter Kubelka, the influential and eccentric teacher of film and cooking at the “Städel”, Frankfurt’s art academy. We had excellent programmers at the Filmmuseum and a regular “Avantgarde & Experiment” series. Our discussions reached beyond Kluge and Adorno and for many the American avantgarde was existential.
This program collects some highlights from that period and later years. The first part spins around urban topics, extended into outer space and rooted back to the woods. The second part diversifies the use of found footage, respectively found clothes and sounds.
All films (originally 16mm/35mm) are shown on DVD and have never been presented in the US (very few exceptions), despite awards and glory at the homebase.
Dagmar Kamlah / Curator
I. Urban Forest
Urs Breitenstein: ZEIL-FILM. 1980, 6 min
The camera is placed on the main shopping street “Zeil”. In a structural pattern of acceleration the camera rotates, stopping ever shorter at varying sections, offering an intense urban experience.
Dagmar Kamlah: GARNIT. 1989, 3 min
In the 80's the city of Frankfurt was uplifting itself into a postmodern boomtown. The film shows what in fact happened to the walls throughout the city.
Bertolt Hering: VON DEN LUSTIGEN DINGEN (Of Merry Things). 1986, 10 min
The film examines “furnishings” of the streets by self-testing; an animated and humorous approach to public space.
Gunter Deller: SCHATTENGRENZE (Shadow Bounds). 1999, 16mm, 9’20 min
In a moody urban environment, the camera mingles with the shopping masses, concentrating on ritual proceedings, typical gazes and movements. The varying intensities of light on the 16mm footage, the use of abstract visual elements and an associative montage of urban structures and surfaces, create a cinematic poem that seems to be dedicated more to the wilderness than to civilization.»
Lutz Garmsen: DIES IST DAS HAUS VOM NIKOLAUS. 1992, 35mm, 10 min
The title: This is the house of Santa Claus refers to a children’s rhyme that accompanies the drawing of a house in one line. The film interpretes the creation of the world in a fantastic interstellar vision, with a not happy ending love story interwoven.
Thomas Bartels: HAUT DER DINGE. 2009, 35mm, 6’30 min
Skin of Things oscillates between a self-portrait as artist and a manifestation of the fragmented nature of human perception via cinematic techniques.
Jörn Staeger: REISE ZUM WALD. 2008, HDvideo/35mm, 7 min
Journey to the Forest begins with a rustling tree seen through a window… (then, outside) pathetic remains of plant life meant to give the illusion of a bit of nature in the middle of the city (...) the camera glides through graphic-looking green areas, Avenues and monocultures, further and further out of the city until it gradually loses itself in the depths of the primeval-seeming forest.
II. Human Jungle
Pola Reuth: KOOL KILLER. 1981, 5 min
Breathtaking… A man dives off the 10-meter platform into the pool like the Rolling Stones play the crowd. A play with schemes of virility, establishing the political context of the cult of beauty beyond the psychological denotation of narcism.
Thomas Draschan, Ulrich Wiesner: YES QUI JA. 2002, 4 min
The starting material for this film was educational footage from East Germany. The music, a song by Michèle Polnareff called "La Poupée" in a cover version, was chosen by Ulrich Wiesner. The basic structure of the film: an alternation of redundant illustrations of the words of the song and abstract parts.
Anja Czioska: ONE PUSSY SHOW, 1998, 6’30 min
- a filmed performance: I started my 16mm camera and played with my clothes' collection of 10 years. You see me changing pieces, dancing and joking around to a soundtrack of the 60s. The camera took 2 x 3min at 12 frames/sec. I had fun.
Dagmar Kamlah: KULI. 1987, 3 min
Everybody (in Germany) knows Kuli: Hans-Joachim Kulenkampff - the quintessential TV quizmaster of the 60-70's. He is an icon, a John-Wayne-equivalent delivering the punch in a German way. In 1986 he was still active in a sequel yachting the mediterranean sea. As editing assistent on that production I rescued some random footage, which was not supposed to get exposed at all.
Gunter Deller: RIVERRUN & TOUCHDOWN, 2008, 7’30 min
This “found footage & stolen sound” production juxtaposes homemade travel footage - unknown source, found on flea market - with sounds well recognizable for American moviegoers.