Die Eingeladenen / The Invitees [Sinema Transtopia]

I found an institution that curates films and discussions around those films that they’ve selected. I attended three film screenings there which were about the migrant workers in Germany. Just in case they might remove the schedules from their website, I’ll annotate the ones I watched there. I really liked the fact that they don’t screen good films but taking these films as artifacts that one can talk about. It’s good to watch terrible films too, only if you’re in a movie theater where they present 16mm film.

The best one I saw was a documentary called Geld fürs Brot (1994) by Serap Berrakkarasu and Gisela Tuchtenhagen that tells the story of women workers in an industrial canned fish factory. A film that was able to convey the joy of the people working together with the smell of the fish that permeates into the clothes and body. I found the interview questions of the filmmakers full of directives towards the pain and despair. However, the sincerity they achieved was remarkable. There was a weekend scene where one of the workers cooked some food and there were a lot of leftovers. She was insisting the film crew about taking the extra food with them while leaving. That felt like a great example of engagement and relationship that is built during a film. Another good one was a scene during dinner with a couple where the woman was complaining about the gender roles to the filmmakers and her husband having no idea about what the discussion is about. She was telling the filmmaker, “You understand me, he doesn’t.”

I also watched some really weird institutional education and integration films that document how indoctrination works for migrants in asymmetric power relations. One of the films about teaching the rules inside the factory reminded me Staplerfahrer Klaus – Der erste Arbeitstag (2000, oh, now on YouTube). When I first watched it years ago, I was sure that this film was mocking some real-life educational content, glad that I watched what it mocks.

Here is their website: https://bi-bak.de/en/bi-bakino
Here is their about us: https://bi-bak.de/en/about-us


Good Luck in Germany, 01.10.2021

Guten Tag (Episode 26)
FDR 196?, 15 min. german OV, 16mm

Tipps für den Alltag II, Ausländische Arbeitnehmer im Industriebetrieb
FDR 196?, 12 min. OV with german subtitles, 16mm

Viel Glück in Deutschland (Episode 2)
Thilo Philipp / Uwe Krauss, FDR 197?, 15 min. german OV, 16mm

Zu Gast in unserem Land: Kemal
Herbert Ballmann, FDR 1977, 50 min. german OV

“I am a stranger here,” “I am a foreigner,” “I don’t speak German” are all phrases that can be learned in the Goethe Institute’s elaborately produced 26-part language course series, Guten Tag (Good Day). With a great deal of artistic imagination, scenes around “Language, Culture, Germany” are staged and slowly intoned in an effort to bring the newly arrived closer. Viel Glück in Deutschland (Good Luck in Germany), on the other hand, prepares employees for everyday life in the workplace with vocabulary such as “time card,” “personnel office” and “the foreman is waiting”. In Tipps für den Alltag (Everyday Tips), the portrayal of what is characterized as typically German and represented as the ideal norm also has a comic effect, while the depictions of foreign workers can certainly be perceived as problematic. Similar patterns can be found in the educational film series produced by the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Zu Gast in unserem Land (A Guest in our Country). Here, younger generations belonging to the social majority are prepared for confrontations with the so-called “guests”. Following the screening, there will be a discussion in which we dissect the persistent stereotypes unreflectively projected onto later generations of people with an immigration history and the racist behaviors that are subsequently internalized. (ML)

Nurse Kim’s Message Home + Ekmek Parası, 02.10.2021

Nurse Kim’s Message Home
FRG 197?, 16 min. OV

Ekmek Parası – Geld fürs Brot
Serap Berrakkarasu / Gisela Tuchtenhagen, Deutschland 1994, 86 min. OV with english subtitles

In Ekmek Parası – Geld fürs Brot (Money for Bread), the money doesn’t stink, but the fish does. A smell that is difficult to wash off. Women from Turkey and Mecklenburg work in the fish factory in Lübeck. Here, the camera acts as accomplice: Serap Berrakkarasu and cinematographer Gisela Tuchtenhagen establish a closeness to the workers who candidly describe (in Turkish) the working conditions at the factory, answering questions about life, death and dreams. The supporting film, Nurse Kim’s Message Home, produced by Hoechst AG, is accompanied by a paternalistic voiceover and follows a group of Korean nurses working in Frankfurt after the recruitment agreement with South Korea in 1971. (MB)

Bağrıyanık Ömer ve Güzel Zeynep + Geyikler, Annem ve Almanya, 08.10.2021

Bağrıyanık Ömer ve Güzel Zeynep
Yücel Çakmaklı, Turkey 1978, 30 min. OmdU / OV with English subtitles

Geyikler, Annem ve Almanya
Tuncer Baytok, Turkey 1987, 71 min. OmdU / OV with English subtitles

Two figures are particularly central to migration: those who return home and those who remain at home. Despite this fact, both are often forgotten in discussions about migration. With two films found in the archive of the Turkish state broadcaster TRT and shown for the first time in Germany, this film evening is dedicated to these two often neglected figures. In Bağrıyanık Ömer ile Güzel Zeynep, Ömer, a returned migrant worker, confronts his wife Zeynep about adultery in front of her lover: Poetically he shares the memories of his time abroad. The result is an idiosyncratic view of 1970s Munich from the perspective of an immigrant worker whose self-image has been wounded. In Geyikler, Annem ve Almanya, Nigar recapitulates her childhood in Turkey during the absence of her migrant father. Memories of life in the village, the move to Istanbul, longings for the father’s indefinite return, and the mother’s sudden departure for Germany reveal the effects of migration on a child’s life. (ÖA)

In cooperation with Philipps-Universität Marburg, funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation).

Titane (2021) | Notes

Some definitions

Titane: A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys.
Love Is a Dog from Hell: Charles Bukowski, 1977 – a raw, lyrical, exploration of the exigencies, heartbreaks, and limits of love.
Mechanophilia: a paraphilia involving a sexual attraction to machines such as bicycles, motor vehicles, helicopters, ships, and aeroplanes. [Picabia, Marinetti]

The atmosphere at the cinema

The rules about the empty seats during the pandemic were removed today at the film theater. All the seats were occupied. There were some high-pitch laughs and one or two deep breaths en mass. When the film ended, the general audience’s attitude was wry. Not affected by the film but joking about it. It might also be a defense mechanism towards the tactile experience that film offers that is hard to swallow and digest. Maybe we all will encounter Alexia in a transient dream sequence or during a real-life moment, where she passes by and hopefully does not kill us.

Reminiscences

I’ll start with personal reminiscences about the other films to avoid writing and thinking about them. Some of them might be the first references for the others:

  • Les garçons sauvages (2017, transformation not with metals but with nature)
  • Rundskop (2011, steroids, needles, muscles, the father)
  • Crash (1996, almost all the other Cronenbergs, cars, sexuality, and body)
  • The Elephant Man (1980, the gaze of the others, monstrosity)
  • Gräns (2018, alienation, still finding your love and peer)
  • Teströl és lélekröl (2017, a romantic and calm version of this love story)

Notes

For me, it was a film about heavy transformation, strangeness, uncanny desires, acceptance, and love. The transformation was between sexes and from flesh to metals. Despite starting like a Fast and Furious movie, the desire to fuck cars, to kill people, to hate dad, to have something bushing out in the body subverts the protagonist. And the subversion opens up new spaces for her.

Since it’s a French arthouse sci-fi thriller gore drama, there are some tricks taken from genre movies that cause sudden laughter (how many more people do I need to kill?) or make the fur fly (hit the nose, Jack). They don’t add to the exploration that the film is after but perhaps helps it be more audience-friendly.

The soundtrack is from Jim Williams, the interpretation of Sarabande was shivering. The soundtracks had become more and more impressive for me lately, maybe because I re-started to experience them in the movie theater again. It was similar in my childhood too, I was dreaming about shitty movies just because they had such seductive trailers, with tempting audio design. Years later, I’ve learned about the marketing tricks in the trailers. Nevertheless, before the film, we watched the trailer of House of Gucci, which also had a tantalizing soundtrack. Recently, Matrix IV also hit it with the White Rabbit, the holy song mentions even a chessboard.

I related with Alexia and the firefighter guy who adopted him. The narrative of the characters dealing with their body or the filmmaker dealing with how the characters are dealing with their bodies is a rare topic to find in the stories. Most of the time, the great bodies of the actors and actresses are already given and they don’t disintegrate throughout the film. That’s why I thought of Rundskop. For example, one of the popular bodily transformations that took place before the films such as The Machinist (2004) or Monster (2003) felt like the easy ways while watching Titane [my browser extension that helps me for writing in English tries to correct Titane as Titanic].

As an addition to this bodily transformation, how Alexia is handling the changes in her body was adventitious. In general, when people encounter negative changes in their bodies —I don’t know what they do when they see positive changes, probably praise themselves— they ask others and finally see a doctor. However, I believe, it’s also not really rare that people taking action on their bodies to fix or delay these symptoms. Scratching the skin/tissue might be the first and foremost instinctive attempt. Nevertheless, once you damage the body or it transformed weirdly itself, then you need to hide it. The silk gauze or different kinds of creams step in at that moment. However, this practice of hiding is never eternal, it plays an intricate game with distance and intimacy. I won’t forget the traces of the cloth on Alexia’s body.

I tried but couldn’t reach the core of the story which is probably —getting help from Docornau’s interviews— about the possibilities of being human and seeking/finding connection and love. One of the reasons that I liked the film was its resourcefulness in terms of some fundamental themes. Let me list those and say goodbye: gruesome child play with the father, paternal guilt, alienation, hurting oneself, unconditional protection and love, extraordinary coincidence, unconscious violence, burning the house, hiding in the hoodie, dancing under the flags, needle in the butt, metal in the spine. The images that last.

 

Minari

The Rollberg chronicles: Minari. 7.5 on IMDB, 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. 6 Oscar nominations and the great grandmother Youn Yuh-jung wins the Best Supporting Actress Award, surpassing Colman, Close, and Bakalova.

At its simplest, it felt like a well-formed melodrama of a migrant Korean family trying to make a good life for themselves in 1980s, Arkansas. The beauty of the film was probably in its modest details. The mundane chick sexing job, frustration about the trailer house (maybe marking the idea of groundlessness in popular culture, together with Nomadland), concerning heart problems of the little kid, idiosyncratic grandmother were the constituents that made the film unique.

Was the cross-carrying sidekick Paul a second-level metaphor of Jacob’s farming dream? By any means, the film challenged the question of the community for me, with the funny but requisite church scenes.

A dramatic fracture in the film was triggered by a fire. That reminded me of an old friend telling a story about the youthfulness that concluded with yet another fortuitous fire. It’s probably a common theme in literature and film. Steven Yeun knows it better, from the Burning, probably.

Some recent books on cinema (I)

I’m still copy-pasting the shallow content that I gather from my recent Google searches here — to the desolate library. Day by day I’m getting more and more superficial. One day I’ll melt into the air. Like many other things that I haven’t been doing recently in the last few years, I wasn’t also reading any books on cinema or watching many films. The latter, I kind of restarted lately, warming up now. I also visited Odeon in Hauptstraße and wailed while Mr. Hopkins was looking for his watch or his daughter’s painting. It will stay next to the other play-like films I’ve seen in the past like Sleuth (1972), My Dinner with Andre (1981), The Man from Earth (2007), Carnage (2011), The Sunset Limited (2011), or Amour (2012). I guess we’ll see way more family drama by Florian Zeller in the future.

Then I thought I can do some book searches with ‘cinema’ in their titles and shortlist some books to take a look at in the indefinite future. Every once in a while these kinds of random searches end up with little treasures. I was honestly expecting more books with a theme like ‘the death of the cinema’ but I didn’t encounter that particular branch per se, not sure if it exists anyway. There are some ‘crisis’ books though.


Chateau D., Moure J. (2020). Post-cinema: Cinema in the Post-art Era, Amsterdam University Press.

“Post-cinema designates a new way of making films. It is time to ask whether this novelty is complete or relative and to evaluate to what extent this novation represents a unitary current or multiple ways. The book proposes to integrate the post-cinema question within the post-art question in order to study the new way of making filmic images in new conditions more or less remote from the dispositif of the theater and in closer relationship with contemporary art. The issue will be considered at three levels: the impression of post-art on “regular” films; the “relocation” (Cassetti) of the same films that can be seen using devices of all kinds, in conditions more or less remote from the dispositif of the theater; parallel to the integration of contemporary art in “regular” cinema, the integration of cinema into contemporary art in all kinds of forms of creation and exhibition.” [from De Gruyter]

PART I A Tribute to Agnès Varda
PART II The End of Cinema?
PART III Technological Transformations
PART IV New Dispositif, New Conditions
PART V Transformations in Film Form
Part VI Post-cinema, an Artists’ Affair


Lahiji, N. (2021). Architecture, philosophy, and the pedagogy of Cinema: From Benjamin to Badiou, foreword by McGowan, T., Routledge: London & NY.

“Philosophers on the art of cinema mainly remain silent about architecture. Discussing cinema as ‘mass art’, they tend to forget that architecture, before cinema, was the only existing ‘mass art’. In this work author Nadir Lahiji proposes that the philosophical understanding of the collective human sensorium in the apparatus of perception must once again find its true training ground in architecture.

Building art puts the collective mass in the position of an ‘expert critic’ who identifies themselves with the technical apparatus of architecture. Only then can architecture regain its status as ‘mass art’ and, as the book contends, only then can it resume its function as the only ‘artform’ that is designed for the political pedagogy of masses, which originally belonged to it in the period of modernity before the invention of cinema.” [from the book]

1 Returning to the philosophy of masses: Benjamin
and Badiou
2 From the photographic moment of critical philosophy
to the optical unconscious
3 Mass art and impurity: Reading Benjamin with Badiou
4 In and out of Plato’s cave
5 Theory of distraction: Tactile and optical
6 Poverty of experience
7 Dialectics and mass
8 The proletarian mise-​en-​scène
Epilogue: The art of the masses in the age of pornography


Attfield, S., (2020), Class on Screen: The Global Working Class in Contemporary Cinema, Palgrave Macmillan.

This book provides an analysis of the global working class on film and considers the ways in which working-class experience is represented in film around the world. The book argues that representation is important because it shapes the way people understand working-class experience and can either reinforce or challenge stereotypical depictions. Film can shape and shift discussions of class, and this book provides an interdisciplinary study of the ways in which working-class experience is portrayed through this medium. It analyses the impact of contemporary films such as Sorry To Bother You, This is England and Le Harve [sic] that focus on working class life. Attfield demonstrates that the global working class are characterised by diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexuality but that there are commonalities of experience despite geographical distance and cultural difference. The book is structured around themes such as work, culture, diasporas, gender and sexuality, and race. [from Palgrave]

1 Introduction
2 Work and Unemployment
3 Working-Class Culture
4 Immigration and Diaspora
5 Gender and Sexualities
6 Race and Class in Australian Indigenous Film
7 Afterword


Kalmár, G. (2020). Post-Crisis European Cinema: White Men in Off-Modern Landscapes, Palgrave Macmillan.

This book explores the cinematic representations of the pervasive socio-cultural change that the 21st century brought to Europe and the world. Discussing films such as I, Daniel Blake, Cold War and Jupiter’s Moon, it puts distinctively “post-crisis”, gendered representations in a complex, theoretically informed and socially committed interdisciplinary perspective that maps the newly emerging formations of masculinity at a time of rapid socio-economic transition. Kalmar argues that the series of crises that started with the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed some of our fundamental expectations about history, debunked many of our grand narratives, and thus changed the cultural logic of our (thoroughly globalized) civilization. The book focuses on the ways cinema reflects, interprets and shapes a rapidly changing world: the hot issues of the times, the new formations of identity, and the shifts in cinematic representation. This is an interdisciplinary research that is equally interested in what new the 21st century brought about, most specifically to Europe and to its white men, as in film and its responses to these socio-cultural changes. [from Palgrave]

1 Introduction: Post-Crisis Europe, White Masculinity and
Art Cinema [The Post-Crisis and the Off-Modern, White Masculinity, Post-Crisis European Cinema]
2 Rites of Retreat and the Cinematic Resignification of European Cultural Geography [The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner, Delta, Suntan, Conclusions: Men in Retreat]
3 Unprocessed Pasts [Amen, Days of Glory, Cold War]
4 Addiction and Escapism [Billy Elliot, T2 Trainspotting, Kills on Wheels]
5 Narratives of Migration [Terraferma, Morgen, Jupiter’s Moon]
6 The Lads of the New Right [The Wave, This Is England, July 22]
7 Angry Old Men [Tyrannosaur, I, Daniel Blake, A Man Called Ove]
8 Conclusions


And some other interesting books that have rather specific focus:

  • Turquety, B. (2019). Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub:” Objectivists” in Cinema, Amsterdam University Press.
  • Lewis, I., & Canning, L. (ed., 2020). European Cinema in the Twenty-First Century, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Baer, H. (2021). German Cinema in the Age of Neoliberalism, Amsterdam University Press.
  • Papanikolaou, D. (2021). Greek Weird Wave: A Cinema of Biopolitics, Edinburgh University Press.

 

German Literature Book Prizes

I took note of the recent awards for the literature written in German. Only some of them are translated to English for now.

German Book Prize [web]

Year Author Book (DE) Book (EN) Publisher
2020 Anne Weber Annette, ein Heldinnenepos Matthes & Seitz
2019 Saša Stanišić Herkunft Where You Come From Luchterhand Literaturverlag
2018 Inger-Maria Mahlke Archipel Rowohlt
2017 Robert Menasse Die Hauptstadt The Capital Suhrkamp
2016 Bodo Kirchhoff Widerfahrnis Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt

Leipzig Book Fair Prize – Fiction [web]

Year Author Book (DE) Book (EN) Publisher
2021 Iris Hanika Echos Kammern Literaturverlag Droschl
2020 Lutz Seiler Stern 111 Suhrkamp
2019 Anke Stelling Schäfchen im Trockenen Higher Ground Verbrecher
2018 Esther Kinsky Hain. Geländeroman Suhrkamp
2017 Natascha Wodin Sie kam aus Mariupol Rowohlt
2016 Guntram Vesper Frohburg Schöffling & Co.

Swiss Book Prize [web]

Year Author Book (DE) Book (EN) Publisher
2020 Anna Stern das alles hier, jetzt Salis
2019 Sibylle Berg GRM. Brainfuck KiWi-Taschenbuch
2018 Peter Stamm Die sanfte Gleichgültigkeit der Welt FISCHER Taschenbuch
2017 Jonas Lüscher Kraft Beck C. H.
2016 Christian Kracht Die Toten The Dead FISCHER Taschenbuch
2015 Monique Schwitter Eins im Andern FISCHER Taschenbuch

The Georg Büchner Prize [web]

Year Author Praise
2021 Clemens J. Setz loading…
2020 Elke Erb Ihr gelingt es wie keiner anderen, die Freiheit und Wendigkeit der Gedanken in der Sprache zu verwirklichen…
deepl: She succeeds like no other in realizing the freedom and agility of thought in language….
2019 Lukas Bärfuss …der mit hoher Stilsicherheit und formalem Variationsreichtum stets neu und anders existentielle Grundsituationen des modernen Lebens erkundet.
deepl: …who, with a high degree of stylistic confidence and a wealth of formal variation, constantly explores the basic existential situations of modern life in new and different ways.
2018 Terézia Mora …ihre eminente Gegenwärtigkeit und lebendige Sprachkunst, die Alltagsidiom und Poesie, Drastik und Zartheit vereint.
deepl: …her eminent presence and lively linguistic art, which combines everyday idiom and poetry, drasticness and tenderness.
2017 Jan Wagner …dessen Gedichte spielerische Sprachfreude und meisterhafte Formbeherrschung vereinen.
deepl: …whose poems combine a playful joy of language and a masterful command of form.
2016 Marcel Beyer Seine Texte widmen sich der Vergegenwärtigung deutscher Vergangenheit mit derselben präzisen Hingabe, mit der sie dem Sound der Jetztzeit nachspüren.
deepl: His texts are dedicated to the visualization of the German past with the same precise devotion with which they trace the sound of the present.
2015 Rainald Goetz … der sich mit einzigartiger Intensität zum Chronisten der Gegenwart und ihrer Kultur gemacht hat. Er hat sie beschrieben, zur Anschauung gebracht und zu Wort kommen lassen, er hat sie gefeiert und verdammt und mit den Mitteln der Theorie analysiert.
deepl: … who with unique intensity has made himself a chronicler of the present and its culture. He has described it, brought it to view and made it speak, he has celebrated and condemned it and analyzed it with the means of theory.