Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen


From the Deep: The Great Experiment 1898-1918

This programme invites audiences to discover and experience early cinema as a forgotten but very topical production and presentation practice and a real alternative to today's cinema and museum. Out of the depths of the days before 1918, a wild short film continent is pulled up to the surface of the present day. Early cinema developed participatory and hybrid forms of presentation that seem eerily modern. With no access restrictions at all in its first years, cinema up to 1910 was a public space shared by all age groups and classes, and created the first worldwide web: for the first time in history, people in far-flung regions of the world were able to watch identical shows.


The individual programmes illustrate the versatility of these experiments, which run the gamut from applied colour processes that may involve pure experimentation with coloured light or the illuminated fountains at Versailles, to the discovery of the possibilities of space and movement, all the way to the eager dismantling of authority in the countless films featuring rebellious servants or bad girls and boys who go unpunished. Tribute is paid to both the innovation productions by the era's world-market leader, Pathé-frères, as well as to works by its rivals Gaumont, Lux and Star-Film, or the Italian competition with its comic series like "Cretinetti".


In From the Deep, Oberhausen continues its exploration of an imaginary cinema museum where the museum concept itself is reinvented by cinema. The festival situation enables a contemporary programming of these films, whose presentation in their day resembled a form of exhibition art open to one and all. In this encounter with early cinema, audiences will discover new aspects of the medium of film that have very little to do with our ordinary cinematic experience.


The curators

Mariann Lewinsky wrote her doctorate on the Japanese avant-garde and has been director of the project "A Hundred Years Ago" in Bologna since 2004. She curates festivals and exhibitions, restores films (by Ella Maillart and others) and teaches (University of Zurich).


Eric de Kuyper is an experimental film director and writer. He created art performances of early films within inspiring environments (Imaginaires en contexte) and in combination with works of music.

Contact: Kristina Henschel



We would like to thank all archives that have made their copies available to be screened in this programme. Moreover, we would also like to thank everyone involved for their commitment and help. Without their support we wouldn't have been able to realise this programme.