Essay Film Festival 2017:
Thinking Cinema on Television
Sessions # 2, 6 & 7
Thinking Cinema on Television: Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), ca. 1975
Contemporary discussions tend to advocate the idea that the “video essay” was born from the felicitous encounter of platforms like YouTube, social media, cinephilia 2.0, inexpensive DIY editing software, and the accessibility of films as data. If a historical (proto-digital) perspective is taken into account, it either conjures up established essayistic masters like Jean-Luc Godard or Chris Marker, or tries to ennoble the genre as the legitimate successor of the found footage tradition in experimental cinema.
However, there are other, less glamorous sites where an investigation of cinema by its own means was pursued with enthusiasm and inventiveness. One important center of activity was the film department of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) in Cologne. Starting around 1970, commissioning editors like Wilfried Reichart, Werner Dütsch, Angelika Wittlich, Helmut Merker, and Georg Alexander produced and commissioned a variety of different productions that devised ways of combining images and sounds to address the aesthetics and history of cinema. Using their production budget to run the film department like a cinémathèque, they organised retrospectives and accompanied them with analytic and contextual programs directed, among others, by Hartmut Bitomsky, Harun Farocki, Helmut Färber, Frieda Grafe, Martina Müller, Enno Patalas.
“Thinking Cinema on Television”, curated and presented by Volker Pantenburg, shows a small selection of three productions from 1975, broadcast in October, November and December of this year, combined with a program by commissioning editor Werner Dütsch and two short films by Peter Nestler. Looking at the WDR productions allows a glimpse at a network of individuals, alliances (like the close link between WDR and the journal FILMKRITIK) and intellectual labour.
Session #2: 25.03.2017 1.00PM
Session #6: 27.03.2017 6.30PM
Session #7: 27.03.2017 8.30PM
Volker Pantenburg is professor for Film Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. He has published widely on essayistic film and video practices, experimental cinema, and contemporary moving image installations. Recent book publications include: Farocki/Godard. Film as Theory (Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP 2015); Cinematographic Objects. Things and Operations (Berlin: August 2015, Editor); and Screen Dynamics. Mapping the Borders of Cinema (Vienna: Austrian Film Museum 2012; Co-Editor). In 2015, he co-founded the “Harun Farocki Institut,” a non-profit organisation designed as a platform for researching Farocki’s visual and discursive practice and supporting new projects that engage with the past, present and the future of image cultures.
In collaboration with the Essay Film Festival, and with special thanks to Christhart Burgmann, Martin Brady, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Werner Dütsch, Antje Ehmann, Ingemo Engström, Rainer Gansera, Joanna von Graefe, Anke Hahn, Annelen Kranefuss, Peter Nestler, Matthias Rajmann, Karin Rausch, Felicitas Rohrmoser, Catrina Schwendener, Birol Teke, Klaus Volkmer, and Angelika Wittlich.
With thanks to Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Filmmuseum München, Harun Farocki GbR, and Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)