Curated by Karl Wratschko in collaboration with Cinémathèque16, INEDITS & Lichtspiel/Kinemathek Bern

This year we present a rough guide to the development and usage of colours in small-gauge filmmaking. The journey starts with a tinted 16mm vintage print from the 1920s (Lucretia Lombard by Jack Conway) and continues to the 1930s with amateur films. Thanks to lenticular colour motion-picture processes such as Kodacolor and monopack multilayer films such as Kodachrome, colour became surprisingly more common in small-gauge amateur cinema, compared to commercial films made in 35mm. After the Second World War the transformation to almost exclusively making films in colour still took more than two decades. During this period small-gauge colour was still used extensively by amateur filmmakers, and colour film stock became very popular for promotional and industrial films. Technicolor also tried to promote these activities by producing the commercial Technicolor for Industrial Films in 1949. The Technicolor promotional film will be screened along with Giuseppina (1960) by British filmmaker James Hill, both to be projected in 16mm vintage prints reduced from 35mm.
During the 1960s, when colour film was still not a widespread phenomenon, music clips in colour shown in bars, the so-called Scopitones, were a huge success (we also present this year forerunners of the Scopitones, which were still produced in black and white). From the 1970s onwards, colour in film had become an everyday phenomenon and no longer could grab the attention of spectators as it did before.
German film theorist Frieda Grafe went so far as saying that people had stopped noticing colours altogheter, because they had become so ordinary. This might be one of the explanations why more and more innovative filmmakers like Bill Brand, Arthur and Corinne Cantrill and Christian Lebrant started to experiment with the possibilities of film colour to make them visible again. Their 16mm films started to challenge the spectator’s colour perception in the extreme and invited them to look behind the facades of colour production. Furthermore, the camp aesthetic in underground filmmaking would be unthinkable without colour. For proof, we will screen Pink Narcissus (1971) by James Bidgood, a film shot on 8mm and 16mm colour stock and the perfect example of a film with this unique style.
If you wonder why Lucretia Lombard is again in the catalogue this year, it is because last year we were not able to project the film. In the meantime we have solved some technical issues and a screening of the unique 16mm print from the 1920s with real tinting will eventually take place.

Karl Wratschko