Comes the Revolution: The Berlinale Forum at 50
DetailsLanguage: In various languages with English subtitles
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The German Film Office and Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art present a showcase of the Berlinale Forum’s 50th anniversary program with curated film selections by The Museum of Modern Art. The films will be available on demand December 14-20 to viewers across the United States. The panel discussion Radical Cinema, Then and Now will take place December 18, 2:00pm EST and will be accessible worldwide.
One of the world’s premier showcases of radical cinema both in form and content, the International Forum of Young Film (later: Berlinale Forum) celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020. The selection of six programs, drawn by The Museum of Modern Art from a more extensive series that took place at Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin earlier this year, presents work made between 1969 and 1971 that premiered in the first edition of the Forum. Filmmakers as subversive as Chris Marker, Sarah Maldoror, Rosa von Praunheim, and Helke Sander did not shy from confronting the social, political and economic upheavals that were then giving rise to revolutionary movements around the world, whether Black Power or African independence, second-generation feminism, gay liberation, or workers’ rights. Now, a half century later, we can contemplate their successes and failures in finding a filmic language to express these seismic shifts on the ground – in streets, factories, universities, and bedrooms – and perhaps find a renewed urgency and inspiration in their collective ongoing struggle.
Curated by Josh Siegel, The Museum of Modern Art
Programs 1 and 2: Black Liberation
Yolande du Luart, Angela, Portrait of A Revolutionary (1971, USA/France, 1971, 60 min)
William Klein, Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther (1970, Algeria/France, 75 min)
Program 3: African Independence
Med Hondo, Mes voisins (1971, France, 35 min)
Sarah Maldoror, Monangambee (1969, Algeria, 16 min)
Members of the Pan Africanist Congress, Phela-ndaba (End of the Dialogue) (1970, South Africa, 45 min)
Program 4: Women’s Liberation
Helke Sander, Eine Prämie für Irene (Bonus for Irene) (1971, West Germany, 50 min)
Program 5: Gay Liberation
Rosa von Praunheim, Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt (1971, West Germany, 67 min)
Program 6: Workers’ Rights
Hartmut Bitomsky, Harun Farocki, Eine Sache, die sich versteht (15x) (Something Self Explanatory (15x)) (1971, West Germany, 64 min)
Chris Marker, On vous parle de Paris: Maspero, les mots ont un sens (Calling from Paris: Maspero. Words Have a Meaning) (1970, France, 20 min)
Groupe Medvedkine Sochaux, Les trois-quarts de la vie (Three Quarters of a Life) (1971, France, 18 min)
MORE ABOUT THE FILMS:
Yolande du Luart, Angela: Portrait of a Revolutionary
On August 18, 1970, Angela Davis was named to the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list for her alleged involvement in the armed takeover of a federal courthouse in which four people were killed. Filmed during a period of high tension by Davis’s philosophy students at UCLA, this documentary portrait captures the radical thinker and activist at her most “dangerously subversive,” a woman who through her words and deeds sowed deep hostility toward American imperialist interests in Vietnam, Africa, and Latin America, and who battled rampant sexism within the Black Power movement even as she fought – and continues to fight – systemic racism, sexism, and class exploitation both at home and abroad.
William Klein, Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther
An American expatriate in Paris, William Klein collaborated with the journalist Robert Scheer on this measured profile of Eldridge Cleaver, the Black Panther leader who in 1968 fled murder charges in the US by taking asylum in more-than-obliging Cuba, Mexico, France, and Algeria. As Cleaver meets with Pan African nationalists and Vietnamese freedom fighters, and reflects on the future of the black liberation movement and his own exiled role within it, he becomes a study in complexity and contradiction.
Med Hondo, Mes voisins (My Neighbors)
The fiercely independent Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo, who died last year, made this short film in 1971 as a prelude to his revolutionary debut feature Soleil Ô, interviewing African migrants in Paris about the racial hardships they face in finding jobs, homes, and acceptance.
Sarah Maldoror, Monangambee
A French filmmaker of West Indian descent, Sarah Maldoror dedicated herself to a radical mode of anticolonial cinema – much like Med Hondo – before her death from COVID-19 earlier this year. Maldoror cast amateur actors in Algeria in this adaptation of a novella by the dissident Angolan writer José Luandino Vieira, assuming the feminist perspective of a poor black woman who attempts to visit her husband, a political prisoner, in a miserable jail on the outskirts of the capital Luanda.
Members of the Pan-Africanist Congress, Phela-ndaba (End of the Dialogue)
Bearing witness to the crimes of Apartheid from a distinctly personal viewpoint, expatriate black South African members of the Pan-Africanist Congress (Antonia Caccia, Chris Curling, Simon Louvish, Nelson 'Nana' Mahomo, Vus Make and Rakhetla Tsehlana) shot this film clandestinely in South Africa and smuggled it to Great Britain for international release. To shocked audiences worldwide, they made visible and incontrovertible a brutal and totalizing system of racial oppression and persecution, their film culminating in a harrowing roll call of victims of state-led imprisonment, torture, and murder.
Helke Sander, Eine Prämie für Irene (Bonus for Irene)
Helke Sander staked her claim within the New German Cinema and second generation feminism with this devilishly brilliant satire of rampant and unrepentant sexism at home and work. In addition to writing and directing she stars as Irene, the defiant single mother who galvanizes her female assembly-line colleagues at a washing-machine factory into standing up against all forms of harassment and surveillance.
Rosa von Praunheim, Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt (It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society In Which He Lives)
“Two years after the Stonewall riots, Rosa von Praunheim nearly ignited another queer intifada with his first feature, It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971). A Brechtian soap opera with endlessly quotable narration, It Is Not savages gay-male self-destruction and the pathological need to fit into bourgeois culture: ‘Faggots don’t want to be faggots. They don’t want to be different. They live in a dream world of glossy magazines and Hollywood movies,’ intones the first of several increasingly hysterical, thickly Teutonic voices, before this utopian call-to-arms is sounded: ‘Let’s work together with the blacks and women’s liberation. Get involved politically. Being gay is not a career’” (Melissa Anderson, The Village Voice).
Hartmut Bitomsky, Harun Farocki, Eine Sache, die sich versteht (15x) (Something Self Explanatory (15x))
While filmmakers like Godard and Gorin in France and Bertolucci and Pasolini in Italy were reveling in their own brands of Marxist cinema, Bitomsky and Farocki in West Germany set out to define the very form and meaning of Marxist cinema with this crash course in 15 clever and deceptively simple lessons, playing out ideas of commodity, labor, and exchange and use value in humorously staged vignettes.
Chris Marker, On vous parle de Paris: Maspero, les mots ont un sens (Calling from Paris: Maspero. Words Have a Meaning)
The role of the public intellectual in society, free press, and revolutionary politics has long vexed the great thinkers of France, from Voltaire and Rousseau to Camus and de Beauvoir. In this episode of his series On vous parle de Paris, Chris Marker limns the fragile line between leftist journalism and radical activism, creating a compelling portrait of François Maspero, the controversial reporter and publisher of Fritz Fanon’s censored The Wretched of the Earth, the writings of Che Guevara, and other indictments of colonialism and Western democracy.
Groupe Medvedkine Sochaux, Les trois-quarts de la vie (Three Quarters of a Life)
The fantasy of a true Workers’ Cinema, the realization of a Soviet ideal of putting cameras directly into the hands of honest, untutored, and unfettered proletariats, took on renewed currency amid the violent economic, political, and social upheavals of late 1960s France. Taking its name from one of Chris Marker’s favorite Soviet filmmakers, Aleksandr Medvedkin, who brought Film Truth to the masses with his locomotive cinema, the Groupe Medvedkine Sochaux united documentarians and militant unionists from a local Peugeot factory in a collective cri de coeur against capitalist exploitation.