Essay Film Festival Session 6
In collaboration with the Essay Film Festival 2019, we are pleased to present the first UK retrospective dedicated to the Austrian film director and historian Günter Peter Straschek (1942–2009) in a two-part programme. Part One (Essay Film Festival Sesson 6) will present his radical short films made between 1966 and 1970 combined with two works by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. Straschek’s seminal five-part series Film Emigration from Nazi Germany (1975) made for German television will form the second part of this overview and will be shown on 1 April at the Birkbeck Cinema and the Goethe-Institut. All screenings are part of the Essay Film Festival.
Günter Peter Straschek’s first short films are inseparable from the early history of the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB) and its politicisation. Together with 33 other students, including Harun Farocki, Hartmut Bitomsky, Holger Meins, Gerry Schum and Helke Sander, Straschek (1942-2009) belonged to the first generation of students at the newly founded academy. His stay at DFFB was short, the dispute over his film Ein Western für den SDS
(A Western for the SDS)
resulted in his definitive expulsion in February 1968 and the mysterious disappearance of the film print. “At any rate,” Straschek said in retrospect, “the whole rigmarole was for me less a ‘coming to consciousness’ than the belated climax of a carefree youth that was now drawing to a close, a last chance to sow my wild oats.”
The session will open with a talk by film historian Volker Pantenburg entitled "A last chance to sow my wild oats – Günter Peter Straschek at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB)
", in which he will discuss Straschek's early films and shed light on the film school context.
Joining the post-screening discussion will be Julia Friedrich, curator of the exhibition "Günter Peter Straschek: Emigration-Film-Politics" (Museum Ludwig, Cologne 2018), and Karin Rausch (tbc), Straschek's widow, who worked together with him on Film Emigration from Nazi Germany
Straschek’s first film, Hooray for Mrs. E
., is a sober portrait of a mother who supplements her welfare income with prostitution.
Hurra für Frau E.
, Hooray for Mrs. E
., Dir. Günter Peter Straschek, West Germany, 1966, 16mm/Digital, b&w, 7 mins., German with English subtitles.
Huillet and Straub’s short film, The Bridegroom, the Actress and the Pimp
, shares concerns with Hooray for Mrs. E
., in that it is also a film that reflects on the position of women in postwar Germany. The film is constructed in three sequences: a tracking shot through the streets of Munich at night, a staging of a play by Ferdinand Bruckner, and a related love story shot as a film noir.
Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter
, The Bridegroom, the Actress and the Pimp
, Dirs. Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, West Germany, 1968, 35mm/DCP, b&w, 23 min., German with English subtitles.
A Western for the SDS
, which led to Straschek being expelled from the German Film and Television Academy, portrays the development of the Left as a learning process among women who sharpen their awareness in the movement but continue to have no say.
Ein Western für den SDS
, A Western for the SDS
, Dir. Günter Peter Straschek, West Germany, 1967–68, 16mm/Digital, b&w, 23 min., German with English subtitles.
Straschek’s On the Concept of ‘Critical Communism’ in Antonio Labriola
addresses the chasm between workers and intellectuals and describes the “difficulties of the revolution” (Labriola) with a sharp sense of humour., German with English subtitles.
Zum Begriff des ‘Kritischen Kommunismus’ bei Antonio Labriola (1843–1904)
, On the Concept of ‘Critical Communism’ in Antonio Labriola (1843–1904)
, Dir. Günter Peter Straschek, West Germany, 1970, 16mm/Digital, b&w, 18 min.
Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene’
(featuring Straschek) is Straub and Huillet’s fierce condemnation of the horrors of war and capitalism connecting the rise of fascism to imperialism, the role of Germany and the war in Vietnam, through the words of Schoenberg written in 1923 and Bertolt Brecht’s 1935 speech to the International Congress in Defence of Culture.
Einleitung zu Arnold Schoenbergs Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene
, Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene’
, Dirs. Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, West Germany, 1972, 16mm/Digital, b&w, 15 min., German with English subtitles.
Günter Peter Straschek, Part 2: Film Emigration from Nazi Germany (1975) will be shown on 1 April at Birkbeck Cinema and the Goethe-Institut.
Presented as part of The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet