Flamingos Always Fly Due East

If the forces within man only shape a form through relating to new outside forces, which are the new forces they will interact with now, and what new form may arise out of it?
(Gilles Deleuze, »Postscript on the Societies of Control«, 1990)

The wall fell in 1989 and already in the summer of 1989, Francis Fukuyama described the end of history. The republic’s shaping is given a free run – as long as it adheres to capitalist principles. One land is sold out while the other finds itself in a state of shock. Techno is the new movement. Non-stop parties over several days. Ecstasy keeps the smile on your face and the water in your hand while rendering standing still an impossibility.
In his essay »Postscript on the Societies of Control«, Gilles Deleuze reflects deeply on these profound societal changes and describes the seam of the historic break and turning point. This seam makes it possible to view the historic moment, during which the »final transformation« from one form of society to the next is taking place, in real time. Michel Foucault described the former as a disciplinary society. According to Deleuze, the control society is next.
The French philosophers are adopted at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts (HFBK). The implacable aesthetic and political conflicts, which had been permeating the teachings and courses since the 1970s, are slowly abating. The barbs are becoming fewer and a certain calm is setting in.
Rüdiger Neumann is a professor for experimental film at the HFBK, and he runs a Hamburg sound studio as director. With »Archiv der Blicke«  and »Meridian oder Theater vor dem Regen«, he created structural filmic archives of the west. The contemporary music videos on MTV and VIVA are the new laboratories of experimental film. The old school finds itself at a turning point, their artistic strategies are at an end. At least, that’s the way Rüdiger sees things as he lays his head on the table. He’s tired.
For the students, integration into the seminars of the male professors or the only female professor, Helke Sander, is key, since this is the only way to get credit for the development of film material. In order to gain admission, you have to present one of your works. I presented my narrative short »Ce sont les autres qui vont mourir«. Rüdiger Neumann just said, »You’ll be a film maker.« »Why?«, I asked. »Because that’s the way it is«, he said. I was accepted. Still, I wasn’t satisfied by the reply. Only later did I understand that my work then and my subsequent works shared elective affinities with the films of Valie Export, Catherine Breillat and Chantal Akerman. Imaginary role models. Their works were never the subject of any classes, much less were they screened in cinemas. That meant I had to discover the body of memory and filmic references, when they were outside of the taken-for-granted mediating film canon, on my own. Just like feminist cinema played no role in the world of experimental film, even though this is perceived totally different these days, films from the GDR were considered irrelevant at the academy. The GDR’s cinematic subversive awakening got stuck on the Kastanienallee. Except for Dziga Vertov (whose wife did play an important role as well) and Mr Eisenstein, the eyes of the academy were turned to the west. The film canon was normatively white and male. French cinema was highly regarded.
The experimental film seminar took place once a week. There, the students presented their productions in turn. Neumann’s criticism was highly subjective and a student’s fall from grace was easy to predict. These things took place in sequence: If one work had been accompanied by the principle of praise on one occasion, then the opposite would occur the next time. In this field of tension between great societal changes and miniscule inner-academy tensions, the students created a great number of films free from objection. They were films which took the space for the transgression of limits in this weird double societal vacuum.
Among others, Ulrich Köhler, Jeanne Faust, Patrick Orth, Jochen Dehn and Lars Reimers made films in this seminar’s context. These films ignore big stories and plot. In their search for reality, meaning the congruence of facts and their depiction, these films use the means of documentaries, resulting in fictional enactments. They employ laypersons, friends of the directors and refrain from using make-up and costumes the way consumer-friendly TV productions would. Rosy cheeks are rosy cheeks. The situations described in these films are appropriate to the age of their makers: People on the lookout for a partner, yearnings and their failure. Politics are far away. Miniatures of an urban youth. The films convey an attractive and alluring immediacy. This immediacy registers.
Simultaneously to this movement at the HFBK, a new generation of Portuguese film makers is starting to emancipate itself from the great cinema of the republic and its history. A film school is founded as Portugal’s legacy is weighing colourfully and heavily. These predominantly male film makers work with strategies similar to those in Germany. The entanglement of necessities, such as the work with friends due to low production budgets, harbours the key to the reinvention of fictional work in narrative film. Later, other directors in Romania would adapt the long takes of the Wildenhahn school: enduring mundanity until it hurts. João Pedro Rodrigues shoots his first film, a homage to a young man of the night, with »Parabéns! «. The film is less about the drama of things to come but rather focuses on the playfulness of the night that meanders between the spaces. The lover’s laughter is a knowing one. The other one still has to call his wife while the lover is already pulling him where they belong: to the bed. Real laughter. Real knowledge.
Miguel Gomes studied film in Lisbon and shot a film that already describes the period in between in its title »Entretanto«.
The three programmes in the Contemporary Laboratory trace the lines on these first currents in Germany and Portugal. The programme X»Flamingos fliegen immer Richtung Osten« is also an anthology of the German short fictional narrative.
Today’s Portuguese cinema is very successfully represented at the major festivals, the films are winning important awards and are a decisive factor in the international contemplation of film and authorship. Many contemporary methods can be found in the works of Pedro Costa, João Pedro Rodrigues, João Viana, João Salaviza, Gabriel Abrantes, Carlos Conceição and others. Hybrid poetic, essayistic films stand next to narrative films that were staged in a documentary manner. Improvisation based on a narrow narrative guideline persists next to the kind of digital technology that makes pink pompon dogs fall from the sky to the football lawn. The wealth of the colonies and the resulting legacy is turning a national cinematography into an international thinking place. Post-colonial cinema as an opportunity to understand the present. Furthermore, most Portuguese productions are international coproductions, once again showing how the literary filmic self is nowadays a multiple one. German film, as a national cinematography, impresses with its rigorous focus on narration as the essence of its research, but not exactly with a playful attitude towards its material. According to Huizinga, playfulness is of essential importance. We invite all editorial teams to open up to playfulness with the seventh art and thus allow more experiments into the narrative again.


Programme 1: Screaming Helps, For Some It's Running
Thursday, 6th of June | 7.30 pm | Lichtmeß
Friday, 7th of June | 5.30 pm | Metropolis
Filmprogramm 2: Mono-Smooches Are For Beginners
Thursday, 6th of June | 9.45 pm | Lichtmeß
Sunday, 9th of June | 15.30 pm | B-Movie
Filmprogramm 3: Family's No Picnic
Freitag, 7. Juni | 7.30 pm | Lichtmeß
Sunday, 9th of June | 7.30 pm | B-Movie

FORUM: Forget the manifestos. Do we only get the films we deserve?
For the German film, crisis is the normal condition. When it comes to the causes, observers traditionally disagree: German film is too commercial or not competitive enough on an international level, it’s either too overly intellectual or too trivial, and its public funding is either too meagre or suffocating all creativity. Along with a crisis like that comes a boom of initiatives and movements focused on complaining about the state of things and demanding change. Despite their heterogenous lines of arguments, the many manifestos, position papers and explanations of the recent past tend to agree in their form of structural criticism. Yet these justified examinations of the existing conditions avoid analysing the dominant narrative of film making in Germany and the local narrative traditions or rather the lack thereof.

Based on the film programme in three parts “Flamingos fliegen immer Richtung Osten”, David Kleingers from the German Film Institute discusses questions which had so far only been marginally touched by the current debate with the journalist Anke Leweke, member of the selection committee of the Berlinale Form and RP Kahl, film maker and chairman of the board of the German Film Academy. Is the predominant focus on the economic circumstances of production and distribution falling short of understanding the predicament of the German film? Why is our cinema barely interested in everyday reality, despite the general nationwide appreciation for these forms of cinematography from other countries? Is the contemporary short film offering narrative alternatives, or is it essentially a symptom of the same problems? And do we ultimately only get the films we deserve?

FORUM: Forget the manifestos. Do we only get the films we deserve?
Friday, 7th of June | 3 pm | Festival Center Post