in cooperation with the DFG-research project "History of the Documentary film in Germany (1945-2005)"
The 1960s were a time in which fundamental changes were happening in documentary filmmaking. The introduction of uncomplicated syncronous sound recordings using 16mm cameras and portable tape recorders had an immediate influence on filmmaking styles, methods, and topics. These upheavals are strongly reflected in Klaus Wildenhahns EIN FILM FÜR BOSSACK UND LEACOCK (1983/84). With mobile hand-held cameras, it was now possible to integrate and involve the cinematic audience in the current situation. New lighter weight cameras, using a variety of video formats, offered the opportunity for longer continuous recordings, but also introduced new difficulties in editing.
Coincidently, these technical innovations arrived during a time of social upheaval. Students were demonstrating in Paris, Berlin and around the world against the established, archaic structures of society. Protest movements focusing on disarmament, anti-nuclear and environmental issues gained strength through word of mouth and specialized media. Simultaneously, an increasing resistance to large-scale technical projects was developing. Since mainstream media often either ignored these protest movements or created opposition to them through slurs and stereotypes, various forms of alternative publication sprang up – including newspaper projects, pirate radio stations, video collectives or progressive media centers.
cinefest 2014 explores this topic in an international context and offers a look at how current films are still utilizing these stylistic innovations. In a time of globalization, financial crisis and doubts about the viability of a capitalist economic system, alternatives are being sought. The internet, social networks and technological innovations encourage and are enabling a new type of counter-public to take shape.
Classics such as Peter Krieg’s SEPTEMBERWEIZEN (1980) and DER KANDIDAT (1979/80, Stefan Aust, Volker Schlöndorff, Alexander Kluge and Alexander Von Eschwege) which explores the career of scandal prone politician Franz Josef Strauß contrast interestingly with more recent productions such as WORKINGMAN'S DEATH (2002-05) by Michael Glawogger. S'WESCHPE-NÄSCHT (1982 Medienwerkstatt Freiburg) which use amateur footage to chronicle a year-long struggle against a nuclear power plant while ZÜRI BRÄNNT (CH 1980/81) brings the Youth Movement in the Swiss financial capital to a near cult status. A powerful protest against the dumping of atomic waste at Gorleben led to the creation of the Wendländische Filmkooperative (GORLEBEN, DER TRAUM VON EINER SACHE, 1980/81). In Hamburg, a filmmakers' collective "die thede" shot numerous video productions in a movement which has continued to develop both technologically and stylistically over the last few decades.
In the GDR, to some degree, the protest movement appeared within state-controlled media. DEFA documentaries began featuring individuals and their personal desires as the focal point of some of their films. Young workers resentment of the situation in their workplace is beautifully illustrated by Volker Koepp in his series of films. The mood and culture of the last days of the GDR have been captured by film students in LEIPZIG IM HERBST (1989).
Also important was a new critical look at working environments, as in the classic ROTE FAHNEN SIEHT MAN BESSER (1971, Theo Gallehr and Rolf Schübel) or Hartmut Bitomsky’s DER VW-COMPLEX (1989).
The program is supplemented with international examples from Czechoslovakia and the UK such as UPPER CLYDE SHIPBUILDERS (1971).
At a special event screening, together with film historian and Oscar winner Kevin Brownlow, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the premiere of his film IT HAPPENED HERE (1956-1964), a fictional documentary of the German conquest of Britain.
Documentary film is currently experiencing another change with the increasing availability and ease of use for mobile phone and digital video. cinefest and the International Film History Conference will also delve into these latest developments.