Leaving the Cinema: Knokke, Hamburg, Oberhausen (1967-1971)
Fifty years after the watershed year of 1968, Oberhausen is presenting a Theme programme entitled “Leaving the Cinema: Knokke, Hamburg, Oberhausen (1967-1971)” that gives an overview of an aesthetic and political upheaval that has left its mark on (artistic) film to this day. Featuring eight film programmes and a podium discussion, it brings together sometimes legendary works by Claudia von Alemann, Hartmut Bitomsky and Harun Farocki, Hellmuth Costard, Stephen Dwoskin, Birgit and Wilhelm Hein, Lutz Mommartz, Werner Nekes and Dore O., Hans Scheugl and others. Expected guests include Xavier García Bardón, Birgit Hein,Lutz Mommartz and Adolf Winkelmann. “Leaving the Cinema” is curated by the film- and cinema-maker Peter Hoffmann (Hanover).
At the end of the 1960s, filmmakers were looking for a new public outside the existing system of cinemas and festivals, which was closed to both artistic experiments and political agitation. The new films were not produced with any commercial intent but arose from the artistic and political motivation of individual filmmakers. This radical change in the way filmmakers saw themselves led in 1968 to a historic turning point where the cornerstone was already laid for artist film's abandonment of the cinema in favour of the white cube of the art industry. “The filmmakers began helping to dig the grave of cinema because they wanted to be perceived as artists,” says Lars Henrik Gass, the director of the Oberhausen Festival. “Among other things, this development contributed to the fact that the art industry today claims the prerogative of deciding to what degree a film is artistic or not.” The cinema system responded by creating non-commercial communal cinemas; the self-established structures of filmmaker collectives and distribution cooperatives, however, fell apart after a short time.
This movement out of the cinema not only brought with it a formal expansion including multiple projections, film loops, intermedia and “expanded cinema”, but also saw film being used for political work. “Farewell to Cinema” takes examples of German and non-German initiatives to explore both of these developments. For instance, Oberhausen will be presenting Lutz Mommartz' legendary film installation Zweileinwandkino (Two-Screen Cinema) and rediscoveries of forgotten works such as the films of Swiss filmmaker Klaus Schönherr, the artist duo Irm and Ed Sommer from Schwäbisch Gmünd and the Kasseler Filmkollektiv, as well as a programme on one of the most important representatives and early activists of the “Anderes Kino” (“Other Cinema”), Werner Nekes, who died last year.
In October 1967, a group of Hamburg filmmakers began mulling the idea of setting up their own festival and distribution system. From 1968, within a relatively short space of time, a number of filmmakers' cooperatives and alternative festival and screening venues were initiated whose thematic focuses partly highlighted lines of conflict: “Anderes Kino” and “Sozialistische Film-Coop” (Hamburg), “Underground” (Cologne) or “Unabhängiger Film” (Munich). Groups and collectives also formed outside of Germany. Milestones in this process include the legendary festival EXPRMNTL 4 in Knokke, Belgium, at the end of 1967, the 1st Hamburger Filmschau in February 1968 and the 14th West German Short Film Festival in Oberhausen in April 1968, which was marked by the pull-out of German filmmakers after the scandal surrounding Hellmuth Costard's film Besonders wertvoll.
Peter Hoffmann has been actively involved in the collective of the “Kino im Sprengel” in Hanover for many years. Since 2015, he has been particularly occupied with researching the “Filmmacher Cooperative Hamburg” and the “Anderes Kino”. As a filmmaker, he has made not only short films but also two feature films that have received international awards: Oliva Oliva (2005) and La dernière année (2011). He occasionally works as a film translator.
Oberhausen, 18 December 2017
Sabine Niewalda, phone +49 (0)208 825-3073, firstname.lastname@example.org