Fragility (2): Werkstattkino

Also at Werkstattkino München, the cradle of UNDERDOX, the theme of FRAGILITY runs through the selected films in a multi-layered way. Viewing and reception habits shift, and the viewer is also put in a state of fragility – UNDERDOX is the festival that opens eyes.

MEXICO, ARGENITINIA: Nicolás Pereda, Heinz Emigholz

© Nicolás Pereda, Fauna

In FAUNA, Mexican director Nicolás Pereda overwhelms with subtle narrative sophistication. An actor from the series “Narcos” meets a literature obsessive with a yellow Reclam book when he wants to buy cigarettes in a lonely village in Mexico.
In Heinz Emigholz’s latest stroke of genius THE LOBBY, an “Old White Male” inhabits the lobbies of various apartment buildings in Buenos Aires. Absurd, grotesque, then again very reasonable, he expresses himself in a monologue about death, consciousness and human relationships.

BLOODSUCKERS: Norbert Pfaffenbichler, Tim Leyendekker, Julian Radlmaier

© Julian Radlmaier, Blutsauger

UNDERDOX does not stop at genre cinema either. The fragile figures in Norbert Pfaffenbichler‘s silent horror film “2551.01”, in which “everything is dirty, bare, cold, stripped, but more than that, the people are not only ‘dressed’ in rags, their bodies are virtually disintegrating into shreds, have a disturbing effect. The film is flawless gore that relies on repulsion and sends the human spirit into a wild mental roller coaster ride.” (artechock)
In his staged documentary FEAST, Tim Leyendekker uses the “Groningen HIV Case” to circle the perverted yet humane shades of a deadly love affair.
In BLUTSAUGER by Julian Radlmaier, a summer romance unfolds on uncertain terrain: Vampires plumb the physical and spiritual boundaries at the time of Eisenstein and Trotsky.

DOCUMENTARIES: John Gianvito, Thomas Ash, Claire Angelini

© John Gianvito, Her Socialist Smile

In HER SOCIALIST SMILE, the American documentary filmmaker John Gianvito uses sound, film, and written documents to tell the story of deaf-blind Helen Keller (1880-1968), who became one of the most important anti-capitalist intellectuals, as she found her way through language and thought.
Using a hidden camera, Thomas Ash captured the uncompromising refugee policy and one of the country’s human rights scandals in the deportation prison near Tokyo for USHIKU.  
In Claire Angelini’s THE TIME OF OTHERS, archaeologists search for remnants of our past humanity at Mont Beuvray in Burgundy. The landscape bears multi-layered witness to cultural migration. 

FRIENDS: Ted Fendt, Caroline Pitzen, Ludwig Wüst, Guillermo Benet

© Caroline Pitzen, FREIZEIT oder: das gegenteil von nichtstun

The master of laconism Ted Fendt was UNDERDOX’s “artist in focus” two years ago. His latest film OUTSIDE NOISE is about the restless Daniela, who has just returned from a trip abroad and is now drifting through Vienna with two friends, rather disoriented.
The diverse neighborhood in which the young protagonists of Caroline Pitzen’s debut film FREIZEIT OR: DAS GEGENTEIL VON NICHTSTUN grew up is one big construction site where people have to give way to each other’s dreams. They drift through Berlin and ask themselves how they can live in this city in the future.
In 3.30 PM, Ludwig Wüst leaves the filming partly to a bodycam. Two friends, Martin and Anthony, meet again after 15 years, a traumatic experience comes back.
In his debut film LOS INOCENTES, Spaniard Guillermo Benet uses the famous multi-perspective “Rashomon” narrative style. In a squat, a concert is abruptly interrupted by police intervention and the young people are driven into a violent confrontation. In the end, there are no certainties, even the truth is fragile.

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Fragility (1): Filmmuseum Munich, Theatiner Filmkunst

Filmmuseum Munich

© Marta Popivoda, Landscapes of Resistance

Insecurity, revolt and possibilities of political resistance are shown in the UNDERDOX opening film LANDSCAPES OF RESISTANCE by Marta Popivoda along a biography from the time of National Socialism until today. Frederick Wiseman, the American veteran of direct cinema, documents in CITY HALL how a city government persistently resists democratic and social erosion. On the occasion of the world premiere of Alexandre Koberidze’s WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE LOOK AT HEAVEN, Berlinale director Carlo Chatrian writes: “It is the poetry of aimlessness that enables Koberidze to make visible and tellable in cinema all that we rarely perceive.”

Theatiner Filmkunst


Aesthetically, fragility also means fragility and tenderness, hints at beauty, allows silence and poetry. In ÜBER DEUTSCHLAND, the German-Austrian director Bernhard Sallmann has texts by the young Russian Marina Zwetajewa recited high above Dresden in the style of Jean-Marie Straub – it is the year 1919, the result a subtle essay of tender topicality. With HYGIÈNE SOCIALE, the French-Canadian Denis Côté has staged a relationship drama in which the microcosm of the dialogue takes over the play and the protagonists stand rooted to the spot in the landscape. P. S. Vinothraj’s morality tale PEBBLES is about everyday violence against women in India, in which a son questions his father’s patriarchal certainties – almost without words. A RIVER RUNS, TURNS, ERASES, REPLACES is a poetic meditation on the megalopolis of Wuhan on the Yangtze River, initially made under the impact of China’s brutal Corona Shutdown. Filmmaker Zhu Shengze represents the poeticizing documentary that focuses on an empathetic view of the world.

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© Alexandre Koberidze, Was sehen wir, wenn wir zum Himmel schauen?

The international film festival UNDERDOX has always been concerned with border crossers that position themselves between documentary, experimental film, feature film or art film. Since the films are hardly suitable for “exploitation” on the market and production often takes place under difficult conditions, their status is fragile in many respects. This has been exacerbated in part by Corona.

In year two of Corona, UNDERDOX raises FRAGILITY to the central theme. Vulnerability is now followed by fragility. Certainties have become uncertain, cohesion is at stake. Society – the private sphere, culture, the economy and public life as a whole – is groping for new forms and contents of togetherness. Change – farewell, departure and new start – also means fragility.

FRAGILITY aesthetically means fragility and delicacy, allows beauty to be heard, allows silence and poetry. Fragility manifests itself in groping and questioning works, which are far from the gesture of assertion. The films of UNDERDOX celebrate open forms, many perspectives and aesthetic diversity, break with habits of seeing and reception and contribute to shifting the parameters. The spectator, the viewer is also put into a state of FRAGILITY.

Alexandre Koberidze’s feature WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE LOOK AT HEAVEN? is one of the films that enchanted us this year. “It is the poetry of aimlessness that allows Koberidze to make visible and tellable in cinema all that we rarely perceive,” writes Carlo Chatrian. Koberidze was already a guest at UNDERDOX in 2017 with his experimental feature-length film LASS DEN SOMMER NIE WIEDER KOMMEN.

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Upcoming: UNDERDOX 16

The festival summer begins! Unfortunately, the UNDERDOX half-time is cancelled again this year. Instead, it’s good to sit in the sun coming out of the cinemas of Crossing Europe in Linz. We found a few films there: Norbert Pfaffenbichler’s insane horror-gore-grotesque 2551.01, Bernhard Sallmann’s concentrated literary film Über Deutschland, based on the diaries of Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva. Artist in Focus will be Siegfried A. Fruhauf, who will give a lecture about his impressive experimental work.

In Rotterdam we have also already collected many films: Marta Popivoda, Tim Leyendekker, numerous short films. Likewise in Berlin: at the Berlinale and at the Week of Critics.

We’ve been online a lot, it’s time to see each other again.

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