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Film Is A Work Like Any Other: Talking with Christian Petzold and Christoph Hochhäusler

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Christian Petzold's The State I Am In (2000) and Christoph Hochhäusler's The City Below (2010) will be showing in September and October, 2017 on Mubi in most countries around the world.Christian Petzold (left) and Christoph Hochhäusler (right) on the set of Dreileben. Photo by Felix von Böhm.We meet in Christian Petzold’s office in Berlin-Kreuzberg. A giant wall of whispering books, almost like a Borgesian brain of fiction, encircles the table at which Christoph Hochhäusler, myself and the owner take place to discuss their films. The idea of the interview was to get Petzold’s take on Hochhäusler’s The City Below (2010) and Hochhäusler’s take on Petzold’s The State I Am In (2000). In the end, both filmmakers ended up talking about a lot more, as cinema for them has always been something that shines most brightly when remembering it, discussing it and loving it. The fictions proposed
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A Place of Hard Labor: Peter Nestler on Mubi

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Mubi's retrospective on filmmaker Peter Nestler, A Vision of Resistance, presented as part of a collaboration with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is showing in from July 18 - September 1, 2017 in most countries around the world.EssaysIt’s difficult to talk about Peter Nestler without talking about historical materialism and the dialectic, which is an interesting problem for a filmmaker to have—interesting, at least, now that his Marxism is in part the reason for his recent recovery in the United States rather than, as it was in 1966, the reason for a self-imposed exile from his home country. Born in 1937 in Freiburg im Breisgau—later incorporated into France’s West German partition—at 18 Nestler traveled abroad (in his words, “I went to sea”), returning for school in Munich. He made his first film, By the Dike Sluice [Am Siel], in 1962, and over the next several years fell in with a crowd of
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My Country: Peter Nestler at the Film Society of Lincoln Center

PachamamaBeginning Saturday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center is bringing to American shores the work of one of Germany’s finest filmmakers, Peter Nestler. Arranged in nine-parts, the extensive series is a major effort to make Nestler’s work better-known in the United States, where it has rarely shown. Nestler is a singular filmmaker, one for whom I have great affection, but also one who came to making films in a time and place singular in and of itself. The movies Germany produced for roughly the fifteen years after the reformation of the country after World War II is a period often misunderstood by cinephiles and, at least until recently, underrepresented in retrospective programming outside of the country itself. In the 1950s and 1960s, German leftists were outraged by the continuing presence of Nazis in the government of the young Federal Republic, and by the way that polite society did
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Eyes Don't Want To Close At All Times: Peter Nestler and His Films

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Above: From Greece (1965)

In London in November 2012 a retrospective of the films of German filmmaker Peter Nestler appeared for the first time in the English speaking world, where Nestler was and is still largely unknown, despite having a few vocal fans, including Jean-Marie Straub, Hartmut Bitomsky, and Harun Farocki. The clarity of Nestler’s films reveals the paucity of the contemporary documentarian’s work; in his films every image and sound counts, every idea is expressed precisely and with purpose, whether it is a history of manual glass making techniques in Sweden, or a look at Hungarian proletariat artists who worked in factories or as farmers all their lives, and now make art for themselves and for their families. Yet, like Straub, Nestler works only with what already exists, his cinema preconditioned on attentiveness to the environment in which he films: his compositions, voice-over, editing, etc, all come after the
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Albert Serra Film Wins Locarno Top Prize

Albert Serra Film Wins Locarno Top Prize
“Story of My Death,” Catalan director Albert Serra’s imagined meeting of two oft-filmed historical figures—Casanova and Dracula—won the Golden Leopard Saturday night at the 66th Locarno Film Festival, the first edition under the stewardship of festival director Carlo Chatrian.

The international competition jury headed by Filipino helmer Lav Diaz awarded the second-place Special Jury Prize to Portugal’s Joaquim Pinto for “What Now? Remind Me,” a widely admired diary film documenting the filmmaker’s battle against his combined HIV and Hepatitis C infections. Pic also nabbed the top prize of the Fipresci international film critics association.

The prolific Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo copped the best director Leopard for “Our Sunhi,” his second new film to premiere this year, following Berlin competition entry “Nobody’s Daughter Haewon.”

A double winner earlier this year at SXSW, Destin Cretton’s “Short Term 12” added another two prizes to its festival tally,
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Vagrancy and drift: the rise of the roaming essay film

For years the essay film has been a neglected form, but now its unorthodox approach to constructing reality is winning over a younger, tech-savvy crowd

For a brief, almost unreal couple of hours last July, in amid the kittens and One Direction-mania trending on Twitter, there appeared a very surprising name – that of semi-reclusive French film-maker Chris Marker, whose innovative short feature La Jetée (1962) was remade in 1995 as Twelve Monkeys by Terry Gilliam. A few months earlier, art journal e-flux staged The Desperate Edge of Now, a retrospective of Adam Curtis's TV films, to large audiences on New York's Lower East Side. The previous summer, Handsworth Songs (1986), an experimental feature by the Black Audio Film Collective Salman Rushdie had once attacked as obscurantist and politically irrelevant, attracted a huge crowd at Tate Modern when it was screened shortly after the London riots.

Marker, Curtis, Black Audio: all have
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Vagrancy and drift: the rise of the roaming essay film

For years the essay film has been a neglected form, but now its unorthodox approach to constructing reality is winning over a younger, tech-savvy crowd

For a brief, almost unreal couple of hours last July, in amid the kittens and One Direction-mania trending on Twitter, there appeared a very surprising name – that of semi-reclusive French film-maker Chris Marker, whose innovative short feature La Jetée (1962) was remade in 1995 as Twelve Monkeys by Terry Gilliam. A few months earlier, art journal e-flux staged The Desperate Edge of Now, a retrospective of Adam Curtis's TV films, to large audiences on New York's Lower East Side. The previous summer, Handsworth Songs (1986), an experimental feature by the Black Audio Film Collective Salman Rushdie had once attacked as obscurantist and politically irrelevant, attracted a huge crowd at Tate Modern when it was screened shortly after the London riots.

Marker, Curtis, Black Audio: all have
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Traces: A Conversation with Peter Nestler

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The retrospective dedicated to the work of Peter Nestler organized by Tate Modern and Goethe-Institut in London that runs between the 10th and the 17th of November is the first big retrospective of Nestler’s films in the Anglophone world. The program of the documentary festival Dok Leipzig also featured a collection of Nestler’s films, and absolut Medien just put out a DVD box set featuring many of Nestler’s films. This interview, conducted with Martin Grennberger, is a shorter version of the original text published at Magasinet Walden and was translated to English by myself and Kurt Walker.

Martin Grennberger: The documentary filmmaker Hartmut Bitomsky has described your thematic approaches and ideological concerns as a product of attitudes that took shape during the 1950s. Specifically, a position which tries to establish a functional critical attitude and a policy based on an anti-fascist stance; but also criticizes what you
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A Metonymic Cinema: Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s "Abendland" and "Danube Hospital"

At least since the 1990s, Austria has commanded a central place within global cinema culture, certainly within that portion of it governed in a semi-official manner by film festivals and arthouses. Like many such European film scenes, many of its members have moved quite easily between fiction and documentary modes (Ulrich Seidl and Michael Glawogger, to cite the most obvious and prolific). Still, the documentary element remains too seldom remarked upon as a spiritual source for the unique, penetrating gaze that characterizes so many of key Austrian films. Generally speaking, fictional features by the likes of Michael Haneke, Jessica Hausner and Michael Schleinzer have drawn more attention from programmers and distributors than the documentaries of Nikolaus Geyrhalter. This is par for the course with nonfiction cinema. But it nevertheless seems worth mentioning here because, in terms of the tone, construction, and global attitude of Geyrhalter’s cinema, his work seems
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Daily Briefing. Norman Foster + Deutsche Docs

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"How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster?, an admiring documentary about the British architect Norman Foster, by Norberto López Amado and Carlos Carcas, gives the viewer quite a lot to marvel at, which is, after all, the root meaning of the word 'admire,'" begins Ao Scott in the New York Times. "Accompanied by Joan Valent's pulsing, soaring score, the camera swoops over some of Mr Foster's largest and best-known structures and floats through the bright and airy interiors of his skyscrapers. Even before you hear Paul Goldberger (a former architecture critic for The New York Times, currently at The New Yorker) describe Mr Foster as 'the Mozart of Modernism,' you can appreciate the grace and harmony of his compositions in glass, steel and light."

For Benjamin Sutton, writing in the L, "what's most remarkable about this documentary," currently at the IFC Center through Tuesday, "is how
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Daily Briefing. Synecdoche, Moscow

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The weekend's must-read is Michael Idov's report in GQ from the set of Ilya Khrzhanovsky's (4) latest project, Dau, which "has been in production since 2006 and won't wrap until 2012, if ever." I first came across it via a tweet from Vince Keenan: "It's Synecdoche, New York. Only it's real. And Russian." Very. Ostensibly a biopic based on the life of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Lev Landau, Dau has become "an entire city, built to scale" in eastern Ukraine and populated by 300 cast and crew members who literally live, day in and day out, inside a simulacrum of Moscow, circa 1952. It is also an Institute, of which Khrzhanovsky is the Head "or simply the Boss." There's a narrative arc to Idov's piece: "A day into my stay at the Institute, I begin to feel its pull." By the third day, "I have been reduced… to a sniveling Soviet stukach, a snitch." By the way,
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French Experimental Cinema 2010-2011

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Above: Zoulikha Bouabdellah's Al Attlal (Ruines), left, and Pierre Léon's À la barbe d'Ivan, right.

Nicole Brenez has curated two programs of new work from the French avant-garde for this year’s Rendezvous with French Cinema 2011 in New York; below she has offered her program notes in French. Program one (on Saturday) concentrates on filmmakers reappropriating images; program two (Sunday) is the new feature by Ange Leccia, Nuit bleue. Below, I’ve translated Brenez’s extended appreciation of Leccia and Nuit bleue; as usual, I’ve tried to stay faithful to the sound and rhythm of the original where possible. Beneath the translated extract you'll find the full article by Ms. Brenez in its original French. —David Phelps

***

…Although Ange Leccia has also practiced re-appropriating images (especially Jean Luc-Godard’s) in his installations and his films, Nuit bleuetakes up a different aesthetic vein, one rich with a long tradition of the French avant-garde.
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Dust

It was only a matter of time before documentarians started borrowing the "how one small item affects everything" model from the non-fiction bestseller list. Hartmut Bitomsky's Dust makes a pensive study of the title particulate, considering the way we wage a never-ending battle with the tiny specks that gather around us. Bitomsky interviews art-restorers who clean the dust off antique sculptures, dealing with the sick feeling that their efforts are altering the art ever so slightly. He talks to a Dust Bowl historian, and a housewife who's fanatical about cleaning. And he even lets the dust-lovers have their say, hearing out one woman who collects dust bunnies, because she's fascinated by the idea that dust creates its own mini-sculptures out of what we shed. ("The dust in our home is like an archive," she says with a twinkle.) Though Dust relies on the standard documentary mix of talking heads.
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It Specks For Itself

I never knew dust could give me such pleasure. No, I don't snort the stuff; rather, I have had the plea sure of viewing the charming German documentary "Dust."

It seems that dust has gotten a bum rap. It isn't just something to be swept under the carpet. It is "a mixture of various particles which can have various forms, colors and sizes, and different physical and chemical characteristics."

Not only that, but when dust particles collide, they create planets. (Does that mean that Earth was once just a speck of dust?)

The doc is directed by 66-year-old Hartmut Bitomsky, a writer,
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Starring Dust

If you didn't think the dust collecting under your bed is important enough to warrant a whole documentary, well, you're just not German enough. Leave it to our meticulous European friends to produce "Dust," an exhaustive examination of various aspects of the tiny particles, from the layer of grime that settles on our furniture to the toxic cloud that escapes into the air when buildings are demolished. It opens Wednesday at the Film Forum.

Filmmaker Hartmut Bitomsky takes a philosophical bent on dust's meaning and provides an intense voiceover worthy of Werner Herzog. "Wherever we go, dust
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German academy taps Bitomsky for director's post

MUNICH -- Hartmut Bitomsky, currently a member of the faculty at the CalArts School of Film and Video, will become the new director of the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. He succeeds Reinhard Hauff, who resigned from the post last spring. Bitomsky has made primarily documentary films, including B-52 (2000), and also is the co-publisher of German film criticism magazine Filmkritik.

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