Films / Documents: Huillet-Straub at work

Films / Documents: Huillet-Straub at work © Courtesy of Cinemateca Portuguesa–Museu do Cinema

Sat, 25.05.2019

10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Goethe-Institut London

This day of screenings organised in collaboration with the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image will include audio-visual documents relating to different periods of the filmmakers' filmography as well as reprises of films shown during the retrospective and moments of informal discussion. We are very pleased to once more welcome Barbara Ulrich, close collaborator of Huillet and Straub, who will bring a recently re-discovered work by the filmmakers.

The morning will start with a listening / reading moment, with the radio play version of the film Schwarze Sünde (Black Sin), broadcasted in May 1985 on German (at the ARD). This will be followed by an excerpt selected from the video Schwarze Sünde – Dreharbeiten auf dem Ätna (Black Sin – Shoot on Mount Etna), filmed by cinematographer William Lubtchansky. Then we will present the video documentation of a very engaged discussion with Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub held in 1987 at the at the University of Geneva following a screening of Der Tod des Empedokles (The Death Of Empedocles).
The afternoon session will open with the screening of the 35mm print of Schwarze Sünde (Black Sin), Huillet and Straub’s film based on the third version of Hölderlin's mourning-play Der Tod des Empedokles followed by Barbara Ulrich presenting the recently the filmmakers’ rediscovered and rarely screened film Hommage à Vernon, made from outtakes of the film. The afternoon will continue with a further selection of films, excerpts and discussions, including Manfred Blank's Wie will ich lustig lachen (How Merrily I Shall Laugh), a long interview with the filmmakers about the Klassenverhältnisse (Class Relations), and a screening of Straub's video Schakale und Araber (Jackals and Arabs), based on an Kafka's short story if the same titles. The afternoon concludes with a screening of Jean-Claude Rousseau's Une Vie Risquée, a short film capturing a moment in the making of the ciné-tract Europa 2007, 27 Octobre and Peter Nestler’s tribute film Verteidigung der Zeit (In Defense of Time).

Some notes about the schedule:

At 10am sharp we will start with the audio play version of Schwarze Sünde. The play is around 40 minutes long and is in German. We will provide the subtitles to read while we listen to the play. There will be a lunch break between ca 12.15hrs and 12.55hrs. (Please make your own provisions for lunch. Hopefully the weather is nice and you can sit on the terrace. With your Eventbrite ticket you get a 10% discount at the Café Berlin next to the Goethe-Institut.) At 1pm sharp we will start with the screening of Schwarze Sünde (Black Sin). There will be a short coffee break during the afternoon session, which will end at around 5pm.
Some of the films and documents which will screen during the day:
Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at the University of Geneva following a screening of The Death of Empedocles (1987). With: François Albera (off), Jean-Marie Straub, Bernard Böschenstein, Balthazar, Danièle Huillet, Alessandra Lukinovitch (off), and some of the 700 audience members (off). Production: École Supérieure d’Art Visuel, Geneva; Cinema/Video Workshop of François Albera.Camera by Pascal Magnin.42 minutes. Subtitles by Sally Shafto. With the kind permission of and thanks to François Albera and also many thanks to Sally Shafto.
Schwarze Sünde, Black Sin, Dirs: Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, West Germany, 1988, 35mm, colour, 42 min., in German with English subtitles.
    Two years after The Death of Empedocles, Straub and Huillet filmed the third version of Hölderlin’s verse drama on a clearing on the foothill of the Etna under the burning sun of Sicily. This film was given the title Black Sin. We find Empedocles, already far from the people and the politics of the city, nearing his self-sacrifice, debating the conflict between the all-nurturing nature and the destructive destroying impetus of civilisation, with his loyal disciple Pausanias and the phantasm of Manes, his former teacher. According to David Farrell Krell, this third version of the tragedy ‘becomes a meditation on the rise and fall of civilisations and historical epochs within “the ferment of time”, not a depiction of the life and death of individuals.’ Straub saw in the text of Hölderlin, ‘the hope, but also the threat that hangs over us.’ Danièle Huillet, sitting on the dark volcanic earth evokes the ‘new world’ embodying this mixed sense of hope and fear. Straub: ‘The Death of Empedokles is, as Jean Narboni said, a Film of Explosion. And the second one, Black Sin, is a Film of Implosion. This is also true for the politics. Politics is no longer in the events, it is in the character of Empedokles, it only remains as a memory, totally internalised.’
Hommage à Vernon, Dirs: Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, West Germany, 1988, 10 min.
Une Vie Risquée, Dir: Jean-Claude Rousseau, France, 2018
    Film capturing a moment in the making of the ciné-tract Europa 2007, 27 Octobre. With thanks to Jean-Claude Rousseau.
Pour Renato, For Renato, Dir: Jean-Marie Straub, France, 2015.
    A sequence of Othon followed by a selection of stills organised as a tribute to cinematographer Renato Berta.
Verteidigung der Zeit, In Defence of Time, Dir: Peter Nestler, Germany, 2007.
    Made for German television not long after Huillet’s death in October 2006, this didactic introduction and portrait of the life and work of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet was directed by their friend, the great documentarian Peter Nestler. It offers insight into some of Straub/Huillet’s essential strongholds: time, love, direct sound, reality, anti-fascism, the “tiger’s leap into the past.”

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Presented as part of The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet