Garage Museum of Contemporary Art presents «How are You in the West?»—a program of screenings focusing on New German Cinema.
This series of screenings is timed to coincide with German artist Thomas Demand’s exhibition at Garage, Mirror Without Memory, which features video works by one of the key ideologists of New German Cinema, the director and writer Alexander Kluge. It also coincides with the Museum’s publication in Russian translation of Kluge’s book Russia-Container.
From 1962, when the famous Oberhausen Manifesto was signed, through the 1980s, West Germany saw the development of a new genre that would change world cinema forever. This panorama of New German Cinema, compiled by Garage Screen curator Evgeny Gusyatinsky and invited curator Mikhail Zakharov, comprises six films. The emphasis is on debuts, as they often imply bold experimentation and vanguard forms. The debut films in the program include Yesterday Girls by Alexander Kluge (1966), Under the Pavement Lies the Strand by Helma Sanders-Brahms (1975), and The All-Round Reduced Personality by Helke Sander (1978). These low-budget black-and-white features using a wide range of Brechtian techniques, such as documentary fragments, narrator’s voiceovers, and sardonic humor, to question the conventions of cinematic language and the social reality that surrounds the protagonists.
New German Cinema’s secret classic, Sohrab Shahid Saless’ Coming of Age (1976), his first film after fleeing Iran due to a conflict with the authorities, and Ticket of No Return (1979) by German camp queen Ulrike Ottinger, which is the opening part of her «Berlin» trilogy, are also debuts in a sense. The screening of the newly restored three-hour-long drama Palermo or Wolfsburg (1980), which earned Werner Schroeter the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, will be a very special event. In this film the German director moved away from the baroque excesses of his opera-inspired experimental 1970s works toward a more balanced and socially oriented cinema.
The curators of the program made a conscious decision to exclude works by the pillars of New German Cinema—Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, and Werner Herzog—in favor of lesser-known filmmakers.
Considered separately and also in comparison with each other, the films in the program illuminate the formal and social issues that concerned the New German Cinema directors, providing alternative—feminine, queer, and migrant—perspectives on the era that followed the West German economic miracle.
The screenings will include commentary by critics, who will shed light on the hidden and unique qualities of New German Cinema as a movement. Film critic and historian Mikhail Ratgauz will give an introductory lecture before the screening of Alexander Kluge’s Yesterday Girls. German cinema researcher Peter Rempel will introduce Ulrike Ottinger’s Ticket of No Return. After the screening of Sanders-Brahms’ film there will be a discussion on female bodily autonomy with film critic Anna Melikova, and before the screening of Sanders’ film invited speakers will discuss the precarious labor of female artists. The program will conclude with a new recording of the Pokaligarim podcast on German cinema, in which the hosts will discuss Alexander Kluge’s work.