Film, Talks & Discussions Skip Norman Study Day including programmes 3 & 4

Face of a woman against a black background © Academy Film Archive

Sat, 20.05.2023

12:00 PM

Including series programmes 3 and 4, the Skip Norman: Here and There Study-Day will situate Norman’s practice and work in its specific context, inviting reflections on his academic output and his significant, career-spanning work as a photographer, while tracing echoes of his work in a younger generation of artists and filmmakers. 

Please find a schedule and information on programmes 3 and 4 below. If you cannot come for the whole day, please try to arrive at the beginning of the different programme section

Guest introduction by Alexandra Symons-Sutcliffe

13:30 – 14:00    BREAK

14:00 – 16:00    PRESENTATIONS
14:00 – 14:45    Alias Skip Norman (Jesse Cumming)
In this illustrated curator’s talk Jesse Cumming will share some of the research background behind the works in Skip Norman: Here and There.

14:45 – 15:15    Is My Living in Vain (Ufuoma Essi)
In response to Norman’s film practice and his doctoral dissertation, artist Ufuoma Essi willl present an excerpt from her recent project Is My Living in Vain.  
15:15 – 15:25    MINI-BREAK
15:25 – 16:00    Keeping the Fire Burning (İsmail Gökçe, via Zoom)
A close friend and former mentee, photographer İsmail Gökçe will share a personal, guided  tour through Norman’s career-spanning work in the still image.
Followed by discussion with Mirra Bank

Programme 3 – Collaborations (12:00 – 13:30)

The students accepted alongside Skip Norman as part of the inaugural DFFB cohort in 1966 include some of West Germany’s most notable post-war political filmmakers, including Harun Farocki, Helke Sander, Hartmut Bitomsky, and later Red Army Faction radical Holger Meins. Deeply collaborative in nature, with a political alignment that extended from the classroom to the streets, the work the cohort produced rallied against the injustices they saw around them, as well as against a German citizenry seemingly unconcerned with the status quo. Just as his peers and classmates supported Norman on his own productions – including Meins as Cinematographer and Gerd Conradt as Assistant Cinematographer on Riffi – in these films Norman contributed his own talent and vision as a cameraman to the work of his colleagues.

The films in this programme evidence a shared commitment to both political radicalism and formal experimentation coursing through the work of the cohort. The selections range from the feminist cri de coeur of Helke Sander’s Subjectitude to the anti-Vietnam war censure of Harun Farocki’s White Christmas, to the urgent but little-seen Berlin - 2. Juni 67  by Thomas Giefer and Hans-Rüdiger Minow, capturing that day’s mass protests against Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi Shahansha’s visit to West Berlin, which culminated in the epoch-defining shooting of student Benno Ohnesorg.

Subjectitüde [Subjektitüde]
Helke Sander, 1966, West Germany, German, 4 min
Assistant Director of Photography: Skip Norman

Helke Sander, 1967, West Germany, German, 11 min      
Assistant Director of Photography: Skip Norman    

White Christmas      
Harun Farocki, 1968, West Germany, German, 3 min
Director of Photography: Skip Norman

Their Newspapers [Ihre Zeitungen]          
Harun Farocki, 1968, West Germany, German, 17 min
Director of Photography: Skip Norman

Berlin - 2. Juni 67                
Thomas Giefer & Hans-Rüdiger Minow, 1967, West Germany, German, 45 min 
Director of Photography: Skip Norman


With an introduction by Alexandra Symons-Sutcliffe.

CONTENT WARNING: Graphic war footage, police violence, discussions of domestic abuse

All films courtesy of the Deutsche Kinemathek


Programme 4 - The American Years 1 (16:30 – 17:30)

In the mid 1980s New York filmmaker Mirra Bank collaborated with the legendary American poet and musician Nikki Giovanni on the experimental (auto)-portrait Spirit to Spirit. Structured around footage of Giovanni alone in a soundstage, she commands the Skip Norman-helmed camera as she details moments from her childhood, her experience of the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and more, including her thoughts on the art of poetry. Interwoven throughout – alongside expertly deployed archival material – Giovanni recites some of her most acclaimed compositions, including “Nikki-Rosa” and "Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day", each revealing the artist’s superlative command of language and protean approach to form, one that moves effortlessly from the coy, to the incensed, to the sorrowful – at times within the same work. The skill she displays in her craft is here mirrored in Norman’s subtle approach to light and colour, which elevates Giovanni’s one-of-a-kind wit and charisma to the level of a silver screen icon. 

Spirit to Spirit: Nikki Giovanni
Mirra Bank, 1986, USA, English, 29 min
Director of Photography: Skip Norman, Producers: Mirra Bank & Perrin Ireland 


Followed by a conversation with Mirra Bank.

Presentation of the 4K Restoration courtesy of Mirra Bank, the Academy Film Archives, and The Women's Film Preservation Fund, with support from the Leon Levy Foundation.