The 2021 joint retrospective of the Viennale and the Austrian Film Museum is dedicated to Amos Vogel (1921-2012). Born as Amos Vogelbaum to a Jewish family in Vienna, he fled the Nazi terror and emigrated to the United States via Cuba in 1938. In New York City, his new home, he became one of the world’s most influential film curators: first as the founder of the Cinema 16 film society (1947-63), and later as the co-founder of the New York Film Festival (1963-68). His book Film as a Subversive Art (1974) influenced generations of cinephiles and curators and was instrumental in establishing film curatorship as a form of aesthetic, social and political activism.
The aim of our retrospective is not to reconstruct or re-enact any of the film programs Vogel put together, nor to screen the films he wrote about. Instead, we understand Vogel as an explorer of the cinematic present. Rather than putting together a tribute showcasing the works Vogel championed and thus canonized for his era, we choose to follow in his footsteps and champion his values – polyphony of voices, aesthetic and political disruption, and subversion – from today’s perspective.
Film as a Subversive Art 2021 celebrates Vogel’s 100th birthday. However, acknowledging and embracing the present means to question curatorial responsibilities and privileges. We therefore invited six valued colleagues from all over the globe to help us shape this tribute. Each of them was given the same challenge: to compose programs with contemporary and recent films (with the publication date of Film as a Subversive Art as a point of reference) that address the notions of “film,” “subversive,” and “art” today. We were surprised and delighted by the results and now invite you to join us in the cinema to share our surprise and delight.
Eva Sangiorgi, Michael Loebenstein, Jurij Meden
Nicole Brenez, Go Hirasawa, Kim Knowles, Birgit Kohler, Roger Koza & Nour Ouayda
Cinetracts, Marine Hugonnier, France/UK, 2017, digital, 57 min
Giverny’s Cusp, Marine Hugonnier, France, 2019, 35mm, 10 min
Nou voix, Maxime Jean-Baptiste, French Guiana, 2018, digital, 14 min
Just A Movement, Vincent Meessen, Belgium/Senegal, 2021, digital, 110 min
The Mirror of Possible Worlds, Fergus Daly, Ireland, 2020, digital, 24 min
Birds by the Sea, Wolfgang Lehmann, Germany, 2008, digital, 2 min
Filmatruc à verres n°2 (compte-rendu d’installation), Silvi Simon, France, 2010, digital, 2 min
Filmatruc à verres n°4, Orage (compte-rendu d’installation), Silvi Simon, France, 2012, digital, 2 min
Brouillard - passage #14, Alexandre Larose, Canada, 2013, 35mm, 10 min
Lighting Dance, Cecilia Bengolea, Argentina, 2018, digital, 6 min
Herbs (élément d’installation, extrait), Silvi Simon, France, 2019, digital, 3 min
A Floral Tribute for Essex Road, Jayne Parker, UK, 2019, 16mm, 5 min
Phytography, Karel Doing, Netherlands, 2020, 16mm, 8 min
Promenade 1, Zélie Parraud, France, 2021, digital, 1 min
Promenade 2, Zélie Parraud, France, 2021, digital, 1 min
Nicole Brenez is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Paris 3/Sorbonne Nouvelle, Director of the Department “Analyse et Culture cinématographique” at the Femis since 2017, and curator of the Cinémathèque française's avant-garde film series since 1996. Together with the filmmaker Philippe Grandrieux, she produces the film collection It May Be That Beauty Has Strengthened Our Resolve, devoted to revolutionary filmmakers forgotten or neglected by the histories of cinema. Her most recent book is Manifestations (De l’Incidence, 2020).
Mizu no nai puru (A Pool Without Water), Koji Wakamatsu, Japan, 1982, digital (shot on 35mm), 103 min
Yuheisha (Prisoner/Terrorist), Masao Adachi, Japan, 2006, digital, 113 min
Short film program
Seishonen no tameno eiganyumon (Young Person’s Guide to Cinema), Shuji Terayama, Japan, 1974, 16mm (triple projection), 3 min
Satsujin Catalogue (Murder Catalogue), Toshio Matsumoto, Japan, 1975, digital, 20 min
Kaisoroku (Memoir), Michio Okabe, Japan, 1977, digital (shot on 16mm), 22 min
24 Frames Per Second, Takahiko Iimura, Japan, 1975-1978, 16mm, 12 min
Go Hirasawa is a film researcher working on underground and experimental films and avant-garde art movements in 1960s and ‘70s Japan. His most recent publication Japanese Expanded Cinema and Intermedia: Critical Texts of the 1960s (Archive Books) was published in 2020. He also curated the film program “Japanese Expanded Cinema” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2021.
Riot not Diet, Julia Fuhr Mann, Germany, 2018, digital, 17 min
Slap! The Gondola, Marie Losier, USA, 2010, digital, 15 min
Burning Palace, Mara Mattuschka, Austria, 2009, 35mm, 32 min
Phantom Rhapsody, Sarah Pucill, UK, 2010, 16mm, 19 min
Quality Control, Kevin Jerome Everson, USA, 2011, digital, 71 min
Concerning Flight: Five Illuminations in Miniature, Charlotte Pryce, USA, 2004, 16mm, 8 min
Blua, Carolina Charry Quintero, USA/Columbia, 2017, digital, 22 min
Journal and Remarks, David Gatten, USA, 2010, 16mm, 15 min
Laborat, Guillaume Cailleau, Germany, 2014, DCP, 21 min
All Her Beautiful Green Remains in Tears, Amy Cutler, UK, 2018, digital, 11 min
Kim Knowles is an academic and curator based in Wales, UK. She has curated the Black Box strand of the Edinburgh International Film Festival since 2008 and has written numerous books, articles and chapters, including, most recently, Experimental Film and Photochemical Practices (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).
Das Block (The Block), Stefan Kolbe & Chris Wright, Germany, 2006, digital, 75 min
Davor: Phantasiesätze (Fantasy Sentences), Dane Komljen, Germany/Denmark, 2017, digital, 17 min
Terra de ninguém (No Man’s Land), Salomé Lamas, Portugal, 2012, digital, 72 min
Davor: Sieben Mal am Tag beklagen wir unser Los und nachts stehen wir auf, um nicht zu träumen (Seven times a day we bemoan our lot and at night we get up to avoid dreaming), Susann Maria Hempel, Germany, 2014, digital, 17 min
Demain et encore demain / Journal 1995 (Tomorrow And Tomorrow / Diary 1995), Dominique Cabrera, France, 1997, digital, 79 min
Davor: Measures of Distance, Mona Hatoum, UK, 1988, digital, 16 min
Based on Walter Benjamin, the six documentary works in this program can be described as catastrophe films - the catastrophes here are not the imminent, but the given. Events of contemporary history fall under this category just as much as catastrophic shocks in personal lives, and usually the one has something to do with the other. The misery of a Wende loser in East Germany, the chutzpah of a murdering mercenary, and even the psychological crisis of a filmmaking woman are located in the social context. What makes these films political, however, is not least their form. They operate in fields that regularly spark controversial discussions - the depiction of precarious living conditions, the treatment of perpetrators and victims, the depiction of cruelty, the thematization of intimate sensitivities in the first person - and have to deal with the danger of exposure or the risk of navel-gazing. All of them measure proximity and distance in their own way. The fact that they work beyond established formats of representation, do not adhere to the usual rules, question conventions, shake one's own convictions, cause unrest, trigger discomfort, irritate and disturb, that they, in short, challenge one to think makes them in the sense of Amos Vogel: subversive. (Birgit Kohler)
Birgit Kohler is co-director of Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin. From 2002 to 2019, she was a member of the Berlinale Forum selection committee, and as interim director she was responsible for the section's main program in 2019. Her curatorial projects, publications and teaching focus primarily on contemporary documentary filmmaking and a wide range of artistic positions in contemporary international cinema. Most recently, she published "Spielarten des Dokumentarischen – Politik und Ästhetik im Kino von Anja Salomonowitz," in: Isabella Reicher (ed.): Eine eigene Geschichte. Frauen Film Österreich seit 1999 (Sonderzahl, 2020).
The Southern Radicals (a)
Lluvia de jaulas, César González, Argentina, 2019, digital, 82 min
The Southern Radicals (b)
El triunfo de Sodoma, Goyo Anchou, Argentina, 2020, digital, 82 min
The Southern Radicals (c)
Cuatreros, Albertina Carri, Argentina, 2016, digital, 83 min
Flesh and Bites
Cele doua executii ale Maresalului, Radu Jude, Romania, 2018, digital, 10 min
Homenaje a la obra de P.H. Gosse, Pablo Martín Weber, Argentina, 2020, digital, 22 min
AI at War, Florent Marcie, France, 2021, digital, 97 min
Roger Koza (1968) is a film critic, editor of Con los ojos abiertos, anchorman of El cinematógrafo and presenter at Filmoteca. Since 2006, he is curator for the Vitrina section at the Hamburg International Film Festival. Since 2014, art director of the Cosquin International Film Festival (Cordoba) and since 2018, art director of the legendary Doc Buenos Aires. He is the editor of the book Cine y Pensamiento: las charlas de Mar del Plata (2007) and of Cine del mañana (2010). His latest publication is “Faith in Fiction: The Cinema of Miguel Gomes” in: Daniel Ribas, Paulo Cunha (ed.): Reframing Portuguese Cinema in the 21st Century (Curtas Metragens, 2020).
Baalbek, Ghassan Salhab, Akram Zaatari, Mohamed Soueid, Lebanon, 2001, digital, 53 min
Davor: As Far as Yearning, Ghassan Salhab, Mohamed Soueid, Lebanon, 2017, digital, 27 min
Insomnia of a Serial Dreamer, Mohamed Soueid, Lebanon, 2020, digital, 170 min
Nour Ouayda is a filmmaker, film critic and programmer. She is deputy director at Metropolis Cinema Association in Beirut where she also coordinates the Cinematheque Beirut project. She is a co-editor of the Montreal-based online film journal Hors champ. Her films and writing research the practice of drifting in cinema. She is part of the Camelia Committee, a collective that explores hybrid forms of writing for and in cinema.