Film Screenings

Chris Marker / Alain Resnais
Les Statues Meurent Aussi
F 1953, 22’

With its conspicuous film-technical perplexity, Statues also Die is a unique example of 1950s French film’s commitment to exploring colonialism and African art and culture’s destruction. Building on the statement that "When people die, they become part of history. When images die, they become art. This classification of death, that’s what we call culture" (Marker/Resnais), the film never reached a wider audience. After its premiere at Cannes, Statues also Die was banned on account of its "anti-colonial" tendencies and was only released in 1968, against the directors’ will, when its form and content already seemed passé.

Werner Herzog
Fata Morgana
D 1971, 74’

Filmed on location in Northern Africa and Lanzarote, Werner Herzog’s Fata Morgana was inspired by a science fiction novel describing otherworldly observations of Earth. But rather than depict the universe as "estranged" it is our own everyday, natural environment that - due to the choice of perspective and shifted context - appears alien and strange. His adaptation focuses not on the establishing the background narrative but only "documenting", in a certain sense, otherworldly impressions in the form of an essay film. Set up in three chapters titled "Creation", "Paradise", and "Golden Age", the film describes a doomed civilisation’s dissolution, destruction and collapse. The soundtrack features music by Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen as Herzog’s mentor, film historian Lotte Eisner reads from a Guatemalan creation myth.

Karin Hartewig / Holger Kulick
Im Auge der Macht - Die Bilder der Stasi
D 2005, 45’

This documentary is an introduction to the observation, origin, function and camouflage of the most commonly used photo and film techniques used by East Germany’s Ministry of State Security. Previously unseen material gives a rare glimpse into the operations of a dictatorship’s secret police. The Stasi Pictures is a contribution to the history of visual observation and surveillance showing, for example, the operation surrounding regime critic Robert Havemann - the largest file ever created by the Stasi, along with surveillance for regime-hostile artists Wolf Biermann and a few exponents of the late Peace Movement and internal resistance in the GDR. The film also shows the Stasi’s meticulous attempt to shed light on the church as a haven for subcultures and oppositional groups through images and text, also providing a glimpse into the the Stasi’s unique world, their way of conferring orders, brotherly kissing, debauched celebrations, ministry fitness programs and their own children’s summer camps.

Isaac Julien
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask
UK 1996, 52’

Black Skin, White Mask is a documentary film focusing on one of Africa’s most important pioneers for de-colonisation and the Négritude movement: the politician, intellectual and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon (1924-1961). The film is based on Fanon’s own writings of the same name. Published in 1952 with Sartre’s student Francis Jeanson, the book criticised the notion that a black person has to wear a white mask to be taken seriously in the colonised world. Isaac Julien creates a palimpsest of archive material, interviews with Fanon’s relatives and statements by theorists such as Homi Bhaba and Stuart Hall. Starring Colin Salmon and featuring a series of still images and dramatic reconstructions, the film is a unique, cinematographic encounter with a visionary individual and his time.