Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Berlin on Film

comrad couture
Comrade Couture
To coincide with the Berlin Dayz cultural festival and the twentieth anniversary of the reunification of Germany, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) presents a program of films devoted to the country's capital in Berlin on Film this November.

Berlin has a unique rhythm which infuses its architecture, its culture and its citizens. This filmic celebration of the historical city brings together six documentaries; from the challenges of a country divided, to the process of reunification and the infinite possibilities of a Berlin without borders.

ACMI Film Programmer Kristy Matheson, with the assistance of the Goethe-Institut, has composed a program which reminds us of the challenges Berliners overcame and the sense of euphoria of reunification. "With a remarkable and catastrophic history, Berlin has played many roles throughout the 20th century, emerging in the new millennium as one of the world's most fascinating and enduring cities," she said.

The program opens with Rhythm Is It (2004), directed by Thomas Grube and Enrique Sánchez Lansch, which intertwines music and contemporary dance in an ambitious project by Conductor Sir Simon Rattle, the Berlin Philharmonic, choreographer Royston Maldoom and 250 young Berliners from disparate ages and backgrounds. Their performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring is a joyous and inspired tale of triumph over adversity. The screening precedes the Berlin Philharmonic's visit to Australia this November.

Former East German model turned director Marco Wilms presents an exciting portrait of youth in revolt and subversive creativity in East Berlin in Comrade Couture (2009). Inspired by new wave and punk fashions from the West, East Berliners took to crafting their own fashions - turning their limited materials to an advantage and parading avant-garde creations made from plastic, bed sheets and disused medical supplies. As one of East Germany's most daring stylists, Frank Schäfer, puts it in the film; "A tiger in a cage is much wilder than a tiger that is free to roam." Drawing on personal memories, interviews and extensive archival research, Wilms offers a unique view of this heady artistic outpouring under ever watchful Stasi eyes.

Wilms' earlier Berlin Vortex (2003) taps into the wave of euphoria among youth in the Eastern block prompted by the reunification of Germany in 1989. With the wall down and capitalism still at bay, young Berliners occupied empty residences and began preparing for their futures bringing change through art and social programs. Featuring celebrated choreographer Sasha Waltz, Jochen Sandig, Christian Lorenz of 'Rammstein' fame, social workers and still struggling artists, Wilms' discovery of what became of five citizens and their utopian dreams for the new Berlin is as fascinating and diverse as the city itself. 

The director of Comrade Couture and Berlin Vortex, Wilms will be in Melbourne for the season.

Scored by Einstürzende Neubauten and featuring internationally acclaimed architects, Rem Koolhaas, Renzo Piano and I.M. Pei, Berlin Babylon (2001) offers a rare glimpse into an international city, under construction. In a post-wall era, Berlin found itself as a metropolis in great need of physical change to fully realise the promise of reunification and to repair the destruction the 20th century had wreaked upon it. With its astonishing aerial photography and subtle verite style, Hubertus Siegert's film has a dreamlike quality that allows the viewer to float above and wander through of one of the world's great cities as it transitions into the future.

A heartfelt declaration of love to a city and its people, In Berlin (2009) traces the changes that have taken place in the twenty years since the demolition of the Berlin Wall. Featuring a vast array of Berliners including, actor Angela Winkler, Alex Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten, architects, fashion designers, performers and store owners, long term Scorsese cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and co-director Ciro Cappellari have crafted a visually stunning and engaging portrait of one of the world's most lively and creative hubs.

In Berlin, Rhythm Is It, Berlin Babylon and special guest director Wilms' films Comrade Couture and Berlin Vortex, will all be introduced by Berlin-based film critic and radio journalist, Carsten Beyer.

The bustling streets of 1920's Berlin are writ-large in the entrancing Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt) (1927). Like other famous 'city films' such as Man With the Movie Camera, director Walter Ruttmann's portrait of Berlin is a dynamic mix of man and machine, social norms and daily life, a captivating vision of Berlin between the wars. This black and white silent treasure will enjoy a free screening on the big screen in Melbourne's Federation Square. 

Berlin on Film is programmed as part of Berlin Dayz, the German-Australian Festival coordinated by the Goethe-Insitut in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Germany's reunification. Berlin Dayz events will be held across Australia throughout October and November to coincide with the official Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) on 3 October, this year being hosted by Bremen in the country's North West. Operating from its Melbourne base, Berlin Dayz events are designed as a dialogue between two cultural capitals: Berlin and Melbourne. 

Berlin on Film will screen at ACMI from Thursday 4 to Monday 8 November, 2010.


Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
[email] claire.butler@acmi.net.au  
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