Together with the screening of Orphea (Alexander Kluge & Khavn, 2020), this evening links up with the two-part program ‘Kluge/Schlingensief’ that Art Cinema OFFoff is organizing on 4 and 11 October in Sphinx Cinema and Kunsthal Gent. Christoph Schlingensief considered German filmmaker and writer Alexander Kluge (1932) to be one of his mentors, but the inspiration was mutual. Kluge conducted numerous interviews with him over the years, often as part of the nearly thirty TV productions they made together. With his films, Schlingensief followed in the tradition of the ‘Neuer Deutscher Film’, which Kluge co-founded in the early 1960s, until Schlingensief explicitly broke with this legacy in 1997 with Die 120 Tage von Bottrop. Both artists share a relentless questioning of the German past and its consequences in the present.
“My friend Christoph Schlingensief is a unique artist. Schlingensief either never lived or he is not dead. I met him for the first time in 1993 at the funeral of Alfred Edel, one of the great character actors of the New German Cinema that had acted in my films and in the films and revues of Schlingensief. The dead are not dead. I agree that he is watching what we do now. We continue to drill on his behalf. Christoph Schlingensief is still very much alive.” (Alexander Kluge)
Christoph Schlingensief’s films, performances, installations and provocative theater, television and opera productions shaped the cultural and political discourse in Germany for two decades before his death in 2010 at just 49 years of age. Schlingensief – A Voice that Shook the Silence (2020) traces his development from being a pubescent ﬁlmmaker with an artistic bloodlust to his period as a revolutionary stage director in Berlin and Bayreuth, ﬁnally advancing to become Germany’s “national artist”, purportedly venerated by all and invited to create the German Pavilion for the 2011 Venice Biennale. The ﬁlm explores Schlingensief’s untiring and ultimately inexhaustible love-hate relationship with Germany, its high culture, and petite-bourgeoisie sentiments – which he attributed to himself more than anyone else. Schlingensief – A Voice that Shook the Silence is the first film that attempts to exhaustively document the vast spectrum of this exceptional artist’s oeuvre.
Schlingensief – A Voice that Shook the Silence is a portrait that doesn’t explain, but rather creates connections and allows the personality of Schlingensief and his work to be experienced. One of today’s sharpest editors, Bettina Böhler, assembled and directed this film exclusively from archival footage. As an editor for Schlingensief (Terror 2000, Die 120 Tage von Bottrop), Christian Petzold (Yella, Jerichow, Barbara, Phoenix, Transit, Ondine), Angela Schanelec (Marseille, Nachmittag) and Valeska Grisebach (Western), Böhler played a key role in the development of the Berliner Schule, the new wave of German cinema since the beginning of the 21st century.
After the international premiere at the Berlinale and selections at DOK.fest München, the Viennale, Sheffield Doc/Fest and Doclisboa, Art Cinema OFFoff presents the Belgian premiere of the film.
After the documentary, we screen four early short films by Schlingensief, including his very first film, made at the age of eight with an 8mm camera.
This program is curated in collaboration with Cis Bierinckx.
The evening will be introduced by Klaas Tindemans. He is a lecturer and research coordinator at RITCS and has written about Schlingensief’s work on multiple occasions, including his book De dramatische samenleving: een politieke cultuurgeschiedenis (Pelckmans, 2019 ) and in the collection Art and activism in the age of globalization (NAi Publishers, 2011).