Essay Film Festival 2018: Session 14
As part of this year’s Essay Film Festival film theorist and historian Thomas Elsaesser will present his debut film - an essayistic portrait of his grandparents, Martin and Liesel Elsaesser, drawing on home movies, personal correspondence, and contemporary interviews.
The Sun Island (Die Sonneninsel) documents the life and professional career of his grandfather, Martin Elsaesser (1884-1957), who was architect and chief city planner in Frankfurt from 1925 to 1932. The recent and controversial acquisition of the latter’s landmark building, the Frankfurt Central Market, by the European Central Bank as the site of their new headquarters, allows the film to draw attention to the importance of Martin Elsaesser’s place in the city’s architectural history, and to the neglect of his legacy.
But the film also revolves around Martin’s private life, and notably his wife Liesel’s long-standing liaison with landscape architect Leberecht Migge. Home movies and photographs are combined with personal letters and contemporary interviews to create an intimate portrait of these relationships, and of the protagonists’ collective attempt to create a self-sufficient utopia on Sun Island during the crucial years between the Weimar Republic and World War Two.
The screening will be followed by a conversation between Thomas Elsaesser and Erica Carter, King’s College London.
Germany, 2017, Digital/Blu-Ray, 72 minutes, English and German
Directed by Thomas Elsaesser
Supported by the Goethe-Institut London and the German Screen Studies Network.
The Essay Film Festival
takes place at various venues in London from Wednesday, 21 to Thursday, 29 March 2018.