Is standstill forbidden? The sort of “progress” cinema needs

Opening conference of the Berlin Critics’ Week 2022
Akademie der Künste, Pariser Platz 4
February 9, 2022, 7pm

Conference on Youtube

During the opening conference of Berlin Critics’ Week, we will explore the paradoxical site of tension where the various dreams of progress relate to a society that has hit pause and stepped back to reflect, with two panels and two lectures at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. We want to discuss how the notion of a progressive cinema and a progressive film culture currently stand, and how they each relate to the ways that ideas of ‘standstill’ are manifest in art and politics today. The Berlinale is about to begin – with a focus on working conditions within the film industry, set by their Talents programme. The newly formed German government, in their coalition agreement, have vowed to “Dare More Progress”. It’s a sentiment that was and is proclaimed often throughout the pandemic, especially within the cultural sphere: never again back to the old ways! Especially during the last two years, diffuse promises and differing concepts of progress – ideas that land somewhere between capitalism and social revolution – have been floating in the ether, and with them, the hope that society and art might gain new knowledge or insights during the recurring lockdowns by hitting the reset button. For in these ‘standstill’ periods, social routines are suspended, and some even thrown into question. The term itself calls to mind the threat of stagnation; at the same time, it invites a casual refusal of productivity. But is this state of ‘standstill’ really the seedbed of change? Regression, revolution or deceleration – where will the next steps lead societies around the world?

María do Mar Castro Varela will discuss the relation of progress, standstill and normality from her perspective. In a panel discussion we will ask Simone Baumann (Managing Director of German Films and producer), Cíntia Gil (film curator), Rahel Jaeggi (philosopher), Kevin B. Lee (filmmaker, media artist, critic, “Transformers: The Premake”) how the concept of progress relates to the film industry and film politics today. Georg Seeßlen will comment on contemporary dynamics of film culture.

A second panel will be dedicated to the question of which cinematic movements gain momentum in social crises – and which become obsolete. We have invited Douglas Gordon (artist), Nadav Lapid (filmmaker, “Synonymes,” “Ahed’s Knee”), Laila Pakalniņa (filmmaker, “Spoon,” “Dream Land”), Eva Sangiorgi (Festival director of the Viennale).

In cooperation with the section Film and Media Art of the Akademie der Künste.
Supported by Filmnetzwerk Berlin.
The event will be held in English.
Doors: 6:30pm


  • Welcome: Thomas Heise (filmmaker, Director of the Film and Media Arts Section)
  • Keynote: María do Mar Castro Varela (Political scientist, professor of general education and social work)
  • Panel: Simone Baumann (Managing Director of German Films, producer), Cíntia Gil (Film curator), Rahel Jaeggi (Philosopher), Kevin B. Lee (filmmaker, media artist, and critic, „Transformers: The Premake“)

Intermission, 8:30pm


  • Lecture Georg Seeßlen (Author and film critic)
  • Panel: Douglas Gordon (Artist), Nadav Lapid (Filmmaker, “Synonymes”), Laila Pakalniņa (Filmmaker, screenwriter, “Spoon”, “Dream Land”), and Eva Sangiorgi (Festival director of the Viennale)


All Critics’ Week programmes at a glimpse

Press contact: Elisabeth Mohr,

The photo motif for this year’s opening conference was provided by Leipzig-based photographer Regina Susanne Borchert (

The Berlin Critics’ Week is an event organised by the German Film Critics Association, supported by the Stiftung Kulturwerk of the VG Bild-Kunst and the Rudolf Augstein Stiftung. The opening conference will be held in cooperation with the Akademie der Künste and was supported by the Filmnetzwerk Berlin.