Christoph Schlingensief: Bad-Tastemeister
Christoph Schlingensief: Bad-Tastemeister
2 – 17 December 2011
The Gallery’s Australian Cinémathèque presents a rare exhibition of films by the late German artist, actor, and film and theatre director Christoph Schlingensief (1960—2010), representative for the German Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale and winner of the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. Described by filmmaker Herbert Achternbusch as “filth for intellectuals”, Schlingensief’s work combines excessive B-movie aesthetics with a critique of contemporary politics. He described his films as “Cinema direct”, a label stemming from the Viennese Actionists notion of “Direct Art” and produced an aesthetic and DIY working methodology that tackled complex themes of nation, violence and Western materialism in a direct and immediate way. In particular, Schlingensief used his films to mobilise debates on the spread of far-right political parties across Europe, the politics of fear after the events of 9/11, and the legacy of the Third Reich in post-war Germany.
The Australian Cinémathèque program includes all of Schlingensief‘s feature films and a selection of his short films and documentaries, some subtitled in English for the first time. It includes the Australian premiere of the six new high-definition restorations presented at the 2011 Venice Biennale for Menu Total, Egomania, the Germany trilogy of 100 Years of Adolph Hitler, The German Chainsaw Massacre, and Terror 2000, as well as his penultimate film, United Trash; alongside the world premiere of three new restorations for his debut feature Tunguska, and rarely seen films Mother’s Mask and The 120 Days of Bottrop.
The Australian Cinémathèque extends its sincere thanks to Frieder Schlaich and staff at Filmgalerie 451 for assisting the development and presentation of this program. Quotes sourced from Christoph Schlingensief: Art Without Borders (2010) by Tara Forrest and Anna Teresa Scheer (TF/ATS) and Reinventing the left: Radical responses to German reunification (2006) by David Ashley Hughes (DAH).
This program of rarely seen short films show Schlingensief experimenting with the gamut of cinematic modes, through narrative, documentary and experimental film, with the help of family members and colleagues:
Mein 1. Film 1986
8MM, COLOUR, MONO, 11 MINUTES, WEST GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF
Mensch Mami, wir drehn 'nen Film (Hey, Mum, Let's Shoot a Movie) 1977
SUPER 8MM, COLOUR, MONO, 20 MINUTES, WEST GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT/EDITOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / CINEMATOGRAPHER: REINHARD LANDSHAMMER / CAST: FRANZ R SCHMOLL, DORIS STOMMEL, LENI BAUER, HANS MICHEL, MARTINA WOLFS
Für Elise 1982
16MM, COLOUR, MONO, 2 MINUTES, WEST GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT/EDITOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / CINEMATOGRAPHER: MICHAEL SPRINGER / CAST: MARTINA WOLFS, ELKE LEISCHEN, HANS MICHELS, LENI BAUER, CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF
Wie würden Sie entscheiden? (How would you decide?) 1982
16MM, COLOUR, MONO, 3.30 MINUTES, WEST GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT/EDITOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF
Schlacht der Idioten (Idiots' Battle) 1986
16MM, COLOUR, MONO, 21 MINUTES, WEST GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT/EDITOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF
Sat 3 Dec 2.00pm (with Phantasus Go Home + What happened to Maddalena Jung) / Cinema A
16MM, COLOUR, MONO, 71 MINUTES (92 MINUTES WITH SHORTS), WEST GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / CINEMATOGRAPHER: DOMINIKUS PROBST / EDITOR: BARBARA LAMSFUß / PRODUCTION DESIGNER: ECKHARD W KUCHENBECKER / MUSIC: HELGE SCHNEIDER / CAST: IRENE FISCHER, MATTHIAS COLLI, ALFRED EDEL, VLADIMIR KONETZNY, CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF ALS MAJOR PATER HILF / PRODUCTION CO: DEM FILMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIM, HYMEN II / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451 / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL CINEMA
‘Tunguska is primarily a moralising story about torture and disfigurement. It casts the history of avant-garde and experimental filmmaking as a story of grossly abused power. It not only tells but also shows viewers how the vanguard exploration and development of film’s unique visual language has resulted in a crude biological objectification of spectators... It also illustrates with its tragic narrative how the entire tradition of non-narrative cinema is a dead end set with a lethal trap.’ TF/ATS
In Schlingensief’s allegorical reading of aesthetic dictatorship, three researchers travel to the North Pole to torture Eskimos with their avant-garde films. The title refers to an explosion at the Siberian Tunguska River in 1908. Likely caused by the impact of a meteorite, it was the subject of myth and anxieties about cataclysmic destruction. The surreal and often fragmented narrative includes a love story about two naïve teenagers who are held captive by the researchers and forced to endure their films, fusing elements of horror and science fiction with the films other romantic and gothic themes.
Screening followed by Phantasus muss anders warden (Phantasus Go Home) 1983 (9mins) and Die Ungenierten kommen - What happened to Magdalena Jung? 1983 (12mins). These two preceding 16mm films join Tunguska to form a “Trilogy on the Critique of Film — Film as Neurosis”, Schlingensief’s indictment of German avant-garde cinema.
Wed 7 Dec 8.30pm / Cinema A
SUPER 16MM TRANSFERRED TO 35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 81 MINUTES, WEST GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT/CINEMATOGRAPHER: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / EDITOR: EVA-MARIA WILL / PRODUCTION DESIGNER: ECKHARD W KUCHENBECKER / MUSIC: HELGE SCHNEIDER / CAST: HELGE SCHNEIDER, WOLFGANG BERTZKY, ALFRED EDEL, DIETRICH KUHLBRODT / PRODUCTION CO: DEM FILMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIM, HYMEN II / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451
Meat, Your Parents: Schlingensief’s favourite film is a morbidly funny story about a traumatised young man who his abused by his father and descends into dark fantasies where he imagines himself as Hitler and exterminates his family. The film was booed at the Berlinale when it was premiered, with Wim Wenders leaving after 10 minutes. Made at a time when right-wing intellectuals were attempting to normalise Germany’s Nazi past by comparing Nazi war crimes with other countries, Schlingensief rejects the possibilities of coming to terms with Germany’s past, opting instead for a celebration of wild and stomach-churning obscenity.
Sat 3 Dec 3.45pm / Cinema A
16MM, COLOUR, MONO, 84 MINUTES, WEST GERMANY, GERMAN/SERBIAN/ENGLISH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT/EDITOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / CINEMATOGRAPHER: DOMINIKUS PROBST / MUSIC: TOM DOKOUPIL, ELLA JOHNSON, CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF, HELGE SCHNEIDER / CAST: UDO KIER, TILDA SWINTON, UWE FELLENSIEK / PRODUCTION CO: DEM FILMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIM / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451 / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL CINEMA
'Reality in Egomania is cold and desolate and infused with an apocalyptic sense of futility and hopelessness — not unlike much West German culture of the mid-1980s.' DAH
Egomania is a visually stunning end-of-the-world melodrama about lust, jealousy and murder set amidst solar eclipses, orchestral chants and the distant thunder of the boiling sea. The film’s characters — riddled with unconscious desires —find themselves imprisoned on an island. Drawing parallels to the work of British filmmaker Derek Jarman and staring Jarman’s actress-muse Tilda Swinton, Schlingensief’s raw and almost mythological film stands in contrast to his more offensive efforts.
Wed 14 Dec 8.00pm / Cinema A
16MM, COLOUR, MONO, 85 MINUTES, WEST GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/CINEMATOGRAPHER/EDITOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / SCRIPT: MATHIAS COLLI, CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / PRODUCTION DESIGNER: BODO VON HASSELBECK / MUSIC: WALLY BÖCKER, HATTE GRABE, HELGE SCHNEIDER, CHARLY WEISS / CAST: HELGE SCHNEIDER, UDO KIER, KARL-FRIEDRICH MEWS, BRIGITTE KAUSCH, SUSANNE BREDEHÖFT / PRODUCTION CO: DEM FILMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIM, HYMEN II / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451 / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL CINEMA
Mutters Maske is based on the film Opfergang 1944 by renowned filmmaker of the Third Reich, Veit Harlan. Schlingensief remakes the film — a melodrama that sought to imbue Nazi German self-sacrifice with transcendent meaning — as an exercise in extreme parody and pure kitsch. Both films tell the story of a wife’s self-sacrifice for a husband who falls in love with a terminally ill neighbour; Schlingensief distorts this narrative, turning it into a soap opera about German society on the brink of self-annihilation and as a parable of the AIDS epidemic.
Deutschlangtrilogie | German Trilogy
Christoph Schlingensielf’s ‘Deutschlangtrilogie/German Trilogy’ 1989—1992 covers the period immediately prior to and post Germany’s reunification in 1989 and the country in the process of coming to terms with both and the past and present in post-war Germany. The films deal with the legacy of the Third Reich; the difficulties faced by Germany in dealing with its National Socialist past; the end of the 1968 revolutionary movement following the violent excesses of the Red Army Faction (RAF); and the many challenges posed by the post 1989 reunification period. Schlingensielf’s approach is direct – with the films explicitly revealing the hypocrisies, discriminatory practice and repressed violent tendencies that are masked by post-war Germany’s desired vision of itself as a post-fascist liberal democracy.
100 Jahre Adolf Hitler – Die letzte Stunde im Führerbunker (100 Years of Adolph Hitler – The Last Hour in the Führerbunker) 1989 Ages 18+
Wed 7 Dec 7.30pm / Cinema A
16MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 55 MINUTES, WEST GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / CINEMATOGRAPHER: VOXI BÄRENKLAU / EDITORS: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF, ARIANE TRAUB / PRODUCTION DESIGNER: ULI HANISCH / MUSIC: TOM DOKOUPIL / CAST: VOLKER SPENGLER, BRIGITTE KAUSCH, MARGIT CARSTENSEN, DIETRICH KUHLBRODT, ALFRED EDEL, UDO KIER / PRODUCTION CO: DEM FILMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIM, HYMEN II / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451 / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL CINEMA
'By rooting the existence of Neo-Nazism in high society’s refusal to engage directly with the continued fascination with Hitler, and by subsequently making a film about fascism in the mode of a trash horror mockumentary, Schlingensief suggest that coming to terms with the past is not only a matter of politics, but a matter of taste as well.' TF/ATS
The last hour in the Führerbunker shows the key figures of the Nazi regime on the brink of its downfall fighting a private war of their own. Gorging, screwing, and machinating: the dark hallways of the Führerbunker are the location for all kinds of excesses. Shot in complete darkness in an original World War II bunker during a 16-hour period, the only light source is Schlingensief's flashlight guiding the camera through the controlled chaos; his cast acting to the point of exhaustion, the banality of evil is exposed in its integral obscenity.
Das deutsche Kettensägen Massaker (The German Chainsaw Massacre: The First Hour of Reunification) 1990 Ages 18+
Fri 9 Dec 8.00pm / Cinema A
16MM TRANSFERRED TO 35MM, COLOUR, STEREO, 60 MINUTES, GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: VOXI BÄRENKLAU, CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / EDITOR: ARIANE TRAUB / PRODUCTION DESIGNER: ULI HANISCH / MUSIC: JACQUES ARR / CAST: KARINA FALLENSTEIN, SUSANNE BREDEHÖFT, ARTUR ALBRECHT, VOLKER SPENGLER, ALFRED EDEL, BRIGITTE KAUSCH, DIETRICH KUHLBRODT, REINALD SCHNELL, UDO KIER, IRM HERMANN, EVA MARIA KURZ, INGRID RAGUSCHKE, MIKE WIEDEMANN / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451
In Schlingensief’s alternative vision of German reunification, a group of East German emigrants encounter a West German family of psychotic butchers. As the film’s tagline suggests: “They came as friends and became sausage!” Schlingensief’s satirical horror film transposes the basic formula of the slasher genre within the context of a reunified Germany and mixes black comedy and trash aesthetics with his more experimental approaches, exposing the free market economy as the meat market it is!
Fri 16 Dec 7.30pm / Cinema A
35MM, COLOUR, STEREO, 79 MINUTES, GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / SCRIPT: OSKAR ROEHLER, ULI HANISCH, CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / CINEMATOGRAPHER: REINHARD KÖCHER / EDITOR: BETTINA BÖHLER / ART DIRECTOR: ULI HANISCH / MUSIC: KAMBIZ GIAHI, JACQUES ARR / CAST: MARGIT CARSTENSEN, PETER KERN, SUSANNE BREDEHÖFT, ALFRED EDEL, DIETRICH KUHLBRODT, UDO KIER / PRODUCTION CO: DEM FILMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIM, NORDDEUTSCHER RUNDFUNK, WESTDEUTSCHER RUNDFUNK / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451 / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL CINEMA
Springtime for Hitler... Again? Schlingensief’s politically-incorrect satire of post re-unification Germany follows a couple investigating the disappearance of a German social worker and the Polish family in his care. Their search takes them to the provincial town of Rassau, where the remaining hostage takers of the real-life Gladbeck hostage drama, are living undercover as a priest and a furniture wholesaler. Echoing the media-induced hysteria that resulted in widespread Neo-Nazi racist attacks throughout Germany in the early 1990s, Schlingensief’s hostage takers lead the city's xenophobic locals in a gory killing spree against asylum seekers.
Fri 16 Dec 9.00pm / Cinema A
35MM, COLOUR AND BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 75 MINUTES, GERMANY, GERMAN/ENGLISH (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/CINEMATOGRAPHER: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / SCRIPT: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF, OSKAR ROEHLER / EDITOR: ANDREA SCHUMACHER / CAST: UDO KIER, KITTEN NATIVIDAD, JOACHIM TOMASCHEWSKY, JOHNNY PFEIFFER / PRODUCTION CO: DEM FILMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIM / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451 / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL CINEMA
'United Trash confronts us with an extremely bleak view of Western civilisation in which violence spreads across the world while being turned into empty spectacle by the media… It marks a departure from the specifically German concerns of Schlingensief’s earlier works by responding to violence at the global level, and Schlingensief takes his debasement of film to new levels in this truly appalling piece of trash culture that comes with its own health warning.' DAH
In this grotesque and blasphemous comedy — a response to the United Nations’ failure to control violence in the Balkans and Rwanda during the early 1990s — a black child is born to a German general working for the UN in Africa. Hailed by a deposed bishop set on overthrowing the Vatican as the Messiah, the child’s face is horribly disfigured in an accident, producing a cranial slit. At the same time, the local despot conspires to kill the US president via a discarded Nazi rocket powered by burning human sacrifices. Shot in Zimbabwe, the entire crew was arrested on suspicion of making pornography and the footage smuggled out of the country to complete the production.
Die 120 Tage von Bottrop — Der letzte neue deutsche Film (The 120 Days of Bottrop — The Last New German Film) 1997 Ages 18+
Fri 9 Dec 9.00pm / Cinema A
16MM, COLOUR AND BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 60 MINUTES, GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / SCRIPT: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF, OSKAR ROEHLER / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF, KURT KREN / EDITOR: BETTINA BÖHLER / MUSIC: HELGE SCHNEIDER / CAST: MARGIT CARSTENSEN, IRM HERMANN, VOLKER SPENGLER, UDO KIER, HELMUT BERGER, MARIO GARZANER, SOPHIE ROIS, MARTIN WUTTKE, BERNHARD SCHÜTZ / PRODUCTION CO: DEM FILMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIM, NEUE VOLKSKUNST, OSTDEUTSCHER RUNDFUNK BRANDENBURG, ÖSTERREICHISCHER RUNDFUNK / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451 / SCREENING FORMAT: DIGITAL CINEMA
'Schlingensief’s relationship with the New German Cinema has always been highly ambivalent. On the one hand, he recognises that it originated as a radical left-wing departure that unafraid of addressing specifically German concerns… The trouble with the New German Cinema, for Schlingensief, was that it soon lost its radical edge and developed a melancholic obsession with national guilt.' DAH
The last survivors of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film crew gather to make the last New German Film: a remake of Pier Paolo Pasolini's notorious Salò or The 120 Days of Sodom 1975. Set in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz (then the largest construction site in Europe), Schlingensief’s absurd homage and parody of the German cultural heritage is complete with appearances from figures from German film, TV and theatre scenes. Many actors, contributors and cultural icons appear as themselves, with some dead personalities resurrected for a final coup de grâce on New German Cinema.
Sat 17 Dec 3.30pm / Cinema A
BETA SP, COLOUR, STEREO, 75 MINUTES, GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: DIRK HEUER, MEIKA DRESENKAMP / EDITOR: ROBERT KUMMER / MUSIC: UWE SCHENK / CAST: ACHIM VON PACZENSKY, IRM HERMANN, CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF, HELGA STÖWHASE, MARIO GARZANER, KERSTIN GRAßMANN, WERNER BRECHT, HORST GELONNECK, AXEL SILBER, BRIGITTE KAUSCH-KUHLBRODT, SUSANNE BREDERHÖFT UND DIE BEWOHNER DES THIELE-WINCKLER-HAUSES IN BERLIN-LICHTENRADE / PRODUCTION CO: FILMGALERIE 451 / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451
Schlingensief lampoons the genre of reality television by inviting a group of mentally handicapped applicants to take a shot at fame and fortune by competing to be part of the band Mutter Sucht Schrauben (Mother Seeks Screws). Based on Schlingensief’s enormously popular television series of the same name for a European cable network, Freakstars is a challenging study of exploitation, combining moments of biting social satire and outrageous parody. It was famously described by The Village Voice as ‘flagrantly incorrect!’
Wed 21 Dec 7.30pm / Cinema A
HD CAM TRANSFERRED TO DIGITAL BETACAM, COLOUR, MONO, 79 MINUTES, GERMANY, GERMAN (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / SCRIPT: ULI HANISCH, OSKAR ROEHLER, CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF / CINEMATOGRAPHERS: MEIKA DRESENKAMP, KATHRIN KROTTENTHALER, PATRICK WALDMANN / EDITORS: KATHRIN KROTTENTHALER, SABINE STEYER, ANGELA CHRISTLIEB / CAST: IRM HERMANN, KLAUS BEYER, STEFAN KOLOSKO, ROBERT STADLOBER, KATHARINA SCHLOTHAUER, KARIN WITT, BJÖRN THORS, NORBERT LOSCH, DIRK ROHDE, CHRISTIANE TSOUREAS, MOHAMMED, CHRISTIN APPOLLUS, CHRISTOPH SCHLINGENSIEF, PATTI SMITH, SOWIE DIE THEATERGRUPPE LÜDERITZ / PRODUCTION CO: DEM FILMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIMPRODUKTION MÜHLHEIM, NORDDEUTSCHER RUNDFUNK, WESTDEUTSCHER RUNDFUNK / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: FILMGALERIE 451
The African Twin Towers is a documentary about Schlingensief's last, unfinished film exploring German colonial guilt. Schlingensief is director, actor and cameraman, bringing together a group of non-professional performers (and some notable celebrities including Patti Smith) to play out elaborate scenarios on a rotating ship stage in Namibia. References are made to Richard Wagner, the attacks of September 11th and Norse mythology, blending Nordic and European legends with African shamanism, the music of Patti Smith and the politicised writings of Elfriede Jelinek.