All Debates and Guests of the Berlin Critics’ Week 2021
Filmmaker Ruth Beckermann and film scholar Volker Pantenburg discuss the idea of cinematic and historical traces and what it means to be exposed to intense images. Festival organizers Pedro Segura and Alexander Scholz meet director Sandra Wollner and sound designer Pascal Capitolin to explore the idea of recognition and cognition and what remains obscure in cinema. Actress Constanze Becker and director Lola Arias will help us understand the idea of acting and play, the politics of illusions and shape-shifting art. In this year’s “Critics’ Debate”, Maggie Lee and Patrick Holzapfel discuss the cinema of Sion Sono and Olivier Godin. Curator Greg de Cuir Jr. and cinematographer Kirsten Johnson discuss with festival programmers Kalpana Nair and Stoffel Debuysere whether and how different ideas of cinema can be brought together in film programs. For our “Lost & Found” discussion, we welcome film critic and editor Amy Taubin to discuss the cinema of enigmas and enigmatic cinema with the filmmakers of the evening. On the closing night, director Jennifer Reeder meets philosopher Rahel Jaeggi to take on nothing less than the question of cinematic style.
This year’s debates and guests in detail
Broadcasts: March 1-7 daily from 8:00 pm on the Berlin Critics’ Week YouTube channel
Monday, March 1
What does it mean to stand and advocate for a cinema that critically engages with the past? Ruth Beckermann is considered one of Austria’s most important voices in film politics and most recently worked on the controversial past of former Austrian president and diplomat Kurt Josef Waldheim with her film WALDHEIMS WALZER. Volker Pantenburg is a co-founder of the Harun Farocki Institute, which is dedicated to the practice of essay film and which the team describes as a “flexible structure for new projects that analyze past, present and future image cultures.” Together with Francina Carbonell (director of THE SKY IS RED) and Suneil Sanzgiri (director of LETTER FROM YOUR FAR-OFF COUNTRY), they will find out what traces are left by history in cinema, by cinema in history, and by images in consciousness.
Moderation: Dennis Vetter
Tuesday, March 2
As part of our festival partnership with the Duisburger Filmwoche and the Black Canvas Contemporary Film Festival, we present a conversation about the limits and chances of cognition and recognition, about the abstract world and the special ability of the camera to discover all that remains hidden to the human eye. Who better to talk about this than Sandra Wollner, director of THE IMPOSSIBLE PICTURE, whose work, according to Bert Rebhandl, explores “the borderlands of technical perception, subjectivity, memory and artificial intelligence”? We are also looking forward to welcoming Pascal Capitolin, who has worked as a sound designer with our conference guests Philipp Scheffner and Merle Kröger, among others, and most recently tested the independence of image and sound when working on the film HAVARIE. Their voices, together with our festival guests Alexander Scholz and Pedro Segura, are sure to shed light on the subtle mechanics of cinema!
Moderation: Janaína Oliveira
Wednesday, March 3
The actress Constanze Becker (Berliner Ensemble) has only occasionally been seen in cinema productions. In DIE SPIELWÜTIGEN, for example, director Andres Veiel accompanied her when she entered the famous Ernst Busch drama school about ten years ago. Today she is one of the most impressive faces of German theater. In the context of our debate “Playact”, she will meet Lola Arias (“Futureland”), who explores questions of authenticity and artificiality across disciplinary boundaries – recently she staged her film THEATRE OF WAR in direct collaboration with war veterans. Based on the films FAUNA and SUNRISE IN MY MIND and in dialogue with directors Danech San and Nicolás Pereda, they will negotiate what acting has to do with playing and transformation and whether illusions can be politicized.
Moderation: Bert Rebhandl
Thursday, March 4
Film critic Maggie Lee is the Chief Asia Film Critic for the Variety magazine. She will discuss with us what it means to be in charge and a critic at the same time, and what hierarchy and reflection have to do with Sion Sono’s new film. In our Critics’ Debate she will be in conversation with Patrick Holzapfel, who has made himself heard as a distinctive voice of the Austrian film landscape in recent years. In his online project “Jugend ohne Film”, film critics and filmmakers react in surprising ways to their film viewing experiences. We hope for similar reactions during their discussion of RED POST ON ESCHER STREET and Olivier Godin’s new short film DRACULA SEX TAPE.
Moderation: Lucía Salas
Friday, March 5
This evening is dedicated to the strategies of film curators and festival programmers. For the debate “See Through”, we will welcome Stoffel Debuysere, curator of film and audiovisual arts and festival director of the Courtisane Festival, and Kalpana Nair, who is in charge of international programming at the MAMI Mumbai International Film Festival. We have invited them to discuss with Greg de Cuir Jr. (curator & writer), who put special attention on international currents of Black Cinema in 2019 with the “Black Light” retrospective at the Locarno Film Festival, and cinematographer Kirsten Johnson (CITIZENFOUR), who over the course of her career has filmed Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, two of the most discussed activists of the present day. In the debate, we will explore positions and perspectives on coherent or dissonant film programs and, last but not least, ask about the politics of the camera’s gaze and documentary ethics.
Moderation: Dennis Vetter
LOST & FOUND
Saturday, March 6
In AN UNUSUAL SUMMER, renowned Palestinian filmmaker and artist Kamal Aljafari shows that the images of a surveillance camera can tell a story. What we cannot tell is whether the background of directors Manoj Leonel Jason and Shyam Sunder in theater has anything to do with the fact that their film HORSE TAIL is so full of references beyond cinema. What we can tell is that the rush of images they have created is reminiscent of a stream of consciousness and allows for quite a mental journey. What both films have to do with each other or not, we want to know from curator and legendary critic Amy Taubin. In conversation with Devika Girish from the Berlin Critics’ Week selection committee, they will discuss how the two films of the program search for images and why their protagonists cannot stay still.
Moderation: Devika Girish
Sunday, March 7
What do we talk about when the world’s on fire? Caroline Pitzen tackles this question and more in her feature film debut FREIZEIT ODER: DAS GEGENTEIL VON NICHTSTUN, which was created in close collaboration with young non-professional actors and actresses who are all activists. UNE MUSÉE DORT – the first feature by Camille de Chenay, who previously made six short films – reinvents the youth film and demonstrates how language is linked to visuality. We wondered what Jennifer Reeder (KNIVES AND SKIN) might think about her film and invited her. Adolescence is known to take on complicated and sometimes cruel traits in her work. In search for synthesis, we asked philosopher Rahel Jaeggi (“Critique of Forms of Life”) to discuss with us how language and images are rooted in lifestyles. There is at least one thing we know: when film style meets lifestyle, there is a lot to discuss!