Formal Subversions: Films from Cologne, Germany
September 6, 2016 (Tue) - 7:00pm, Coolidge Corner Theatre


Buoyed in part by the Academy of Media Arts (Kunsthochschule für Medien, or KHM), Cologne has become an epicenter of experimental film and video within Germany. This program, organized in collaboration with Cologne-based filmmakers Lina Sieckmann and Miriam Gossing, presents nine works from the Cologne/Bonn region viewed through the lens of “formal subversion”. All included works somehow undermine basic elements of their form, structure, or the medium itself to reveal unforeseen creative potentials .

A number of these works utilize appropriated footage and sound, obfuscating or transforming the original intent of the material, at times into something wholeheartedly introspective. Matthias Müller, who teaches at KHM, is a well-regarded master of this (along with his working partner Christoph Girardet), and his influence can be seen in the works of many of his students. In "Listen, Try Not to Dwell on that Idea, Please..." by Benjamin Ramírez Pérez, a single line from Antonioni's  "L‘Avventura" (which gives this piece its title) is repeated ad nauseam over re-enacted shots from the same film, deconstructing its implicit ideas of gender, identity, and desire.

"Weltenempfänger", from 1985, was created by the Bonn-based collective Schmelzdahin (translating roughly to "melt away"). True to their name, Schmelzdahin (including member Jürgen Reble, who went onto to later independent renown) were known for their films which, through methods of chemical manipulation, disrupted the physical integrity of the actual film material, turning bland commercial or educational media into grotesquely beautiful distortions of their former existence.

The ultimate film in the program, "Ocean Hill Drive" by Sieckmann and Gossing, can be looked at not just as a formal subversion, but rather, as an example of subversive formalism. Shot in Kingston, MA, it is a documentary masquerading as a B-grade thriller. It's dry, melodramatic narration, culled from interviews with various local residents, consciously evades the somewhat mundane reality of the residents' situation, lending a much more ominous tone to their grievances. The unnamed specter of their distress looms, ever-present, in the background.

"Ocean Hill Drive" recently won best film in the NRW competition at Oberhausen. This is the North-American premiere of the film, with Sieckmann, Gossing, and Gorinski (who worked on the sound) in attendance.

This program was made possible with support from the Goethe-Institut Boston.


Stick It, Stefan Ramirez Perez, 04:39, video

Weltenempfänger, Schmelzdahin, 05:00, 16mm

John's Desire, Henning Frederik Malz, 04:35, video

Meteor, Christoph Girardet and Matthias Müller, 14:15, 35mm

Listen, try not to dwell on that idea, please…, Benjamin Ramírez Pérez, 06:00, Super 8

Time in Rhythm, Tim Gorinski, 13:00, video

Nipkow TV, Christian Hossner, 06:50, 16mm

Hidden Star, Peter Conrad Beyer, 09:43, 16mm

Ocean Hill Drive, Lina Sieckmann and Miriam Gossing, 20:50, DCP

Total Runtime: