The film programmes of this year’s EMAF will once again provide a broad overview of international experimental filmmaking – from current short and feature-length films to historical works, audiovisual performances and expanded cinema. Numerous artists will be attending the festival in person to present their contributions and discuss them with the audience. There will be 70 films and film performances from a total of 32 countries.
Central to the film programmes is the International Competition. This year, the short and medium-length films thematically focus on the examination of family relationships, intimacy and domesticity, the traumas of displacement and uprooting, and artistic time travel between the past and the future. How does one experience and overcome the reality of state borders and social divisions? What is made possible by solidarity and resistance? How do our memories live on, how do we imagine something new through technology, dreams and ritual?
Video and audio material from the archive of the GDR opposition forms the basis for Anna Zett’s film Es gibt keine Angst (DE 2023). Using a pulsating collage of underground music, poetry, private and journalistic recordings, she embarks on an emotional and intellectual approach to experiences of violence and political self-empowerment. Mangrove School by Filipa César & Sónia Vaz Borges (PT/DE/FR 2022) is part of a long-term artistic research into the history of decolonial resistance in Guinea Bissau and its present afterlife. In atmospherically dense images, the film reconstructs how one lived and learned together in the historical guerrilla schools of the mangrove forests.
In James Richards’ video Qualities of Life: Living in the Radiant Cold (DE 2022), still-life shots of his own and other people’s living spaces, of bodies and infrastructures are combined with fragments taken from musical scores to create an evocative image of a present in a permanent state of suspension. Peng Zuqiang’s Sight Leak (CN 2022) also navigates the border between intimate interior and anonymous exterior spaces. Loosely based on Roland Barthes’ writings on China and their homoerotic subtext, in this work a flâneur moves through public spaces thinking about the gazes and desires that are encountered here, hinted at, denied, and mirrored. In her experimental road movie Selfish Road (UK/DE 2022), Oreet Ashery follows the infrastructures of separation and delusion, memory and connection through a politically fractured landscape.
The four current feature-length films in the programme also convey multi-layered impressions of landscapes in transition, contested geographies and overlapping times. Sophio Medoidze’s documentary feature debut Let Us Flow (GE/UK 2022) observes the changes caused by modernisation and migration processes in the remote Georgian mountain region of Tusheti and the importance of traditional rituals that create collective bonds while also reinforcing social exclusions.
In Schlachthäuser der Moderne (DE 2022), Heinz Emigholz focuses on the work of two South American architects: Francisco Salamone, whose works of the 1930s are committed to the spirit of a fascist-futurist modernism, and Freddy Mamani Silvestre, whose projects radically resist the dictates of Western modernism. Ultimately, they form the background for an interrogation of the Berlin Palace (“Berliner Stadtschloss”) and its position between experiment and restoration.
Artist in Focus: Angela Melitopoulos
This year, EMAF honours the artist Angela Melitopoulos as Artist in Focus. Since the mid-1980s, she has been creating videos, installations and sound works, also in cooperation with other artists, theorists and activist networks. EMAF presents a selection of her works, from early experimental and activist videos to recent documentary films. They portray movements through the landscapes of the Anthropocene (Matrilinear B – Surfacing Earth, 2020), follow the traces of a migration experience perpetuated over generations (Passing Drama, 1999), or illuminate the entanglements of technology, modern subjectivity and animism (The Life of Particles, 2012). In dialogue with Melitopoulos’ work, there will also be films by other artists specially selected by her, including Alain Resnais, Irit Batsry, Joyce Wieland, Helke Sander and the Newsreel Collective.
Expanded Cinema: Spect
At the interface of film and performance, EMAF is carrying out a new, multi-year project in cooperation with the artist collective LaborBerlin. Under the title Spectral: Unburdened Recollections, historical and rarely shown expanded cinema works and film performances will be reconstructed and reperformed at the festival.
Discussions with the participating artists and curators will address how these ephemeral works of art can be preserved and made available now and in the future. This year’s programme opens with two Super 8 performances by Argentinian filmmaker Claudio Caldini (curated by Federico Windhausen) and an expanded 35mm work by Spanish experimental film pioneer José Val del Omar (curated by Esperanza Collado).
Film Programme “Trembling Time“
Another highlight is the six-part film and performance programme curated by Rachael Rakes on the festival theme Trembling Time. Based on the assumption that the idea of a linear progression of time, which to this day determines our thinking and perception, our economic and political actions, is a construct, and one that potentially threatens our very existence, the works in this programme deal with alternative concepts of time and values. On view are films by Minh Quý Trương, Maxime Jean Baptiste, Seba Calfuqueo & Roberto Riveros aka Neo Cristo, Onyeka Igwe, YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES and a performance by Aura Satz, among others.