“We are all Africans,” announced Meryl Streep, president of the International Jury for 66. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin.
With this statement, Meryl Streep set the tone for Berlinale 66., with its generous offerings of global cinema, as the red hot center of a universal movement into holistic integration, reflected within the individual and global society. Streep ingeniously parlayed her premiere position on a film festival jury as a gesture of return: “The globe should be half and half–not that it is binary but inclusion is the name of the game.”
George Clooney followed suit, far less eloquently, in response to a challenge by a Mexican reporter, asking him what he is doing about the immigration. He defensively dodged the question by turning it back on the reporter while announcing he had a private audience to discuss the matter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Thus, the “last of movie star” whose visible following in Berlin has severely diminished since his marriage, lit up the Internet gossip and news sites with the Berlin dialectic transforming the “immigration problem” to the “integration process” reflected in all aspects of the film selections of Berlinale.
As the daily premieres of Berlinale 66 progressed, it became apparent that immigration and geopolitical borders was the undeclared theme of the festival marking the decline of the movie star” and rise of the auteur intent on exploiting the collaborative medium of filmmaking as a passage of inner/outer integration.
The most memorable films managed to do both. Danish Tanovic’s Death in Sarajevo adaption of Bernard Henri Levy’s play won the Silver Bear Jury Prize for a dramatic depiction of the exterior/interior state of dis-integration in which a Sarajevo luxury hotel serves as the architectural geography of transformation from the lower realms of basement violence to the roof of intellectual discourse.
Ravi Pitts’ Soy Nero explored an immigration sub-theme of boundaries as Borge personal and geopolitical is story of a Mexican seeking to scale the border as a “Dream Soldier”. The first feature of the German director Anne Zohra Berrached had a biological boundary imbedded in its title, making 24 Weeks a moving drama of ticking time summing up the decision of the majority of pregnant German women to abort in the case of an unhealthy birth prognosis.
One of the more experimental films of the festival revealed universalism within geographical specificity; Hotel Dallas is a real tourist doppelgänger site in Romania, as well as a film collaboration between Romanian artist Livia Ungur and her Chinese American partner Sherng-Lee Huang uniting all manners of genre to create a surreal reality revealing the fallout of the communist regime’s methodology of attempting to instill social values through the airing of the eighties American hit TV show.
In Ali Abbasi’s Shelly, a fetus becomes a monster because of the failure of a Romanian body to contain the implantation of an embryo of a Viking couple. The horror film treatment of cross-cultural integration made this English/Danish/Romanian/Norwegian/Swedish film the unexpected Panorama breakthrough. The Panorama audience favorite, Udi Aloni’s Junction 48, pioneering new terrain of the Israeli Arab/Hebrew collaboration in which a Palestinian rap star expresses through his character original music embracing the multiplicity of new narratives arising from the Third realm of integration.
Fresh from its success at Sundance, Elite Zexer’s Sufat Chol (Sandstorm) is an intimate portrait of an enigmatic young woman pushing against the restrictive Bedouin social system to pursue her own path through love. This Israeli film, the outgrowth of enriching relationships the director established with the local Arab community, shared a powerful Arab actress with an Israeli TV hit, whose star arrived in Berlin to discuss how he plays both an Arab and a Jew as a human solution to the racial divide.
The first two episodes of The Writer screened in Berlin succeeded in breaking five taboos in as many minutes of its opening episode. The Israeli culture is therefore providing unparalleled insight into a binary system that can only be resolved through the creative leap into the Third space, defined by Aloni as a Noir Art transforming the dark energy of Uncertainty into the universal light of love.
The film that revealed the quest for integration as an explosion into a new cinematic form blending classical storytelling with urban hip-hop was Spike Lee’s electrifying Chi-Raq satire of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. The explosion of the Spike Lee vision, a celebratory culmination of his vision seeded in She’s Gotta Have It vibrated off the gigantic screen of the International Theater and through the audience of what has to be the boldest and most original display of feminine empowerment on the history of the silver screen.
On the third day of the festival, Gianfranco Rosi’s Fucoammare had its premiere. This breakthrough film had Golden Bear written all over it for the manner that it so deftly interwove inner and outer states communicated with a natural arising of symbols from the characters and landscape of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Where so many hopeful immigrants washed ashore in dreadful condition–necessitated treatment by the island’s doctor who stopped time at the press conference (above) with his heart rendering medical account of the tragedy. This unexpected Berlinale 66 star put the professional actors to shame–bringing the question asked of Clooney into a dialectic encompassing art, philosophy, religion and politics.
With this authentic disclosure of such a challenging new theme for global cinema, Mohammed Ben Attia’s Inhebbek Hedi, the first Tunisian film in two decades, won the Siver Bear for First Film and Best actor for Majad Mastoura. Thomas Vinterberg’s Kollektivet (Commune) about a seventies experiment in free love won a much deserved Best Actress Silver Bear for Trine Dyrholm. This courageous Botox-free performance of a seventies breakdown inscribed into the face of a female newscaster who planted the seeds of her own destruction from the fallout of convincing her husband to turn their spacious new home into a commune. In keeping with the celebration of the newfound feminine theme of self-empowerment through psychological descent, France’s Mia Hansen-Love won the Best Director Silver Bear for L’avenir, featuring Isabel Huppert in her most fulfilling role.
In deciding to liberate his collaborative art form from both communist and religious symbols, Tomasz Wasilewsk, director of Zjednoczone Stany Milosci (United States of Love) revealed the collaborative process by which symbols of unification (hieros games) unfold through the literal fabrics framing his nation’s foremost actresses within the Polish lead in the essential new narrative of feminine spiritual “embodiment”.
As a whole, Berlinale 66. was a festival mindful of the balance indicated by its number. Michael Grandage’s brilliantly executed first feature, Genius, revealed artistic breakthrough as the essential balance between archetypes of father (Colin Firth) and son (Jude Law). Yet the overt slighting of the feminine demanded by the male theme shared the actress Jennifer Eule with Terrence Davies’ A Quiet Passion. Dulled by the role of the creatively unfulfilled wife of Maxwell Perkins, Elle’s luminous feminity sharpened into a compelling portrait of sisterly counter-balance to Cynthia Nixon’s heart-rendering portrayal of Emily Dickenson’s fated embodiment of the human sacrifice required by female genius.
In marked contrast to the patriarchal control of hierarchical linear time revealed in Alex Gibney’s harrowing Zero Days Stuxnet revelation of planetary threat from covert technology, the festival closed with a celebratory reinvention of the French road film as a passage into the paradigm less of kairos.
Saint Amour co-directors Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern placed Venus into the body of the stunning green-eyed red hair Celine Sallette, providing a final image of feminine embodiment in her belly, pregnant with a future in which three fathers (Gerald Depardieu, Benoit Poelvoorde and Vincent Lacoste) claimed responsibility.
Three cheers for the future of film birthed in the third space of the erotic consciousness!
Toby Ashraf, the wunderkind Founder and Director of the Berlin Art Film Festival, who recently introduced a Mitte screening of ART GIRLS, the Berlin avant-garde multimedia feature film that crystallises the ever-present origin of a global movement centered in Berlin.
Still refreshingly raw as it appeals to audience participation for self-definition, the experimental (“Post Migration”) forms of categorization pioneered by the BAFF serve as a catalyst for a (R)evolution that is actively being shaped in its second year.
Ashraf’s brainchild is newly exploding the boundaries between art gallery and cinema, establishing a dialectic of integration along the way.
Ashraf lured the German actress Anne Ratte-Polle (above) to lend her star wattage to the 5 December “Nightsongs” kick-off charging through the border guards stipulating that art films be shown exclusively in galleries (for profit).
The BAFF screens films about Berlin. And what a subject! The communal space was chock full of electric shocks, which merely began with the focus on pioneering German female artists such as Helke Sander, Ulrike Ottinger and Isa Genzken.
During its 10-13 December run, the festival succeeded in characterizing the city that has become the world center of a new art movement encapsulating an icon personified in the flesh by the late American scene maker/artist Brian Tennessee Claflin, whose resurrection of the age of gender liberation in his club Pork surfed the collapse of the quantum wave in Berlin.
Tellingly, the brilliantly articulated multisensory ontology by the late American artist has branded the upstart BAFF as a pioneer upturning the cultural stasis represented by gallery walls shielding elite-bound art from communal ritual engagement found in the public theatre.
Kottbusser Damm 22 signifying Kreuzkölln as the Berlin cutting edge reminiscent of lower Broadway in Manhattan.
…of homage to the post-gender figure of Brian Tennessee Claflin…
In his memorial installation echoing the silver Andy Warhol Factory, complete with a video loop of “Trash,” Ashraf recollects Brian inspiring him to jump into the surfgeist by taking his clothes off at Pork. The East Village-style club engaged erotic play to satirize the Berliner predilection for having open sexual intercourse in clubs with strangers.
The quest for holism as the 21st century ontology in Claflin’s “Moths Around a Flame” establishes the symbol of light in the darkness of the after-postmodern tension between the opposites. (film still copyright of the Brian Tennessee Claflin Foundation).
…whose 3 minute multimedia ontology premiering at the BAFF blends image and words into a transcendent symbol of light.
The mythology of transcendence in a flame: scaling high and low society to no society through Claflin’s auto-epic “falling in love again” with Berlin’s gender-bending idol, Marlene Dietrich (film still copyright of the Brian Tennessee Claflin Foundation).
Travis Jeppesen and Michael Rade (l-r) of the Brian Tennessee Claflin Foundation shepherd the passage of their friend’s multimedia production into the film festival premiere; they explained that “Moth’s Around a Flame” was made to accompany a performance, and this is the first time it is being shown as a stand-alone work. (photo by Daniel Lathwesen for BAFF).
We suddenly realize how rare it is to experience how the piece of a holistic work of art reflects the integrity of its entirety. This BAFF epiphany–that artists surfing the wave into a new paradigm discard the holistic Art-I-Fact as the homo generator phenomenology of their (a)wake(ning)–points to an essential requirement for contemporary art: to flaunt the disciplinary boundaries regulated by the academy. Indeed, even MoMAis acknowledging a newfound readiness to break down the hierarchies of institutional art classification.
The encounter with the unexpected is what we have come to expect from art to move us through the crisis of uncertainty into the Third Space–out of the quantitative linear time and into the qualitative kairos magical interaction between past, present and future.
This provocation is what Ashraf–in his multiple roles as master of ceremonies, interpreter, moderator, organizer, juggler of formats and who knows what else–is bringing to the picture both big and small. He has grouped films of completely different formats and lengths together under topics like “Feminist Frontiers”– which singlehandedly revived Heike Sander’s 4 minute 1967 Subjectivity as a classic quest to break down the boundary between subject/object that Germans understand better than anyone, due to their highly structured rules of grammar.
But this was mere prelude to the late Saturday night explosion when the intimate theater was electrified by the entrance of Susanne Sachße in unobtrusive guerilla garb…
…all the better to shine her inner radiance. The German actress brought a full doze of erotic consciousness to the festival with her simple rational for taking on the challenging but risky role that made her an underground sensation: women, she said, who got to have sex in film had to be crazy and/or have demented relationships with their father. (photo by Bart Sammut).
“The Revolution is my boyfriend!” While creating one of the most enigmatic naked female characters in film, Bruce LaBruce’s 2004 “The Raspberry Reich” ingeniously makes use of the political slogan to weave revolutionary text/image into Wilhelm Reich’s theory of the orgasm, thereby breaking down boundaries between heterosexual/homosexual, as well as art cinema and porn. (film still).
Susan Sachße and Jürgen Brüning had an astonishingly frank discussion with the audience. The star exclaimed how unprepared she was for the reaction, her friends asking “are you going to do porn now?” With a shared gleeful erotic innocence, Brüning revealed his surprise at being sued a million dollars for violating the copyright of Alberto Korda’s famed Che Guevara portrait, which served as wallpaper to a stark correlation between masturbation and gunplay.
The sequential Sunday sessions, “On Architecture” and “Germany Revised,” ordered the archeology of Berlin’s transition into a global (blessedly non-mercantile) art center through the literal gap of the no-man’s land surrounding the Berlin Wall, the Third space, or dead zone between East and West.
Ashraf placed his heart right into the center of his creation by introducing the film catalyzing his move to Berlin: Thomas Arsian’s 1991 student film “On the Margins” (1991) depicting the dead zone in its stark barren landscape as the symbol of Berlin’s uncertain future (LPS photo).
Subsequently, the director’s uncanny organizational skills elevated Hito Steyeri’s The Empty Center into a classic of cultural deconstruction. The 1998 documentary excavated the archeology surrounding the battle between immigrant labor and the German unions during the corporate reconstruction of Potsdammer Platz. The outcome of this courageous discursive plunge through the Derridian gap of Berlin’s empty center was an alarming exposé of a repeating German pattern of third world labor exploitation.
The twin pillar to this pioneering BAFF signaling around the centre was “Post Migration: Filming Immigrants and Refugees.” This Saturday afternoon section gave voice and vision to the outsider struggling for dignity and space in a city that is newly redefining itself through the hard work of reconciliation/integration.
If the festival itself was a paradigm leap into qualitative time, where a 3 minute projection carries the ontological heft of a new gender-free epoch–other films made explicit by design that to be authentically cutting edge means being “in the moment.” The most innovative example was Safe Space, when the dialogue leapt, like the renegade electron, right off the onscreen during the roll of credits to ignite the participation of the audience…
Zora Rux with her actors discussing Safe Space/Geschuetzter Raum, a fictional film that brilliantly captures, in an economical 15 minutes, the Third as the safe space to create new thought structures via a cultural clash instigated by a rape in a Berlin immigration camp.
… “We are the new generation,” proclaimed Rux, a 27-year old student from the Deutsche Film-und Fernsehakademie Berlin (dffb) whose breakout short film has been presented in nearly a hundred festivals.
The discussion spilled over into Sunday panel: “Imagining: Refugees and Migrants on film.”
Denize Sertkol, German naturalized daughter of Turkish immigrants, talks about her “outsider” motivation for “KIss Me, Germany,” one of her two art installation videos in “Germany, Revised.” The afternoon theater screening opened up a dialogue about scale in presentation between the gallery and cinema (LPS photo).
In the intimate cafe setting, a new consciousness broke through by means of the metaphysics–the Butterfly Effect and the Uncertainty Principle— that migrant filmmaking brings to the big picture.
“Syrians have to live in Uncertainty,” says Syrian refugee filmmaker Khaled Mzher (right) with the star, Ahmad Faraj, of his deeply moving and timely “WADA,” crystallizing the “Butterfly Effect” of their nation’s crisis from an interior focus. Khaled’s dffb student film was already selected as a standout in the San Sebastian Film Festival and is headed to Cannes in 2016. (LPS photo)
New paradigms require new languages. It was all too clear that the foundation for this (R)evolution has been laid by the Berlin Art Film Festival N2.
I, for one, can’t wait to see how the (R)evolution evolves in 2016.
The Brian Tennessee Claflin memorial at the BFF was created in conjunction with the Brian Tennessee Claflin Foundation and the SomoS exhibition of a newly discovered five-channel installation “The Five Senses”” in the late artist’s estate.
All images by LPS, or as credited, courtesy of the Berlin Art Film Festival. The stills from “Moths Around a Flame” courtesy of the Brian Tennesse Claflin Foundation. “Raspberry Reich” film stills courtesy of the Jürgen Brüning Filmproduktion. Movimiento Kino exterior photo courtesy of the owner, Iris.
Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a cultural critic and theorist based in Berlin, whose two decade dissemination of her art theory of the hieros gamos from the grassroots to the avant-garde entailed her forging a pathway between cinema and gallery. Her review of Brian Tennessee Claflin’s art appeared here: The Five Senses
With their first production at Daniel Brunet’s new 3.0 vision at the English Theater in Berlin, A Fish Needs a Bicycle expands the boundaries of theater by introducing a third character of uncertainty: Twitter. The chilling real time window into the hate generated lower vibration cyberspace projected into the spare set just hints at the intervention this male-female team pulled off while trolling the undercurrent of cyber misogyny masquerading as “Meninists” seeking male rights.
Gem Andrews and Richard Gibb penetrated into this dark virtual world to create the English lower-class character of Mike, who has ambitions to win a contest for a one-way ticket to Mars offered by an authentic website, Mars One. The five chapters of his real-time video application comprising this theater piece hover between the comic and tragic as Mike’s real life interferes, revealing sexual fears and hatred of his mother, for whom he is the caretaker. Gibb’s fearless plunge into the inertia of male ego is, gratefully, balanced by the transporting appeal of Andrews’ original songs.
Richard Gibb and Gem Andrews led an engaging discussion after their show illuminating their archeology of the chilling Menisita Twitter feeds that became the Third entity for the Conversion of their piece.
The overall effect is more powerful than apparent on the surface, not only because Mike derides the feminine quality of number when his narrative structure, the five, is associated with Venus. This, along with the duo’s name, which overturns the seventies feminist phrase “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle,” reveals the subtle artistry guiding this innovative Brit “made in Berlin” collaboration that, paradoxically, evens the score.
Since launching this blog in conjunction with the November 2014 publication of Hermeneutics of New Modernism, my first view into painterly forms of a new modernism was an erotic immersion…
Igor Pryzbylski’s “Maximum Speed” (Hochstgeschwindigkeit) creates 21st century icons of quantum entanglement out of 20th century found objects of high speed connections.
Przybylski transmits Web 3.0 into neo-modernist forms transmitted from the found object onto the in-between geometric potential of the flat surface so glorified by that 20th century critic Clement Greenberg..
The encrypted message of speed in the red dot in a 3 sequence contained in the quaternity of crystalization.
The setting was ideal, a gallery in the andel’s Hotel Berlin, with a typically East Berlin view…
The unificiation of number in quantity and quality: in figuration (40 + 20 = 60 = 6) and symbol (the 6 wheels of the representing the unity of the paradigm leap from one-sided left brain linear world view into holistic marriage of right/left brain into the cyclical)
Since, experiencing these uber modern images, which tranform the vintage into icons of speed, I have been having dreams of high speed transport as an open door to the manifestation of the quantum leap in my writing…
I just applied for a new job reporting on international finance…which was strange considering the job is on the U.S. East Coast and I am in Berlin. It is good to get visual reminders of geography as identity…
…offering to do for global finance reporting what I did for a global art movement, the quantum leap into Web 3.0.
I find this image of electrical connection so incredibly erotic! Reinforcing my feeling is the ontology of number, five rempresenting the feminine number of change entangling the binary object(ives) into the invisible third: speed!
…There is magic in the neo-modernist Badiouian “number is ontology” language this Polish artist created as a result of his “entanglement” with international critics at the 2013 AICA Congress in Slovakia…
Under high speed conditions, steering is key..
Particularly when the wheel is divided into three equal parts, and again the three enters the picture as the number of cirlces surrounding the central sphere, which is grey, representing the in-between realm of the Third, a new science of “entanglement”.
So, we will see how this magical connection between inner & outer goes…
Taurus, the astrological sign of the Bull, means wealth. The name combines with the unity of number, a new story told in a novel way: the figurative 3 with the 3 sided triangle x 2 = the 6 unity of the Lovers/hieros games.
Here is the “Maximum Speed” exhibition statement by Igor Przybylski, a native of Warsaw and graduate of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts:
On September 2nd, 2006, the Taurus locomotive of the EuroSprinter family set a new world record for conventional electric locomotives. No. 1216-050 locomotive with a capacity of 6000 kW owned by Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB reached a top speed of 357 km/h near Ingolstadt. 10 locomotives of the series are currently used in Poland by PKP Intercity. The Maximum speed / Höchstgeschwindigkeit exhibition is the result of an analysis of the record-breaking Taurus series’ design, as well as their predecessors, the DB 103 series, which in 1985 broke the world record on German rails, reaching the speed of 283 km/h.
Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a critic for Huffington Post Arts and author of the Hermeneutics of New Modernism based in Berlin.
All images of Igor Przybylski’s “High Speed” are copyright Lisa Paul Streitfeld.
The dice are thrown against the sky, with all the force of displacement of the alienator point, with their imperative points like lightning, forming ideal problem-constellations in the sky. They fall back to Earth with all the force of the victorious solutions which bring back the throw.––Deleuze (D&R: 284)
There is an authentic irony to the topography of the European Graduate School (EGS) in the Swiss Alps overlooking the idyllic car-free village of Saas-Fee. The laboratory was established in 1998 to incubate Dr. Wolfgang Schirmacher’s pioneering field of Media Philosophy; that the director lured Jacques Derrida, the founder of the French deconstructionist to the mountain to lecture to a handful of early students is Saas-Fee legend, as is the death Theodor Adorno, founder of the Frankfurt School, in Visp, the disembarkation point for the contemporary philosopher’s alpine trek into a new constellation.
The stars did come out for the occasion: Slavoj Žižek (Slovenia); Giorgio Agamben (Italy); and Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Rancière, Alain Badiou and Jean Baudrillard (France). And there too arrived the protégées of the European masters: Jacques Derrida (Avital Ronell, Christopher Fynsk, Geoffrey Bennington and Laurence Rickels) along with his son, Pierre Alféri; Jacques Lacan (Anne Dufourmantelle); and Michel Foucault’s last assistant (Thomas Zummer).
There was also space made for radical breakthrough: the American gender theorist Judith Butler and the Israeli artist/psychoanalyst/theorist Bracha L. Ettinger, whose M/Other Matrix theory inspired the popular film franchise, and more importantly, delivered the exiled feminine into the western philosophical tradition. There were innovators in the creative disciplines such as film (Peter Greenaway, Mike Figgis and Robert Bramkamp), literature (Judith Balso, Chris Kraus,Hélène Cixous and Jeffrey Eugenides) and visual art (Alessandro De Francesco).
Saas-Fee is the laboratory that birthed the media phenomenon known as Slavoj Žižek, a founding EGS professor whose comeraderie with Alain Badiou was the launching pad for the Slovenian philosopher’s revival of German idealism, thereby bringing continental philosophy into mainstream global discourse.
Yet, the authentic irony immediately distinguishing Saas-Free from the contrived irony of postmodernism in its death throes was not in the wide range of personalities gathering there, but the topography itself. Any short trek through the Swiss Alps will confront the wanderer with mystical symbols and signs embodied into the mountainous landscape; the gnome faces and witches leering out from their carved homes in rough hewn fences or trees are continual reminders of what has been left out of German idealism: the primordial energy. This occult shadow was so huge that it gave birth to the dark forces of the Holocaust personified through Hitler’s Hindu priestess and thirteen astrologers.