Rebellious Poets and Radical Spirits: Indian Parallel Cinema

The story of Parallel Cinema has never fully been told. When Arun Kaul and Mrinal Sen published their film manifesto in 1968 calling for a new cinema, an unprecedented burst of creativity captured the imagination of a generation of filmmakers and transformed the provincial aesthetic and thematic landscape of Indian cinema for ever. The following year, the Film Finance Corporation, originally set up by the state to help filmmakers, broke new ground by financing some highly original films. Parallel Cinema’s moment had been coming for a long time. It was a moment that arrived after the death of Nehru, in an India full of uncertainty and forged in a radical socio-political space in which it was possible to agitate for something alternative and oppositional. Parallel Cinema was regional in character with Karnataka, Bengal and Kerala at the forefront of innovation. Since many of the films have rarely been screened outside of India – from the works of two poets such as Govindan Aravindan and Kumar Shahani to the discovery of the precious original negative of Uski Roti by Mani Kaul – this strand aims at reclaiming Parallel Cinema as one of the most sustained, iconoclastic and overlooked film stories of the past 50 years.
Curated by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, Cecilia Cenciarelli and Omar Ahmed

Rebellious Poets and Radical Spirits: Indian Parallel Cinema

Against All Flags: Wolfgang Staudte

Wolfgang Staudte is arguably the lone postwar director whose work was important for the film cultures of both the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. And yet, his massive œuvre created for cinema and television remains conspicuously obscure outside Germany, with the possible exception of The Murderers Are Among Us (Die Mörder sind unter uns, 1946), the first film produced in occupied Germany after the end of WWII. While back home (if that’s the right word for someone so existentially at odds with his country of birth) discussions of Staudte’s art and merits often get reduced to its political importance as the Bonn Republic’s lone movie moralist who with films like Kirmes (1960), Heimlichkeiten (1968) or Yesterday’s Tomorrow (Zwischengleis, 1978) desperately fought against all that wilful white-washing, ignoring, forgetting and finally burying of the nation’s nasty Nazi past (and not so crypto presence). This short-changes Staudte the master craftsman, who with the same ease could direct an oriental fantasy fairytale film like Die Geschichte vom kleinen Muck (1953), a melodrama with a feminist undertow, Rose Bernd (1957), or a symbol-dense, religious coming-of-age story like Das Lamm (1964). This small tribute offers a first glimpse at one of the richest bodies of work in postwar European cinema and television.
Curated by Olaf Möller

Against All Flags: Wolfgang Staudte

Cinemalibero: Feminine, Plural

Conceived as a programme that aims at ‘widening spaces’, this year’s Cinemalibero looks at the debut films of ten female pioneer directors who escape all easy classifications, stand apart from the traditionally defined modes of filmmaking, stay independent of the programmatic manifestos such as that of Tercer Cine, and even defy strict formulations of feminism. Without any claim for completeness, our narrative is about that exhilarating moment when some precise historical, cultural and private components came together and led the ten filmmakers in question to get hold of raw film stock, position themselves behind a camera and tell their stories. Our journey starts in Angola, with a long-awaited restoration that took over three years to see the light: the masterfully rendered Sambizanga by Sarah Maldoror. From there we continue to Cuba and Senegal, passing through Venezuela, Hungary, Bulgaria, Algeria, Portugal and Poland among other fertile lands of female cinema.
Curated by Cecilia Cenciarelli and Elena Correra

Cinemalibero: Feminine, Plural

The Real Japan: The Documentaries of Iwanami Productions

Established in 1950 as a unit of the celebrated Iwanami Shoten publishing house, Iwanami Productions became what scholar Markus Nornes describes as “the epicentre for what would be a shake-up of the Japanese documentary world.” Founded to craft educational and promotional films, the company ended up transforming the conventions of Japanese documentary filmmaking, pioneering a style characterised by quiet, non-judgemental observation and a determination to capture life in all its messy spontaneity. Iwanami documentaries encompassed topics ranging from Japan’s historical and artistic heritage to local politics to the behaviour of schoolchildren. The company fostered the careers of Sumiko Haneda, one of Japan’s outstanding documentarians and the first woman to sustain a genuine lifelong career as a film director in Japan, and of such important fiction filmmakers as Susumu Hani and Kazuo Kuroki – the former’s features, in particular, bear clear traces of the patient realism of his work for Iwanami. This survey offers the opportunity to encounter a set of films both admirable in their own right, and of lasting impact on Japanese cinema.
Curated by Alexander Jacoby and Johan Nordström
In collaboration with Istituto Giapponese di Cultura

The Real Japan: The Documentaries of Iwanami Productions