Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen

Press
Review

Do we still need cinemas? In Oberhausen, the question remains open. But the way it is reflected and illuminated here shows clearly that this is definitely not an issue the Festival has to worry about. Andreas Rossmann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 8 May 2013

 

Once more Oberhausen's five competitions were proof that the filmmakers themselves are obviously burning to show their works in the cinema. The longest-running short film festival in the world registered 6,700 submissions – even though rules were tightened again. One couldn't ask for a better demonstration of the producers' passion for the big screen. Oliver Baumgarten, Blickpunkt:Film No. 20, 2013

 

The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen has none of the glamour and rigid hierarchy of, say, Cannes; its egalitarian spirit and inclusiveness facilitate exchanges between directors, critics, programmers, professionals, and amateurs alike. Agnieszka Gratza, filmcomment.com, USA, 29 May 2013

 

In two homage programmes to the American underground filmmaker Luther Price's tender and brutal cinematic poems and the German artist Helga Fanderl's gloriously fragile material studies, Super8 and 16mm films were projected (even in double projections). Perhaps it is the art business with its museums, galleries and festivals that will ultimately guarantee the survival of celluloid and its specific sensuality. Hans Schifferle, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 16 May 2013

 

Oberhausen is a festival less interested in the indulgences of its industry. It is a film festival of inclusion. Eight different juries award prizes, and whilst there is a clear celebration of excellence, the festival is anything but elitist. Oberhausen is also known for its experimental content. Within the context of a strong non-narrative cinema presence, still, accessibility persist. Tara Judah, afca.org.au, Australia, June 2013

 

Undoubtedly, a significant portion of film art will survive only in the art business. But precisely because so many filmmakers migrate there, it would be disastrous for Oberhausen to join the movement with flying colours. […] Short film, too, used to be an applied art, but at its best it was also supreme art. The story of the Oberhausen festival since 1954 is the story of this emancipation. Daniel Kothenschulte, Frankfurter Rundschau, 10 May 2013

 

Several directors' portraits, film programmes and discussions explored the issue of whether the present revaluation of film production and distribution processes has anything to do at all with traditional cinematic practice. These were not about taking stock from the cultural pessimist's point of view, but about a productive appropriation of what is happening everywhere and every day anyway. Claus Loeser, Der Tagesspiegel, 10 May 2013

 

If the Luther Price and Croatian programs reflected a couple of Oberhausen's traditional strengths – its dedication to presenting truly iconoclastic, radical cinema, and its longstanding commitment to highlighting films from regions whose cinematic output is generally neglected in the West […] – the Archives section demonstrated the festival's willingness to expand its format and embrace new ways of celebrating the short film. Jed Rapfogel, cineaste.com, USA, September 2013

 

If one were looking for a specifically post-cinematic aesthetics, the events and aggregations sketched here would also have to be considered, since they provide the kind of atmosphere and tension that have grown rare in conventional narrative films but are part of the potential of cinema. Seen in this light, the Oberhausen festival was not so much a preview of the future of cinema as an enactment of its post-cinematic present age. Manfred Hermes, Junge Welt, 11/12 May 2013

 

By posing this question, Oberhausen once more confirmed its role as one of the most innovative film festivals in the world, one that raises important aesthetical issues before others. Reinhard Kleber, Filmecho/Filmwoche No. 19, 11 May 2013

 

Perhaps it is the longing for more depth and profundity in culture, politics and social life that emerges in many of the contributions, but also in the festival programmes as such. In any case, with its 450 films and host of discussion events, Oberhausen offers the visitor just that: space for reflection. Oliver Baumgarten, Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, 7 May 2013

 

But even though the immigration of film into the web cannot be denied, the overall composition of the programme as a whole, mixing old and new, film and discussion, imagination and reality, copy and original, was a plea for cinemas and film festivals alike as the places that offer a still unique group experience. Jennifer Borrmann, kino-zeit.de, 9 May 2013

 

Consequently, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival endures, and enjoys a lasting relevance, as a collection of bodies in space; of interactions and chance encounters, not transactions; its very time-in-spaceness, too, is a refutation of the always-on and unfinishable. It maintains a structure that allows for the existence of the aleatory and indefinite […]. Adam Pugh, Art Monthly, Great Britain, June 2013

 

It's true that the very diverse works revealed aesthetic developments in post Web 2.0 experimental film and video, but whether they made "the flattening of time comprehensible", as Shama Khanna intended, and let the audience feel "that they are anything but flat" remains doubtful. Nonetheless, there were some productions that stood out from the mass of works that were sometimes unwieldy in form and content and inaccessible without an education in (experimental) film, and left their mark. Gabrielle Schultz, mediabiz.at, May 2013

 

Critically, there were some distinct positions at work in the Flatness screenings. One strand offered an accelerationist, hyperbolic ventriloquising of digital culture, pushing it to the point of implosion (most obviously in Ed Atkins's work); the other was far more sober, detached and analogue in its critical dissection. This was fitting for a programme in which feelings of duality, paradox and incommensurability dominated. It was also again curatorially significant. Legitimating these distinctive responses created productive tensions with regard to the depiction of the tectonic shifts created by digital culture and, perhaps more importantly, the development of a sense of agency in response. John Beagles, Sight & Sound, Großbritannien, Juli 2013

 

A programme bearing the pretty title of "Flatness" served […] to supply the discourse foundation to Oberhausen's efforts to deliver descriptions of the current landscape of cinema. However, the exciting idea that one of the consequences of digitization is that people spend time only in front of their screens, to the beat of information, which in turn leads to a flattening of visual concepts in detail and life in general, remained blurred in terms of definition. The term is good, what's doubtful is whether it is really helpful to diagnose symptoms of our age. Matthias Dell, Der Freitag, 8 May 2013

 

What was more, the broad range of the works presented – gallery art, internet activism, performance documents, author's films – gave rise to amazing constellations and points of intersection. Shown in the format of screen projections, though occasionally evoking the contingency of algorithmic search results, the programmes were far from creating a sense of being overpowered. But that is precisely what the curator wanted: to escape the affect production and metaphors of aesthetic expression. Rainer Bellenbaum, springerin, Austria, July 2013

 

What are the effects on the individual who, with a few clicks, transcends time, space and context and is able to reinvent him- or herself constantly? Anything but flat, as the works in the "Flatness" programme "popped up" countless different forms for this, never forgetting that the almighty image medium of the Internet is not just a rival, but also the platform for the short film, which seems to have lost the fight to find its niche in the cinemas. Kathrin Haeger, Filmdienst No. 11, 23 May 2013

 

At the same time the whole show ["Flatness"] was an underhand confirmation of the diagnosis that the power of cinema is unbroken even in the age of digitization. There is no cinema crisis. In the face of digital inflation, the physicality of the two-dimensional cinematic image seemed all the more powerful and corporeal. Instead one witnessed the identity crisis of museum art and its overstrained flounderings faced with the challenge of new media. Ruediger Suchsland, artechock.de, 9 May 2013

 

The main event at this year's festival, however, was, without a doubt, the focus on Price, co-organized with the artist by Light Industry's Ed Halter. Consisting of three programs of Super 8 and 16-mm films, including an ultrarare double projection of his infamous Sodom, plus a midnight "secret" screening of Clown in a concrete bar located in an unused corner of Oberhausen's Bahnhof, Price's films were loud even when silent, eloquent in their bravery and abrasiveness. André Picard, artforum.com, USA, May 2013

 

[Luther Price's] films have neither opening nor final credits; they revolve around death, violence and futility, always underpinned by an almost intangible absoluteness. [….They] emerge as minimalist pieces which are almost painfully present. Claus Loeser, Filmdienst No. 11, 23 May 2013

 

Whatever their tone, however, every single film in these programs [Krelja/Papic/Tadic] demonstrated a seemingly effortless mastery of the short documentary form, a passionate devotion to documenting the breadth and depth of Croatian society (both urban and rural), and a deep concern with the daily lives of the country's citizens. Jed Rapfogel, cineaste.com, USA, September 2013

 

The prolific Fanderl "she's made upward of six hundred films to date" bestowed a beautiful calm upon the festival with her sublime silent miniatures, radiant in both black-and-white and color. André Picard, artforum.com, USA, May 2013

 

It was exciting to see Ho [Tzu Nyen]'s polyphonic reconstructions of history find their counterparts in Laure Prouvost's sprawling, monologic (art) stories in the Oberhausen programmes. Isabella Reicher, Der Standard, Austria, 10 May 2013

 

In its totality, "4 x 4 Episodes of Singapore Art" emerges not only as the interpretive key that helps unlock the rest of Ho's oeuvre, which is noticeably more abstract in design, nor merely as an ambitious attempt to create a kind of dialogic counter-historiography; quite in passing, it establishes a model of how one form of art can be translated into the medium of another (and even into that of a third, the cinema), while generating insights for both sides. Lukas Foerster, Texte zur Kunst, June 2013

 

One of the most amazing and insightful films of the whole festival was screened both in the German and the International Competition: KIRIK BEYAZ LALELER by the German-Turkish Aykan Safoglu is a subtle and hugely enthralling example of Queer Cinema. Hans Schifferle, epd Film, June 2013

 

The visual language of the German clips ranged widely from minimalist animation ("The Exact Colour of Doubt", Liars) to opulent elegance ("We Are on Fire", CocoRosie) and easily bore comparison with international productions. Maxi Braun, trailer-ruhr.de, May 2013