Prod.: Éclair. 35mm. L.: 166 m. D.: 7’ a 21 f/s. Bn

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

1921 is the first year in our series A Hundred Years Ago in which films of the classical avant-garde comprise part of our selection. The term avant-garde was probably first applied in film circles in the 1920s in France, Germany and other countries in Western Europe to describe films and filmmakers in opposition to commercial cinema. When we speak of the avant-garde in film today, we refer to the 1920s as the classical period. The strand of avant-gardist movies from 1921 already features some of the most famous protagonists of this movement, such as Ruttmann and Richter. Both artists will be ‘fore-guards’ in avant-garde and experimental filmmaking for years to come. Another groundbreaking work from 1921 is the short documentary film Manhatta by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, considered to be the first American avant-garde film by many scholars. It can also be seen as a precursor of the famous feature-length city portraits (eg Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov) by avant-garde filmmakers, which will pop up at the end of the 1920s.
Alongside films from this new genre we show ‘usual suspects’ in this section such as a travelogue from North Africa and a colonial film from Congo. Both films demonstrate the inability of most filmmakers to meet a foreign culture in an appropriate manner, while offering gorgeous cinematographic shots from African landscapes, an important raison d’être of the genre. A Movie Trip Through Filmland and Les Coulisses du cinéma focus on the world of cinema: the first on the production of film material at the Kodak factory in Rochester and the second on the life of film stars in Hollywood.

Karl Wratschko

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