Just as important as the competitions and, since the 1990s, a central and successful part of Oberhausen’s profile is the Theme, a comprehensive programme on annually changing issues.
Synchronize. Pan-African Film Networks
In most parts of the world, cinema is based on networks; that goes for the production and distribution of films as well as for the organisation of festivals, workshops, screenings or other platforms. This is all the more true of African/diasporic cinema, which, since its beginnings in the 1960s, has been a domain where filmmakers have over decades developed innovative infrastructures, formed polycentric pan-African networks, and invented new, flexible working models. What was long considered unstable and incompatible with the market is increasingly turning out to be a pioneering working model when it comes to future strategies of cinema as a whole.
In film programmes and a Podium discussion and with numerous guests, this year’s Theme programme "Synchronize. Pan-African Film Networks" will take a look at these structures and contexts. It takes as its starting points places which temporarily become hubs and magnetic fields in the polycentric pan-African network. This might be the Ouagadougou Pan-African Film and Television Festival (FESPACO) which, ever since its foundation in 1969, has become an indispensable bi-annual meeting point for the film industry of the continent and the diaspora as well as the audiences, where debates, the latest rumours and (film) politics are regularly synchronized. Or it might be the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage, initiated in 1966 and profoundly shaped by the film critic Tahar Cheriaa, who from Tunisia chose not to look towards the north, but systematically to the south. Huge pan-African cultural festivals such as PACF in Algier (1969) or FESTAC in Lagos (1977) each mobilized, condensed and celebrated all creative forces for a few weeks. Their catalysing impact had long-term effects and has become a subject of artistic research today, while these festivals also resonated in Milan, London, Tashkent, Moscow, Toronto, New York and other places, developed their own momentum and opened windows to parallel festival, film and production histories.
The Theme programme "Synchronize. Pan-African Film Networks" will not merely present this history but take it a little step further. With a younger generation of filmmakers from Berlin, London, Paris, Tunis, Yaoundé, Dakar, Nouakchott and Cairo present, Oberhausen will for a few days offer an opportunity to synchronize, learn from each other and extend one’s networks.
Curated by Marie-Hélène Gutberlet, film professor at the HG Offenbach and curator, and Annett Busch, curator and writer (both Women on Aeroplanes, Frankfurt/Main & Trondheim), in collaboration with DOX BOX Berlin. The programme is supported by funds from the Artists’ Contacts programme of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, ifa, Stuttgart.
Solidarity As Disruption – Epilogue
The Theme programme "Solidarity as Disruption" has gone through a number of transformations in the course of past three years, from the initial project, conceived for the cinema in 2020 and postponed, then reshaped for the 2021 online festival edition, to the return to the cinemas in 2022 with an "Epilogue" consisting of screenings and discursive formats.
Curated by Branka Benčić and Aleksandra Sekulić, this epilogue will revisit the potentiality of (political) emancipation, poetry, social imagination, liberation, translation, struggles of decolonialization, gestures and lessons of (un)learning through the destabilization of the petrified frameworks of the dominant systems of society, power structures, art or institutions, with works by Vlado Kristl, Dušan Makavejev, Zoran Popović, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Cecilia Vicuna, Katarina Zdjelar and others.
The programme also acts as a loose conclusion and homage to the cinema and films that found their home in Oberhausen over the past 68 years, reflecting lessons and messages embedded in a social form transposed into digital space for the (past?) two pandemic years.
Branka Benčić is a curator and art historian, director of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka, Croatia. She has curated exhibitions and screenings in Croatia and internationally. She served as co-founder and artistic director at Apoteka Space for Contemporary Art; the Cinemaniac Think Film programme at the Pula Film Festival, and curated the Artists’ Cinema series at the Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb. She curated the Croatian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017). Recently she has co-curated the video retrospective “Make Up Make Down” by Sanja Iveković at MMSU / MoMCA, Rijeka (2021-2022).
Aleksandra Sekulić is a philologist of general literature and theory of literature, the programme curator at the Center for Cultural Decontamination (CZKD) in Belgrade and editor at Beton magazine for culture and politics. In the 2000s, she was programme curator and film producer at the Academic Film Center in Belgrade and a member of the Low-Fi Video movement, the Media Archaeology project and the Kosmoplovci collective in Belgrade.
Together and individually they have curated exhibitions and discussions and published essays on the heritage of experimental cinema, early video production and films clubs in former Yugoslavia.
Recent Theme programmes
Topics covered in recent years include: "Solidarity as Disruption" (2021), "Leaving the Cinema – Knokke, Hamburg, Oberhausen (1967–1971)" (2018), "Social media before the Internet" (2017), "El Pueblo - Searching for Contemporary Latin America" (2016), "The Third Image – 3D Cinema as )Experiment" (2015); "Memories Can't Wait - Film without Film"(2014), "Flatness: Cinema After The Internet" (2013), "Provoking reality: Mavericks, MouveMents, Manifestos" (2012), "Shooting Animals. A Brief History of Animal Film" (2011), "From the Deep: The Great Experiment 1898-1918" (2010), "Unreal Asia" (2009), "Bordercrossers and Troublemakers", "Whose History" (2008), "Kinomuseum" and "Don't turn around! Children, Childhood, Cinema" (2007).
The Oberhausen Profiles are traditionally dedicated to the works of outstanding filmmakers, some of whom have dealt with short films for decades. The programmes are always presented personally by the artists or filmmakers*.
In two programmes, Oberhausen is presenting selected works by Morgan Fisher, one of the great North American experimental filmmakers. Fisher studied Art History and Film in the 1960s and began making films in 1968. His focus is on the means and methods of moving image production, often conceived as expanded cinema works. “One thing my films tend to do is examine a property or quality of a film,” Fisher himself commented. Among his best-known works is the 35-minute Standard Gauge from 1984, which also supplied the title of the 2005 exhibition of Fisher’s works at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In the 1990s, Fisher turned more towards painting, drawing and spatial works, but returned to filmmaking in 2003 with () (Parenthesis).
Oberhausen has repeatedly shown Fisher’s works since the 1970s; in 2007, he produced a version of his Screening Room for the Festival. His works were exhibited in museums and galleries across the globe, in Germany in Frankfurt, Cologne and Mönchengladbach, internationally in New York, London, Vienna, Basel and many other places.
The Indian Magnum photographer and filmmaker works at the intersection of film, photography, sound and text, combining in his experimental works journal-like approaches with questioning a constantly shifting work. In Oberhausen, he won the 2018 Prize of the Jury of the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia for The Lost Head & the Bird and was awarded the Main Prize of the International Jury for Bittersweet in 2020.
Hura’s works have been screened at numerous film festivals and presented at exhibitions including the Liverpool Biennial 2021, the Videonale and the Cincinnati Art Museum. They are in the collections of the MoMA, the Ishara Art Foundation and the Cincinnati Art Museum. Hura has also self-published five books under the imprint “Ugly Dog”, including “The Coast”, for which he won the Aperture – Paris PhotoBook of the Year Award in 2019. Sohrab Hura lives and works in New Delhi. In 2022, Oberhausen is presenting an overview of his film work.
With Rainer Komers, Oberhausen is honouring one of the most important German documentary filmmakers. Three programmes in Oberhausen and additional programmes at the Cologne Filmhaus in the run-up to the Festival will offer a survey of the oeuvre of the multiple award-winning director, who has been distinguished with, among others, the Ruhr Prize for Art and Science, the Film Prize of the State of Hesse and the German Film Prize.
Born in 1944, Komers, who studied film at the Düsseldorf Art Academy and photography at the Essen Folkwang School, lives in Mülheim/Ruhr and Berlin today. Film projects took him to all continents. His film poems derive their strength from a visual fascination with the modern age and its industrial and urban aesthetics, which he re-contextualizes by taking close looks at the manifold mutual interdependencies between humanity and nature. The three programmes in Oberhausen will range from his very early We Will Buy (1975) to B 224 (1999), with a focus on early works in which he explored the region. The accompanying programmes in Cologne will present additional works from all stages of his film career.
Summer, nature, coming-of-age; these are topics that are tightly woven into Shalimar Preuss’s œuvre. The Canadian-French filmmaker Preuss, born in 1980, studied film from 2004 until 2006, both in the US as well as in France at the renowned Le Fresnoy studio. Her films have won multiple awards and have been screened in Oberhausen as well as in Rotterdam and Clermont-Ferrand, among others.
Two of her short films were in our International Competitions: Rendez-vous à Stella-Plage in 2010, for which she received a Special Mention from the Jury of the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia and which was also nominated for the 2010 European Film Awards, and Étrange dit l’ange in 2017. Her first feature-length film Ma belle gosse was released in 2012 and was awarded Best French Film at Belfort. We are presenting a comprehensive overview of her short film oeuvre.
“Sylvia Schedelbauer is easily one of the most impressive moving-picture artists to emerge in the past decade.” (Artforum). Her films negotiate the space between historical narrative and personal, psychological realms through poetic manipulations of found and archival footage. Born in Tokyo in 1973, Schedelbauer has lived in Berlin since 1993, where she studied at the University of Arts with Katharina Sieverding.
Oberhausen has repeatedly screened her works, most recently Labor of Love in 2020. Her films have also been screened at the Berlinale, the Toronto International Film Festival or the London Film Festival. Her numerous awards include the VG Bildkunst Award, the German Film Critics’ Award and the Gus Van Sant Award for Best Experimental Film. Schedelbauer was a 2019/2020 arts fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.
From 2013 to 2017, Schedelbauer was also a member of the selection committee for the International Competition at Oberhausen.
Eszter Szabó studied at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts and the French Le Fresnoy École des Arts Contemporains. Today she combines painting, 2D and 3D animation and video in her practice, the latter often as animated versions of her paintings. Her focus is on manifestations of social processes in the mundane world; vulnerability, inertia or unfulfilled longings are among her themes. Her works have been presented in solo and group shows in, among others, Budapest, Paris, New York, Barcelona. She won the Leopold Bloom Art Award in 2021. Also in 2021, Oberhausen screened her work Széphercegnő (Princess Beauty) in its International Online Competition.
Eszter Szabó will personally present a selection of her works at the 68th Festival.
Sandor Aguilar (2017), Eija-Lisa Ahtila (2000), Victor Alimpiev/Olga Stolpovskaya (2006), Wojciech Bakowski (2014), Craig Baldwin (2000), Baloji (2021), Melika Bass (2021), Guy Ben-Ner (2007), Majoleine Boonstra (2007), Louise Botkay (2018), Linda Christanell (2012), Raquel Chalfi (2016), Jem Cohen (2001), Josef Dabernig (2016), Kiri Dalena (2019), Amit Dutta (2010), Nicolás Echevarría (2009), Heinz Emigholz (2001), Factory of Found Clothes (2009), Helga Fanderl (2013), Jeanne Faust (2016), Herbert Fritsch (2009), Susannah Gent (2020), Karpo Godina/Želimir Žilnik (2002), Marina Grižnić/Aina Šmid (2003), Bert Haanstra (1998), Anne Haugsgjerd (2016), Stefan Hayn (2005), James Herbert (1999), Yamada Isao (2004), Ito Takashi (2015), Ken Jacobs (1996), Jim Jennings (1998), William E. Jones (2011), Larry Jordan (2001), Aryan Kaganof (2014), Kanai Katsu (2007), Patrice Kirchhofer (2008), Ken Kobland (2007), Eva Könnemann (2018), Andrew Kötting (2008), Petar Krelja, Krsto Papić und Zoran Tadic (2013), Grzegorz Królikiewicz (2011), Mark Lewis (2005), Salomé Lamas (2018), Marie Lukáčová (2021), Dušan Makavejev (2003), Mara Mattuschka (2014), John Maybury (2002), Philbert Aimé Mbabazi Sharangabo (2020), Bjørn Melhus (2017), Deimantas Narkevicius (2014), Erkka Nissinen (2015), Matsumotu Toshio (2009), Münchner Gruppe: Klaus Lemke/Rudolf Thome/Max Zihlmann (2003), Gunvor Nelson (2010), Robert Nelson (2006), Vera Neubauer (2012), Ho Tzu Nyen (2013), No Wave (2010), Jayne Parker (2004), Kayako Oki (2019), Miranda Pennell (2006), Ilppo Pohjola (2012), Luther Price (2013), Laure Prouvost (2013), William Raban (2015), Jennifer Reeder (2015), Lis Rhodes (2008), Jósef Robakowski (2005), Roee Rosen (2012), Roter Hahn 1907 (2011), Larissa Sansour (2017), Sarajevo Documentary School (2009), Boris Schafgans (2006), Maya Schweizer (2020), John Smith (2002), Alexander Sokurov (2019), Eva Stefani (2019), Barbara Sternberg (2017), Sun Xun (2016), Jaan Toomik (2017), Salla Tykkä (2021), Robert Van Ackeren (2001), Mona Vătămanu & Florin Tudor (2018), Vipin Vijay (2015), Laura Waddington (2005), Orson Welles (2000), Joyce Wieland (2002), Charles Wilp (2001), John Wood & Paul Harrison (1999), Fred Worden (2010), Nina Yuen (2017) and Akram Zaatari (2008).
Profiles in retrospect
Here you can find the profiles from the last year.
Talking about film and cinema has always been an integral part of our Festival philosophy. In the Podium series, introduced in 2006, experts from all fields take up current issues around the short format – aesthetical, political, technical or commercial.
In 2022, we are planning a series of four live on-site panels, including “Western Canons and Local Legacies. Do Our Oceans Meet?”, moderated by Harkat Studios (see also Labs), and “Larger Than Screens. The Many African Cinemas You Only Think You Know”, which will take the Theme programme “Synchronize. Pan-African Film Networks” as a starting point for a closer look at African expanded cinema and will be moderated by curators Annett Busch and Marie-Hélène Gutberlet.
Additional panels will focus on collecting and archiving analogue film today and, on the 20th anniversary of AG Kurzfilm, the German short film association, on film education and short film.
In 2006 the Festival expanded its market by screenings from the catalogues of selected international distributors of experimental and artistic short films. The success was overwhelming: from the very first day, the halls were fully occupied and the audience showed great interest. In 2022 thirteen international distributors will present their catalogues.
The participating distributors 2022
In 2022, the following distributors will present their catalogues:
ARGOS centre for audiovisual arts (Belgium)
Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e. V. (Germany)
AV-arkki – The Centre for Finnish Media Art (Finland)
Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (Canada)
CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand (New Zealand)
Electronic Arts Intermix (USA)
Filmform – The Art Film & Video Archive (Sweden)
Light Cone (France)
In 2006 Oberhausen introduced this section, thus closing a gap: An international platform for screenings, encounters and expert discussions, specifically tailored to distributors of avant-garde and experimental films, did not exist at the time. The section very quickly developed into the world's largest showcase for art film distributors and is today a permanent fixture in the appointment calendar of professionals interested in short film. Representatives of all distributors are in Oberhausen. This makes this programme series not only a showcase for current international artistic moving images, but also a lively platform for maintaining contacts and exchanging ideas.
Since 2013 the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen has been focusing on an often neglected subject: archiving and restoration of experimental films. International archives are invited to present their collections and their work. From the very beginning, this section has met with great interest and has quickly established itself as one of the most popular parts of the festival, both among the audience and the professionals.
Both museum and archive, the Lumiton holds the material of the iconic Lumiton-Studios, which were among the most successful South American production companies from 1932 to 1952. In addition to the popular Lumiton productions and memorabilia, the archive, which is part of the eponymous museum founded in 2004, also preserves a variety of documentary, institutional and experimental films. Today, Lumiton is a dynamic space for education, exhibitions and media production. We are presenting a selection of experimental short films from the Lumiton archive.
Cinenova, founded in 1991, is dedicated to preserving and distributing the work of feminist film and video makers. Created from a merger of two feminist film and video distributors, Circles and Cinema of Women, Cinenova currently holds more than 300 titles that include artists’ moving images, experimental and feature films and educational films. The oldest works were made in the 1910s. Cinenova offers access to these titles and advice relating to moving image work directed by makers who identify as womxn, transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non–binary. In 2022, Oberhausen is presenting a selection of works from the archive.
The Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, founded in 1989, is dedicated to both spatial arts such as painting, photography and sculpture and time-based arts such as film, video, media art, music, dance, theatre and performance. Its archival activities focus on the electronic arts. From this rich collection, Oberhausen is presenting a selection of 1970s video works from various archives within the ZKM. This also highlights the work of the ZKM-based Laboratory for Antiquated Video Systems, which makes these works accessible in the first place.
Archives invited to date
Academy Film Archive, Los Angeles (2015); ACC Film and Video Archive, Gwangju (2018); BFI National Archive, London (2015); Center for Visual Music, Los Angeles (2016); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2016); Cinémathèque de la Ville de Luxembourg und Centre national de l'audiovisuel, Luxemburg (2018); Cinémathèque Française, Paris (2013); Cinemateca Portugesa, Lissabon (2017); Cyland Video Archive, St. Petersburg (2020); Eye Film, Amsterdam (2014); Filmoteca de Catalunya, Barcelona (2018); Filmoteka Muzeum, Warschau (2014); Fundacja Arton, Warschau (2020); Gosfilmofond, Moskau (2017); Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge (2014); Home Movies - Archivio Nazionale del Film di Famiglia, Bologna (2017); Israel Film Archive, Jerusalem (2019); Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Wien (2015); Národní filmový archiv, Prag (2019); National Film Center, Tokyo (2015); Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley (2013); Slovak Film Institute, Bratislava (2018); Slovenska Kinoteka, Ljubljana (2013), Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm (2017); The Temenos Archive, Zürich (2014); Videokunstarkivet, Oslo (2016); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2019); Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester (2021); Collectif Jeune Cinema, Paris (2021).
Launched in 2018 and dedicated to analogue film labs across the world, our Labs section had to pause during our online editions and will resume at the 2022 Festival. Under the overall title “Workshop Stories”, we will present the works of around 18 labs in three programmes, with a focus on Canadian labs, including the Canadian Film Farm, who will also hold a workshop during the Festival.
The programmes will be completed by lecture-performances by Karan Talwar of the Mumbai/Berlin-based Harkat Studios and by filmmakers Maximilian Le Cain (Ireland) and Lea Lanoë (France).
Labs: Collective ventures on celluloid
Introduced in 2018, "Labs" is dedicated to the numerous artists' labs that have formed a network and go public with their own events (filmlabs.org). The section thus continues the Festival's preoccupation with alternatives to the domination of the digital. This is about the interaction between celluloid and photochemical processes, as well as collective, independent production and distribution models. The commercial exploitation of analogue film is coming to an end. What perspectives can analogue artistic film and collective working methods have in our post-cinematographic reality? Thus, a discourse on questions of production, distribution, performance as well as aesthetics will be deepened.
Conditional Cinema: The Obsolete Human
The third and final part of the Conditional Cinema project brings together works that focus on a cinema where the human element has become vague and sometimes almost unnecessary. It presents a flow of three speculative and fuzzy conditions – the screen, the weather and, finally, non-human actors.
The programmes take place on-site at Lichtburg’s Gloria cinema and feature several live elements. We embrace conditions of classical cinema: darkness, screen, good sound system. No streaming available.
The Conditional Cinema project concludes with an Artist Talk reviewing the trajectory of the series, which investigated over three years (starting in 2018 and interrupted by Corona in 2020 and 2021) how “live cinema” responds to the global online culture, the decline of manual labour and the problem of obsolete humans.
Conditional Cinema Background
Oberhausen has frequently investigated the space of the cinema and its possibilities in its programmes, exploring modes of presenting films that go beyond pure projection. Mika Taanila’s project for Oberhausen, "Conditional Cinema", is part of this exploration. In three part, it addresses Live Cinema as a means to investigate post-capitalist utopias in art. Taanila, who curated the successful Theme programme "Memories Can’t Wait – Film Without Film" for Oberhausen in 2014, focuses here on how live "films" respond to the decline of manual labour and the problem of the obsolete human.
Conditional Cinema 2019: Das Kino der Worte
Sometimes words speak louder than actions. The second cycle of Conditional Cinema focuses on human presence, voice and language as central cinematic ingredients. The programmes celebrate spoken film and the cinema of words.
The Finnish-German artist collective Speech Karaoke Action Group (SKAG) invites the audience to participate in a real-time collage mix of speeches about cinema. The participants are able to choose their favourite "film speech" from a vast pool and perfor it – just like they would a favourite song at traditional karaoke events. Peter Miller continues his exploration of the cinema space, this time focusing on human presence and manually generated real-time sounds. Mexican filmmaker Manuela de Laborde talks about the second phase of her three-year film project Ficciones. Marguerite Duras' Le Camion is a true manifesto of conditional, extremely imaginary cinema of possibilities: a haunting love story that takes full advantage of the audience's ability to imagine and construct the entire film based on minimal clues.
The three-year project Conditional Cinema maps territories of cinema and cinema culture that can be described as "unfinished scenarios" or "film skeletons". In 2020, the project will come full circle with a focus on the theme of "The Obsolete Man".
Conditional Cinema 1
Film Speeches, Speech Karaoke Action Group/Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Finnland, 2019, 90’00”
In speech karaoke – as the name suggests – you choose a speech instead of a song. Under the name The Speech Karaoke Action Group they collectively operate this constantly expanding project. The SKAG does not represent any particular political or ideological conviction.
Speech Karaoke Action Group are a multidisciplinary group of artists from Helsinki. SKAG has been organising participatory events in Finland and internationally for several years now - with good success. Group members are the artists Frank Brümmel, Krister Gråhn, Tellervo Kalleinen, Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Tuomas Aleksander Laitinen, Carl Sebastian Lindberg, Essi Ojanperä, Pilvari Pirtola, Johanna Raekallio, Satu Rautiainen, Pasi Rauhala, Jyrki Riekki, Hanna Saarikoski and Julius Valve.
Conditional Cinema 2
Ficciones (rushes), Manuela de Laborde, Deutschland/Mexiko, 2019, 15’00”
Cycle two of "Ficciones" for Conditional Cinema will show the rushes documenting the mossy sculptures, taken by multiple cameras gridded in a mobile structure, alongside readings from personal notes written with the artist’s left hand.
This Thing Connecting Us, Peter Miller, Deutschland, 2019, 20’00”
... Site-specific sound/light conditional trasition into ...
Frames per Second (performance), Peter Miller, Deutschland, 2019, 15’00”
Conditional Cinema 3
The Better Way Back to the Soil, Youki Hirakawa, Japan, 2017, 7’30”
Le Camion, Marguerite Duras, Frankreich, 1977, 76’00”
"...In Youki Hirakawas mesmerising short film The Better Way Back to the Soil the artist arranges the titles of lost silent films in a discreet composition. On the screen, we see nothing but the film titles, their production years and lots of black. On the soundtrack, the narrator reads the very same information; the combination resembles a poetic mystery tale. It is estimated that approximately 80% of early silent films shown up until the 1930s are lost forever. Hirakawa’s exercise becomes a delicate contemplation of cinema history and time. Marguerite Duras’ 1977 film The Truck is a true manifesto of the conditional, extremely imaginative cinema of the ‘would-be’. It is a feature-length narrative film whose core is the act of reading (not acting!) the hypothetical script of a future film at a table. Only a handful of shots outside the reading room – mostly landscapes next to highways – are seen in the entire film. The narrative itself is a haunting love story, a full exploitation of the viewer’s ability to imagine and construct the whole film with minimal means. Enhancing the tension between reality and fiction, the readers’ parts are played by Duras herself (M. G.) and Gérard Depardieu […]
The confrontation between Hirakawa and Duras highlights the extreme opposites of potential film: Hirakawa worked with hard historical facts and ultra-minimalist rules for his film, while Duras, by contrast, imagined a whole universe for her film that was never even meant to be made. Every story has a beginning, middle and ending. The three-year Conditional Cinema project is now in its middle. This is the annual report. In 2020, things will come full circle with a focus on the theme ‘The Obsolete Human’." (Mika Taanila)
Conditional Cinema 2018: Live Cinema
One key to IKEA’s phenomenal success has been the idea of switching the task of assembling domestic items from factories to sweat-shops at homes. Is it possible to imagine movies that the viewer is asked to assemble? The project Conditional Cinema is an attempt to use the trendy notion of "live cinema" as a tool – IKEA’s hexagonal key – to explore the utopias of art after capitalism. What is the role of cinema and moving image art in post-capitalism? The dark and essentially silent space of cinema is public but still extremely private, close but distant. What if it is the only peaceful and private oasis in our turbulent times? Conditional Cinema will unfold its theme in annual progression from 2018 to 2020. "Conditional" as in dependent on something specific, as in human condition, screening conditions … (Mika Taanila)
Live CinemaThe first edition in 2018 presented works in a traditional cinema setting, but with the proviso that moving image is understood as a fluid art form: live "films" that were generative, improvised, semi-automatic, systematic or austere and "happen right now".
Conditional Cinema 1
This Thing Connecting Us, Peter Miller, Germany, 2018, 20'00''
Set, Peter Miller, Germany, 2016, 09'45''
Stained Glass, Peter Miller, 2016, 10'00''
ST*R, Peter Miller, Germany, 2018
Peter Miller has been working with projection as a performance for a long time. His subtle cinematic works pull the focus from predestined narrative events towards "the now", the lens, the beam, the flicker. Miller’s films are kind and nice at first glance, but drill deep. Once you've seen them live, they keep coming back in the dark hours of the night. The delicate lightness of their execution and the openness of the "content" are the beautiful, restless fuel for the true cinema of everyone's very own imaginary world. We will see a programme of poetic Miller works that revolve around celestial themes. As powerful as these planetary works are in their conceptual thinking and form, they are materialistic, downright down-to-earth, per se.
Conditional Cinema 2
The Filmers' Almanac, Owen O'Toole, USA, 1988, 180'00''
The Filmers’ Almanac was a collaborative Super 8 venture, masterminded by mail-artist and cine-activist Owen O’Toole from his Somerville, Maine HQ in 1988. Inspired by Hollis Frampton’s unfinished calendrical film cycle "Magellan", the serial omnibus piece features over 200 contributions, miniature films from artists, film-makers and cine-hobbyists around the world, with the formal idea of each member shooting one standard S-8 reel or less (max. 50 feet) on one specifically determined day of the calendar in 1988 and then mailing it to O’Toole, who would complete the montage, without leaving anything out. With this global film initiative O’Toole attempted to blur the role of the single author and to avoid subjective taste and obsessive control over "quality": "I seek to measure my own capacities and those of the open community of exchange available thru the post. We hope to assemble a massive collective vision of the passage of time, possibly a method of measurements for the dimensions of our planet."
The project is a fascinating period piece, a peek into the heydays of artistic Super 8 film-making and the pre-internet networking culture of moving image in total. All correspondence between O’Toole and his web of fellow artists was done via mail. The screenings of the work were different every time and improvised according to the technical limitations of the venue and the attention span of its audience. Between 1989 and 1991 the work was screened a few dozen times at various small film festivals and art events across the US. In Europe it was shown in places like Braunschweig, Bielefeld, Bonn, Paris and Helsinki, as O’Toole travelled with the film reels in his hand luggage. Finally, in 1999, MoMA in New York and San Francisco Cinematheque screened The Filmers’ Almanac as part of their extensive "Big As Life" programmes dedicated to the art of Super 8 film-making. In Oberhausen we are proud to present the work in its original glory, on celluloid and using a variety of different audio sources, colour gels, a "lazy Susan", mood curves and other enigmatic screening instructions. The screening of The Filmers’ Almanac on its 30th anniversary in Oberhausen is a tribute to Owen O’Toole, who passed away after a long illness last July.
Conditional Cinema 3
Ficciones, Manuela de Laborde, Mexico, 2018, 30'00''
Manuela de Laborde's work Ficciones (2018), a collaboration with sound artist David Goldberg for Conditional Cinema will be a three-year film cycle, a process that develops with time. A series of clay sculptures resembling the plant form were developed to explore the "movies" around living objects. These sculptures are the ensemble of performers in her film, organic live cinema in the form of gardening and caring. In the first part of the cycle the characters will be ‘planted’ and contemplated bare as they are before growth surrounds them in the form of a performance. The procedural work might trigger memory flashbacks to the use of time in the history of moving image, from Warhol’s silent "Screen Test" series (1964–66) to Richard Linklater’s "Boyhood" (2014), as the video signal of the subtle presence of greens will be projected on the screen lifting its reality to cinematic fiction.
Literal Transition, Anton Nikkilä, Finnland, 2018, 30'00''
Anton Nikkilä is a composer and translator. In his basement studio, time has stood still in 2015 according to the museum gift shop calendar on the wall. While staring at "Suprematism" by Kazimir Malevich, 1915, reproduced on the last page of the calendar, Nikkilä has dreamt up an impossible project: it’s time to somehow transcode and re-assemble the aesthetic ideals of historical Russian avant-garde art using the basic building blocks of today’s electronic music. But how to do it, if there is no revolution to electrify and animate these constructions? And why? Nikkilä doesn’t have an answer, but proceeds without paying dues to any historical or ideological correctness, using old cryptic paintings and theoretical texts as his semi-procedural instruction manual for composing. Literal Translations (2018) is a film-without-film performance, with computer music for a vertically mounted quadraphonic anti-immersive 2D sound system, intertitles and cinema subtitles hovering in space.
Mika Taanila is a filmmaker and visual artist based in Helsinki. His works have been shown, among others, at the Venice Biennale 2017, Aichi Triennale 2013 and documenta 2012. Solo shows include Galerie Anhava (2021), Padiglione de l’Esprit Nouveau in Bologna (2020), STUK Leuven (2018), Kiasma Helsinki (2013/14) and CAM St. Louis (2013). In 2014, he curated the Theme programme “Memories Can’t Wait – Film without Film” in Oberhausen.
Launched in 2018, re-selected uses the Oberhausen Archive as a material starting point for research and curated programmes. At the 68th Festival, four re-selected programmes will again highlight the archive as a contemporary actor, focusing on documentary filmmaker Peter Nestler, a revision of the Oberhausen 1993 project “Confrontation of Cultures” and on Yugoslavian films, for which the Oberhausen Archive has become a kind of exile.
Due to the decades-long political bridging function of the Short Film Festival, the film country Yugoslavia is particularly well represented in the archive. Between 1958 and 1992, around 100 film prints from there remained in the prize collection in Oberhausen. A selection curated by Petra Belc and Aleksandra Miljković sheds a critical light on this “Archive in Exile” and its artistic and historical relevance – and on the now provocative anachronism of the name “Yugoslavia” under which these works are archived.
In two film programmes, re-selected will, after almost 30 years, take up the Oberhausen programme “Confrontation of Cultures” from 1993, a comprehensive show of works by Black authors from Great Britain, North America and the Caribbean which even then constituted an attempt to “de-colonize our view” (Angela Haardt). Artist and scholar Karina Griffith sketches the speculative place of Black German authorship in the early 1990s; film scholar Merv Espina examines the role of the Goethe Institute film workshops as laboratories of mutual influence between local filmmakers and German “instructors”.
Peter Nestler and the Oberhausen Festival share a long and eventful history. In 1966, the Oberhausen scandal around his lucid film From Greece became one of the triggers that lead to his emigration to Sweden. Nonetheless, Nestler maintained ties with the Festival, became its informal advisor and consultant for the Swedish film selections and served as a member of the International Jury twice, in 1975 and 1990. In the presence of Nestler the program makes an associative arc from one of his first films, Essays, to the most recent Picasso in Vallauris, which can be seen here as a cinema premiere.
About re-selected: film history as history of copies
Launched in 2018, the re-selected project will take three years to devote itself to selected films from the analogue stock of the Oberhausen archive at the designated "end of the analogue age" and to examine film history as the history of individual film copies.
Rather than propagating the digital "rescue" of a cinematic work as an ideal, the project is interested precisely in the peculiarities of a copy, which are usually erased during digitisation. They can provide information about a concrete development, local public spheres and contemporary historical constellations. Where and when was a film shown at all, who saw it, in which version, in which composition? Every copy is an original - and not only when it turns out to be the only remaining copy of a film.
re-selected is a joint project of the Internatiional Short Film Festival Oberhausen and the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art as part of "Archive außer sich" in cooperation with the House of World Cultures, funded within the framework of "Das Neue Alphabet" by the BKM based on a resolution of the German Bundestag.
Featuring a series of live performances divided over two programs, Celluloid Expanded presents the first large-scale overview of the rich and diverse landscape of Canadian artist run film labs and collectives to Europe, with a focus on Canadian expanded cinema, in the programmes and an artist talk.
Under the title “Flesh of the World”, artists' manipulation and re-interpretation of the tools and materials of cinema are highlighted, including performances by Alex MacKenzie (Iris Film Collective, Cineworks), Lindsay McIntyre (EMO Collective, Cineworks, FAVA) and Heidi Phillips & Ian Campbell (Winnipeg Film Group, Saskatchewan Filmpool). “Looking Out Looking In” will highlight documentary and diaristic approaches to photochemical cinema, including a performance by John Price (Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto, Niagara Custom Lab).
In addition to the two performance programmes, Celluloid Expanded will present a panel discussion featuring all of the artists, moderated by Erin Weisgerber.
Goethe-Institut Tokyo 2022
In 2022, the Goethe-Institut Tokyo celebrates its 60th birthday. The start of the institute’s activities in German-Japanese cultural exchange in 1962 falls in a period, when structures of the political, social and cultural realm started to waver, that had been solidifying in both countries after WWII. In the field of the Arts aesthetic norms as well as production structures were radically questioned and re-defined.
Under the title “unrest 62|22” the Goethe-Institut Tokyo reflects this period of productive unrest from a contemporary point of view in an interdisciplinary event series. The opening marks the premiere of two commissioned works by Kaori Oda and Sylvia Schedelbauer, which is held simultaneously in Oberhausen and Tokyo. In their new works, the two filmmakers refer to the film avant-garde of the 1960s from a contemporary perspective and counter the male-dominated cultural scene of that time with alternative views that fantasize about the role of women in the past and present. After the film premiere, the venues in Oberhausen and Tokyo will be connected and the two filmmakers enter into dialogue.
A look at the rich diversity of Lithuanian short film production over the past 10 years in three programmes curated by Deimantas Narkevičius continues the Country Focus series launched in 2021.
Since 1998, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen shows a selection of trend-setting international music videos and formally exceptional works - a showcase of current developments in the music video genre.
A programme of international music videos for kids aged 14 and older. MuVi 14+ is a rich and varied cross section of recent video clips ranging from handmade to computer-generated.
Award Winners of Other Festivals
On its first day, Oberhausen traditionally shows short films that have received awards at other festivals. A cross-section of the past festival season.
The best of the best: To mark the conclusion of the festival, the Oberhausen team will show their favourite films from the competitions once more.
Oberhausen’s Filmgeflacker art collective will be presenting films from this year’s competitions, and the filmmakers will be invited to discuss their works with the audience.
The One Minutes
In cooperation with the One Minutes Foundation, Oberhausen presents one-minute films in two series curated for the festival.
Three programmes with interesting European short films, all nominated for the European Short Film Award of the previous year.
For the first time, the 2009 Festival presented a programme made only by the short filmmakers themselves: the Open Screening. Here everyone who submitted a work for the competitions but was not selected, and whose film does not exceed a length of 15 minutes, has the chance to present their work at the festival after all.
Registration is essential for participation in the Open Screening: the limited programme places are allocated strictly on a first-come, first-served basis and are usually filled in less than a minute.
Four Perspectives: Movement
The member festivals of the Euroean Short Film Network present four programmes on the subject of movement: Oberhausen (Germany), Go Short (Netherlands), Vienna Shorts (Austria) and Short Waves (Poland).