Against Gravity. The Art of Machinima
Machinima is defined as the “art of making animated films within a real-time virtual 3D environment”, such as computer games. While using a number of media — film, documentary, videogame, performance, theatre, puppetry – the works are always based on a computer game engine or a live 3D animation software. Oberhausen is the first major film festival to show a large-scale overview of a constantly evolving format, curated by Vladimir Nadein and Dmitry Frolov. In eight film programmes and a Podium discussion, “Against Gravity” will take a closer look at the aesthetic and artistic potential offered by machinima.
Having emerged in a grassroots gaming community, machinima has become a more and more attractive medium for contemporary artists and experimental filmmakers. Especially today, when so many people are constantly absorbed by ubiquitous screens, it is seen as a fruitful instrument to represent the virtual experience. The Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences, founded in 2002, has organised several festivals between 2002 and 2008, specialised festivals like the Milan Machinima Festival have followed.
Featuring works by Alice Bucknell (UK), IP Yuk-Yiu (Hong Kong), Jamie Janković (UK), Federica Di Pietrantonio (Italy), Total Refusal (Austria), Harun Farocki (Germany), Phil Solomon (USA), Jacky Connoly (USA) and many others working in the field today. A Podium discussion on the origins and future of machinimaking will complement the film programmes.
Vladimir Nadein (b. 1993, Moscow) is a curator, artist and film producer based in Taipei, Taiwan. His works were presented at the solo exhibition Deep Play, VT Artsalon and Greater Taipei Biennale. He produced an award-winning film Detours, supported by Hubert Bals Fund, received the Eurimages Lab Project Award at Les Arcs Film Festival and was shown at Venice Critics' Week, Viennale, Thessaloniki IFF, Berlin Critics' Week, FICUNAM, Jeonju IFF, IndieLisboa, Beldocs, FILMADRID, Camden IFF, TFAI, Barbican Centre among others. In 2016, Nadein co-founded the Moscow International Experimental Film Festival and directed it for five editions. He curated special programmes and screenings for the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, Hamburg Short Film Festival, Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Garage Museum, University of California, Los Angeles and other venues. Nadein tutored at the Moscow School of New Cinema and is a member of the filmmaking duo together with Dina Karaman.
Dmitry Frolov (b. 1988, Kaliningrad) is an art and film curator and researcher based in Izmir, Turkey. He holds a BA in Сultural Studies from the Russian State University for the Humanities and an MA in Film Programming and Curating from Birkbeck, University of London. He has curated a variety of screenings, panels, performances and exhibitions dedicated to such artists as Maya Deren, Chris Marker, Tony Conrad, Vladimir Kobrin, Yoko Ono, Michael Snow, Annabel Nicholson, James Benning, Alain Cavalier, Aura Satz, Cao Fei, Ana Vaz, Cyprien Gaillard, etc. His texts have been published in Iskusstvo Kino, Spectate, Colta.ru, Syg.ma and other media. Since 2017, he has been working as a curator at the Moscow International Experimental Film Festival (MIEFF). Currently, he is also working as a film curator at Pushkin House, London.
About the Theme programme
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. Here, the Festival reflects the enormous variety of the short form, whether avant-garde, advertising or scientific film, whether expanded cinema or linear installation excerpt, within thematic contexts, creating a forum for cinematic and social discussions that, starting with the short film, extend far beyond film-related issues and engage in an overarching dialogue on image production in the arts, new technologies and sciences.
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), "Solidarity As Disruption – Epilogue" (2022), "Synchronize. Pan-African Film Networks" (2022)
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*.
Marcel Broodthaers (1924-1976) is considered one of the seminal artists of the 1980s and '90s. He was one of the first to address, often subversively, the institutional and economic contexts of art in his installations and artworks. Film was one of the fundamental means of artistic expression for him and he left behind a cinematic oeuvre of around 50 short films, in which he also explored the history, technology and conventions of cinema. In 2008, Oberhausen showed his work Figures of Wax in its thematic program "Whose History?". Now the festival presents a selection of Broodthaers' short films in an extensive Profile.
Born in 1980 in the USA and raised in Lesotho and South Africa, his central theme is life in South Africa after the end of apartheid. He has been making films since 2004; the first of his works screened in the International Competition in Oberhausen was Kinshasa 2.0 in 2008. His films have been shown worldwide at film festivals and in art contexts, in Oberhausen he won the Principal Prize of the International Jury in 2013 for Gangster Backstage, and the First Prize of the Jury of the Ministry of Culture and Science NRW and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury in 2020 for Shepherds. The Profile will offer an overview of his short film works.
Presenting a rare opportunity to discover Alexandra Gulea's short films: Born in Romania, Gulea studied art in Bucharest and Paris and film in Munich. She has been making short and feature-length films since 2000 – documentary and experimental works about the country of her birth, about memory and history, visually powerful and complex. Oberhausen screened her first film Anonym in 2001, and she has twice won the Prize of the German Competition: in 2018 for VALEA JIULUI - NOTES, in 2022 for ŃEALE AZBUIRĂTOARE (FLYING SHEEP). This Profile will present the artist's complete body of short film work.
The New York experimental filmmaker and poet has been making films for nearly 40 years. Her work is feminist, subjective, addressing political and social issues and weaving archival footage, photographs, poetry and music, image and sound into complex and poetic films. Her films have repeatedly been screened at our festival and in 2020 she won the Grand Prize of the City of Oberhausen for A Month of Single Frames. In 2023, we are presenting an overview of Sachs' oeuvre.
In 2018, she won the Zonta Prize at Oberhausen for her film Tsuchi no hito - 2017 gekijyoban (Mud Man – 2017 Film Ver.), and in 2020, Chinbin Western was screened in the International Competition. The Japanese artist and filmmaker's subject matter is the history, politics and culture of her native Okinawa, with a particular focus on the consequences of World War II. She has had a number of exhibitions in her homeland and won the Asian Art Award in 2017, but in Europe Yamashiro's work remains to be discovered. Oberhausen is presenting a selection of her work.
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), Morgan Fisher (2022), 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), Sohrab Hura (2022), 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), Rainer Komers (2022), Eva Könnemann (2018), Andrew Kötting (2008), Petar Krelja, Krsto Papić and 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), Shalimar Preuss (2022), 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), Sylvia Schedelbauer (2022), Maya Schweizer (2020), John Smith (2002), Alexander Sokurov (2019), Eva Stefani (2019), Barbara Sternberg (2017), Sun Xun (2016), Eszter Szabó (2022), 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.
Podium & Talks
The Soul of the Festival
How are film festivals working now; who is included and who is excluded? What are the responsibilities of film festivals facing post-COVID audience decline, funding costs and a cost of living crisis and how do they maintain their relevance and integrity? Together we will think out aloud about the current state of things and consider who takes care of the festival’s soul.
Moderated by Ben Cook (LUX)
25 years of MuVi Awards: Saving Pop Culture
Taking stock and looking towards the future potential of music videos: videomakers, writers, labels and musicians in discussion on the occasion of the 25th MuVi Award.
Moderated by: Liz Remter, ByteFM
Hosted by ByteFM
Between Cinema and Video Games: Exploring the Elusive Medium of Machinima
A discussion of the relationship between video games and cinema. Particular attention will be paid to the origins, challenges and opportunities, as well as the uniqueness of an art form that’s essentially interdisciplinary.
With: Alice Bucknell (artist and writer, London), Ip Yuk-Yiu (filmmaker, media artist, art educator and curator, Hong Kong), Gemma Fantacci (curator, Milan Machinima Festival), Tracy Harwood (Professor of Digital Culture, De Montfort University, Leicester).
Moderated by curators Vladimir Nadein and Dmitry Frolov
Podium topics of the last years
Introduced in 2006, this series of discussions has quickly established as a place to engage with film. Here, scholars, curators, artists and authors discuss current aesthetic, technological, cultural-political and economic issues relating to short film. The steadily growing audience is invited to participate. Among those who have been in Oberhausen so far are: Catherine David, Chris Dercon, Diedrich Diederichsen, Adrienne Goehler, Alexander Horwath, Oskar Negt, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Martha Rosler and Akram Zaatari.
Western Canons and Local Legacies. Do Our Oceans Meet?
Larger Than Screens. The Many African Cinemas You Only Think You Know
Collecting and archiving analogue film today
20th anniversary of AG Kurzfilm: film education and short film
Between marketing and art: the cinema of coming attractions
Video-on-Demand: new opportunities for filmmakers and festivals?
Rebooting the celluloid agenda?
Are film festivals the place for 360° and Virtual Reality?
Collaboration among film festivals - the new key to success
Leaving the cinema and its consequences
After youtube - music video after the internet
Exhibition and the cinema
More information in our Looking back
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 2023, 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)
EYE Film Institute (Netherlands)
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.
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.
This year our Labs series continues with the ArkFilmLab (Italy), Laboratoire L’Argent (France), Laboratório da Torre (Portugal), LEC (Laboratorio Experimental de Cine, Mexico), and Polar Film Lab (Norway).
re-selected: Bringing archives to life
Four new programmes in our series which uses the Oberhausen archive as its starting point, curated by Tobias Hering. We continue to examine the 1993 Oberhausen “Confrontation of Cultures” theme, two programmes explore gestures of solidarity with the so-called “Third World” made by our festival in the 1970s, and Scott Miller Berry co-presents “Foster Films”, an eclectic set of films stranded in festival archives.
"re-selected" examines film history as the history of individual film copies and is dedicated to selected films from the archive of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen.
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 headed by Tobias Hering and run by the International 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.
Expanded: SPECTRAL, part 1
Against the tyranny of content streams and for the communal cinematic experience: Oberhausen continues its focus on expanded and analogue cinema. Following the hugely successful Celluloid Expanded shows in 2022, a new three-part series featuring SPECTRAL labs will be launched in 2023. SPECTRAL (Spatial Performative & Expanded Cinematics – Transnational Research at Artist-run Labs) is a partnership of six European artist-run film labs – Baltic Analog Lab (Riga), Laia/Torre (Porto), Crater-Lab (Barcelona), Mire (Nantes), Filmwerkplaats (Rotterdam) and LaborBerlin (Berlin) – whose goal is to support the creation of new works of live analogue cinema. Every year, two of the SPECTRAL labs will select and present pieces of expanded cinema art in Oberhausen, starting with LaborBerlin and Filmwerkplaats in 2023.
SPECTRAL is co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Commission.
henschel (at) kurzfilmtage.de
NEW: to be continued
Presenting a selection of works-in-progress by directors from last year’s competitions that will give programmers and curators a first glimpse of coming shorts and filmmakers an opportunity to test-screen their works.
Country Focus: Basque Country
A look at the rich diversity of recent short film production in the Basque country, curated by Vanesa Fernández Guerra, director of the ZINEBI festival (Bilbao).
In the Country Focus, the International Short Film Festival will present the latest short film production of a European country every year, compiled by a curator from the respective country.
Lithuania (2022) and Portugal (2020).
Individual consultation with Filmbüro NW for filmmakers from NRW
A free offer to all filmmakers from NRW who can consult members of the Filmbüro NW on all questions of production, funding and festival placement of short films. Prior registration required!
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.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the MuVi Award with a screening of all 1st Prize winners since 1999 – fast forward through 25 years of German music video history
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.
26.4. 17:15 h, Lichtburg Filmpalast
The Team Favourites 2023
To mark the conclusion of the festival, the Oberhausen team will personally introduce their favourites from this year’s competitions.
Get into the festival spirit with a look at some highlights from last year’s competitions.
Oberhausen’s Filmgeflacker art collective is presenting films from this year’s competitions and inviting the filmmakers 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.
The One Minutes Jr.
42 one-minute films from Europe, made by and for young people.
The Milan-based organisation has been producing, exhibiting, cataloguing, preserving and promoting film and media art since 1987. Marta Bianchi presents a selection.
Nine audience award winners from other European short film festivals demonstrate the creative diversity of European cinema in two programmes.
Kinemathek im Ruhrgebiet
The Kinemathek im Ruhrgebiet/FilmArchiv has been collecting and restoring historical film material from the former coal-mining area for more than 40 years. In Oberhausen, the initiative will once again show highlights from its holdings, this year including works on the occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 and the diversion of the lower reaches of the Emscher in the late 1940s. Presented and introduced by its director, Paul Hofmann.
NRW in person
Filmmakers from North Rhine-Westphalia get carte blanche for a programme of their own films and formative works by other filmmakers. This year by and with Miriam Gossing and Lina Sieckmann from Cologne.
Thema „Against Gravity“ 14+
A special selection of films from our Theme programme on machinima for people from the age of 14.
Station Wunderland 6+
A journey through more than 100 years of film history for everyone from the age of six, from the first film ever screened to the public to dancing robots.
Unseen Paths – Hommage à Jean-Marie Straub (1933-2022)
A biased selection from the last works of Jean-Marie Straub and a tribute to a passionate and rebellious cineaste and frequent guest in Oberhausen.
For Angela Haardt – The Beauty of Remaining Enigmas
A personal selection by former festival director Angela Haardt on the occasion of her 80th birthday with films by Ruchir Joshi, Walid Ra’ad, Toshio Matsumoto a.o.
Analogue Imagination – Selected Works from School Friedl Kubelka
Analogue films from the School Friedl Kubelka in Vienna, curated by Philipp Fleischmann and presented as a cooperation of the ESFN.
The Independent Archive: Argentina
Drei argentinische Projekte widmen sich den Super-8-Filmen von Narcisa Hirsch, Marie Louise Alemann und Sergio Levin, jeweils mit dem Ziel, ein Archiv zu etablieren. Federico Windhausen (Filmhistoriker, Kurator und Autor) stellt die unterschiedlichen Herangehensweisen vor und zeigt digitalisierte Filmbeispiele.