Coherent Action, Incoherent Cinema
The Berlin Critics’ Week Conference 2021
Two-part conference on February 27 and 28, 2021
Films and debates from March 1 – 7, online and optionally at the Hackesche Höfe Kino Berlin
How can conviction be shown? And on the screens and displays out there, do there exist sequences of images that make it possible to think of the future of cinema in the midst of a pandemic? Scheduled for the weekend before the Berlinale’s European Film Market, this year’s Berlin Critics’ Week Conference is taking on a film-philosophical heavyweight: the German term of “Konsequenz,” which simultaneously translates as coherence and consequence. Unter the title “Coherent Action, Incoherent Cinema,” we explore the idea of Konsequenz in film, in the culture industry, and not least in critical practice.
Over two afternoons, the conference will gather guests and questions to place aesthetic positions in direct relation to social action. What strategies are needed to revive our screens after the pandemic’s severe restrictions on the film and festival ecosystem? How much perseverance, playfulness, and perhaps even of naivete is required of those who are continuing to make films against all odds? Does a coherent practice – be it in filmmaking or other fields – relate to a sense of conviction, and how is such a practice connected to concepts such as radicalism and independence?
The first participants of our discussions have been confirmed. In a lecture, B. Ruby Rich will explore whether her sense of consequence leads her, in her role as editor of Film Quarterly magazine, to the right texts, images, and decisions. With filmmakers Philip Scheffner and Merle Kröger (“Havarie”, “Revision”) and philosopher Juliane Rebentisch (“The Art of Freedom”), we will discuss the notion of “autonomy” and how art and criticism can challenge each other to pursue aesthetic freedom without losing sight of current events. Suneil Sanzgiri (“Letter From Your Far-Off Country”) will examine, among other questions, whether a film that is coherent in itself is more convincing for that reason alone, and what the impulse to make persuasive connections has to do with ideology. The artists Garrett Bradley (“Time”, “America”) and Kevin Jerome Everson (“Tonsler Park”) will explore the methods they use in their films to position themselves in relation to social tensions in the US. A program of their short films will accompany the conversation.
The Berlin Critics’ Week continues to face closed cinemas and venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, a hybrid program is currently planned. The conference will be broadcast online over two afternoons. We will announce shortly whether an additional physical event with an audience will be possible. We’re aiming to present our film and debate program online as well as at Hackesche Höfe Kino, depending on further lockdown measures in Berlin. Details on the schedule of the event, the physical edition, as well as accreditation procedures will follow in the coming weeks.