Amusement Park of Glowing Dreams
Filmmaker and Directors Lounge fixture Klaus W. Eisenlohr took the gathering on hand at Z-Bar’s screening space (22.03.12) on a rollercoaster ride to and through the Atomic Age’s forbidden zones with his curated program “Pripyat – The Uncanny of Modernity”. Not only Pripyat, Chernobyl’s ghost-ridden neighbouring city, but also other nuclear oddities were shown in light of a global fascination whose half-life is not yet known. This aesthetic preoccupation and its uneasy place in the nuclear discussion were at the heart of the selection, rather than any purely documentary vehicles or didactic essays. Several films in the 90-minute set were little more (but nothing less) than hazy imagery, as in the opener, Anders Weberg’s Peaceful Atom (SE), a multi-planed soup of impressionistic smears revealing forms and sounds. Nicky Larkin’s Pripyat (IE) followed, with static shots accompanied by howling winds and the incessant buzzing of flies. The deserted city emerges as a modern-day Angkor Wat, with radiation as the unseen jungle. Black figures painted on walls hark back to Pompeii’s ashen corpses, victims of a similarly sudden fate. Finally, Lenin’s face emerges, as lifeless and frozen in time as the scene he presides over. Immaterial Meshup (Sarah Breen Lovett, AU) opens on a television and takes us swiftly to futuristic cityscapes of Metropolis and Blade Runner, uniformly black and white and swathed in aphorisms. Other standouts included Gair Dunlop’s Atom Town: Life After Technology (UK), running newsreel propaganda footage on the Dounreay facility in split screen next to mostly colour updates of the same scenes, silent sentries to a then unknown future (its sentimentally greeted disengagement), wordlessly speaking louder than the narrator’s voice from the screen’s other half. Vanessa Renwick’s Portrait #2: Trojan (US) puts an atomic silo before intensified sunset views resembling Group of Seven stylization, then lets us witness the controlled demolition of the ominous tower. Eisenlohr’s own Phantasma Pripyat (DE) wove cascading found footage between flutter-by landscapes and computer games into a look at Elena Filatova’s counterfeit motorcycle tour in the forbidden zone around Chernobyl. Ribbon text website comments chase snippets of facts and each other so that the viewer is swimming in a sea of truths, half-truths and outright lies or flights of fancy that well represent the muddle of (mis)information that characterized the event. A discussion followed the films, with varying views on the attraction to voyeurism and its legitimacy. Eisenlohr’s Urban Research presentations run with monthly regularity, offering windows to the grand scheme of things cosmopolitan. In addition, they provide thematic pillars in the annual Berlin International Directors Lounge, back for its ninth incarnation in February 2013. Kenton Turk
pictured: Phantasma Pripyat by Klaus W.Eisenlohr
DAY 6,Feb. 14
FROM UNDERWEAR TO OVERKILL, OR B-CUP TO B-GRADE
Dessous take front and centre stage at 18:00 (6pm) at the 8th Berlin International Directors Lounge, a.k.a. [DL8] tonight, with the so-named program of short “Bra-Fitting” (World Premiere) and feature “Buy Me!” bringing a girl’s boldest obsession together with the world’s oldest profession. Then at 20:00 (8pm) we switch from street-walkers to street walking, literally, courtesy of Ivan Garcia (ES), whose “The Hard Art Of Strolling” takes us sauntering through Shanghai, Paris, the USSR, Japan and Barcelona at key junctures in their histories. A rare sort of documentary, 48 minutes of wayward wandering, in its German Premiere. And still more comes when the DL Selection V rolls through ten little gems, with Stephan Kaempf on hand with his 5-minute “Chaos”, plus one World and four German Premieres and more. (Almost) finally, at 23:00 (11pm), don’t miss guest curator Shaun Wilson’s “Creatures Of The Night” horror shorts special – films so bad (in taste, acting, technical quality, just about everything) they’re good, and deliciously so. All capped off with live music at midnight from the really good Susanna Berivan, a young singer/songwriter/guitarist whose repertoire defies categorization, spanning dirty country to Lady-Day-jazz to personal punk, stopping at all stations between with a voice of myriad shades. Wow. Another night with a bang at Naherholung Sternchen (behind Kino International).
pictured: Susanna Berivan by Jon Clay
Feb. 14, the program
find us here
DAY 5, Feb 13th
SUDDENLY: IT CAME FROM HERE AND BEYOND
Fans of the sudden will like short films coming at them “Out Of The Blue” at [DL8] (the 8th Berlin International Directors Lounge), as curated and presented by Deborah S. Phillips, and including five World Premieres. Film titles like “PFFFHP TT!” can make you wonder just what you’ll be seeing. It all jumps at you starting at 18:00 (6pm). Then DL’s own Klaus W. Eisenlohr treats us to a program of Urban Observations and Local Studies at 20:00 (8pm), chock full of metropolitan moments. Look for Klaus there too, recognizable in his trademark fedora. Then still more follows, with the DL Selection IV at 22:00, getting underway with “Silhouette” by Astrid Busch (in attendance), and weaving its way through shorts from Finland, Ireland, Hungary, Italy, France and the U.S, with a couple of World Premieres in the mix. One film in this block is entitled “The Last Picture”, but we certainly promise you more. In Naherholung Sternchen (near Alexanderplatz at U-Schillingstr., second building behind Kino International)
pictured: 10 Moments by Wenhua Shi (Urban Research)
DAY 4, Feb 12th
CREATURES OF TONIGHT: A CANARY, A ZEBRA AND PARASITES
There was a time when Sundays were considered, well, less than Saturday, but not in Berlin, and certainly not at [DL8] (a.k.a. the 8th Berlin International Directors Lounge Film Festival) tonight, with “My Sweet Canary” by Roy Sher taking us on a roller coaster romp of a ride through the life of 1930’s chanteuse extraordinaire Roza Eskenazi, the “Diva of Rebetiko”, who inspired male mania and more in Greece and Turkey of the day. Don’t miss it, at 18:00, or the Zebra Poetry Film Festival selection at 20:00, with Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel on hand to present the proceedings. Hear with your eyes and see with your ears…. Then comes “Parasiten der Ohnmacht” (“Parasites of Powerlessness” or “Parasites of Swoon”, depending on how you want to take it) at 22:00, with actor Birol Ünel reading bizarre and nightmarish short stories from the book of the same name by Miron Zownir. Also available as audio book set to music by F.M. Einheit of Einstürzende Neubauten. But live is live!
pictured: Halbdichtheiten by Ralph Kühne as part of the ZEBRA POETRY FILM FESTIVAL, selected by Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel
DAY 3, Feb. 11th
IN THE SWIM OF THINGS, AND MORE, DL-STYLE
Tonight’s brand [DL8] round-up includes special guest Simon Ellis (GB), a young filmmaker who has garnered a lot of attention since walking off with the Sundance International Jury Prize and the British Independent Film Award and 35 others for his unsettling and thought-provoking short “Soft”, which will be in the program along with a cross-section of his widely varying celluloid offerings. It’s all rounded up under the title “Swimming in Pictures and Sound”, and expect to do just that… and chat with Mr. Ellis himself. The rest of the evening is no slouch, either: DL Selection III has H.D. Motyl (US) in attendance, presenting “Nudes Descending a Staircase, #2” in Europe for the first time, as well as Alexandra Staples (GB) with “Static Cardiac Rhythms”, two of sixteen (!) premieres tonight. Lorenzo Karasz (AT) will be there in person with his and Florian Kogler’s “Fassadendialog” and George Groshkov (BG) with “Breakfast: Always on time”, too. The evening begins with a surprise program at 18:00 (6:00 p.m.) and Ost West Achse (pt II) providing Balkan Bond Blues” as live diversion starting at midnight. At Naherholung Sternchen, behind Kino International. If that doesn’t sound like something….!
DAY 2, Feb 10
DOORS WIDE OPEN TO MEDIA, MATRYOSHKA MUSCLE AND MEOWS
A Glimpse into tonights screenings
Ophir Ben Shimon IL A Man Asleep 15 min 40 s 2011
An overwhelmed groom is making casual last arrangements in preparation for his expected wedding in the evening. Distracted and disturbed, his car hits a child crossing the highway. His search for a way out raises crucial questions regarding his social belonging.
If you want to know how a tango can be bitter or what happens when you follow your skin, make your way to [DL8] tonight, and find out… the Berlin International Directors Lounge Film Festival (in its eighth year) brings you such enigmatic subjects from a global crew of filmmakers. All in short films (from two to fifteen minutes), among them seven German, two European and six World Premieres… when were you last able to say you’d attended fifteen premieres in one night? “Irma” (Charles Fairbanks, US/MX) will provide an intriguing look at the former women’s pro wrestling world champion in what IndieLisboa’s Carlos Ramos describes as “a portrait built like a Russian matryoshka: surprise after surprise, revelation after revelation.” Maurizio von Trapp (GB) will be in attendance, world-premiering “Miss Mia Meows”, as native talent Claudia Guilino will be doing with thoughtful Buddhas in “Stony Sleep”. “Media In Motion” gets us going at 18:00, then two blocks of DL selection shorts get underway at 20:00, bringing Israel within reach of Italy and India next to Ireland, with much more thrown in… not a night you’ll want to miss. Screenings within spitting distance of the bar. Of course, at Naherholung Sternchen, behind Kino International.
The Wonders of the World stopped at seven; DL is going one better at eight. [DL8], the 8th Berlin International Directors Lounge Experimental Film Festival, is hitting Berlin in a new vein and venue, this year making the up-and-comer insider tip Naherholung Sternchen its stomping ground.
The reason for the move will be clear to all once they hit the doors, literally a stone’s throw from the iconic Kino International near Alexanderplatz: the location, a one-time thespians’ hangout already steeped in its own history, has clearly been waiting for this moment. This place wants to be, and [DL8] is the ticket make it happen.
There will be people you know and wish you did, performers, filmmakers and films, films, films, make no mistake – what you haven’t seen, what you don’t get to see, films not normed for consumption by the broad masses, but films of this length and that, free of clichés and predictable endings, free of everything you don’t need to see yet again.
How can we make it work? Bucketloads of dedication.
How can you miss it? There’s the question with only one answer. You can’t. Don’t. 1001 nights at the cinema, all in eleven days, films like you forgot or maybe never knew they could be made, films that will change the colour of your eyes and thoughts… on-beat, offbeat and everything between.
Conveniently run parallel to that other media extravaganza down at Marlene-Dietrich-Platz, but free of red carpets and frozen celebs. Photo-ops only if and when you make them.
If you don’t come on your own, we’re going to come and get you.
still from Glorious, 2009 by Guy Maddin
THIRTY FRAMES A SECOND, TWO HUNDRED MILES AN HOUR
DIRECTORS LOUNGE’S GUY MADDIN SHORTS HEADING FOR ESSEN
No longer an upstart after seven consecutive years and scads of films of every conceivable genre, the Berlin International Directors Lounge (DL to the initiated) is still free of formula, corralling batches of like-minded works into presentable groupings but not bowing to predictability. No one knows quite what they are going to see here. That viewers can move freely about, mounting stairs and draping themselves over balcony railings to take in what’s splashed onto the screen may add to the slightly helter-skelter atmosphere. Question-and-answer sessions with selected directors and performers can prove as offbeat as some of the offerings, and left field live performances take it over the top. For free. There is nothing else like this in Berlin, one of the hardest claims you can make in this city. DL, while still arriving, has arrived. Renowned artists such as Michael Nyman have chosen to reveal their newest visions here, and films are being sent for consideration by the hundreds from all over the globe, with their creators and stars often enough making the trip to see how it looks up there, larger than life. Add to that fast-appearing online reviews of films and audience reaction, and you’ve got the makings of a cult carnival waiting to be reborn on a yearly basis, like a child who enjoyed the process enough to want to give it yet another go.
It had to happen that Berlin’s DL and Winnipeg’s enfant bizarre Guy Maddin would come together, and this year marked the time, when the Berlinale jury member brought a handful of his short features to form the backbone of an evening dedicated to his peculiar view of things, as seen through the (filmic) eyes of the influenced, heard via live readings from his enigmatic book From The Atelier Tovar and not least declared by way of the master’s aforementioned shorts themselves. A bit of everything was there. The giddy tomfoolery of Nude Caboose, the frenetic, fetishistic mock-punishment of Sissy Boy Slap Party, the industrial expressionism of The Heart Of The World. The house was full and imagination running at full tilt.
Directors Lounge is, with Mr. Maddin’s blessing, showing these tasty celluloid morsels at C.A.R. in Essen, offering up a peak into many little worlds portrayed in a myriad of ways: playful, distressing, subtle, haunting, head-on. Maddin comes to DL comes to you, and you only need eyes and ears to make it work.
– Kenton Turk
still from Odilon Redon or The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Infinity, 1995 by Guy Maddin
Beyond The Atelier Tovard , the collection of shorts by Guy Maddin, will be accompanied by works that are influenced by him, dedicated to him, or otherwise Under The Influence Of The Atelier Maddin.
C.A.R. details here
BEYOND THE ATELIER TOVAR
A screening with Guy Maddin’s own personal selection of his short films, complemented by readings of the filmmaker’s book From The Atelier Tovar* by Kenton Turk.
* available at coach house books
photo by Michael Evgi