Goethe-Institut Mourns Filmmaker Harun Farocki

The sudden passing of the filmmaker caused great distress among the staff of the Goethe-Institut. Many of them had worked closely with him. “We have lost one of the most intelligent and original German filmmakers,” said Johannes Ebert, the secretary-general of the Goethe-Institut. “Harun Farocki consistently gave new stimuli to documentary filmmaking far beyond Germany.”

“Harun Farocki was a political media thinker who made use of filmic means,” reports Andreas Ströhl, head of the cultural department of the Goethe-Institut and long-time director of the Munich Film Festival. For example, as a student, Farocki was expelled from the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin for political insubordination, yet nonetheless consistently continued on his pathway. In films such as “Before Your Eyes – Vietnam,” “Schlagworte – Schlagbilder: Ein Gespräch mit Vilém Flusser,” and “Images of the World and the Inscription of War” he explored the complex correlations between images, words and technology.

“In spite of his political and media theory involvement, he never lost his sense of humour or self-deprecation,” remembers Ströhl. One unforgettable incident was when Farocki once loudly chanted “For good, against evil!” on the fringes of the Duisburg Filmtage while leading a band of merry documentary makers to a final drink.

As the mentor and co-writer of Christian Petzold, Farocki also rendered great services to German feature films. His work increasingly blurred the boundaries between film and installation. His last major project Labour in a Single Shot was a co-production spanning 15 cities on five continents by Harun Farocki, Antje Ehmann and the Goethe-Institut. “We mourn for the great man, Harun Farocki,” said Johannes Ebert, “but are happy that we were able to carry out this major project with him. We will complete it with the scheduled exhibitions in Essen, Boston and Berlin. It is what Farocki would have wanted. We will miss him sorely at these presentations and long thereafter.”