Blog üzerine II

Bugün burada blog tutmanın bana verdiği zevke dair bir şey keşfettim. Şimdi pek yapmıyorum ama eskiden sık sık okuduğum kitaplardan hoşuma giden parçaları biraz da hatıra niyetine buraya geçiriyordum. Türkçe basılmış kitaplarla aramıza mesafe girmesi bırakmamda etkili oldu. Epeydir bir kitabı önüme açıp, klavyemin altıma kıstırıp, sesli okuyarak yazıya geçirmedim.

Ara sıra bu not defteri gibi kullanmaya çalıştığım blog’a girip bir isim yazıp ya da rastgele bir post açıp bir kitap alıntısı okuyorum. Bu alıntıyı okumak bana genelde yeni bir şey gibi geliyor çünkü okuduğum şeyi hatırlamıyor oluyorum. Bazen kitabı bile unutmuş oluyorum. Durumun beni şaşırtmasının sebebi bana sanki daha önce sevip unuttuğum bir şeyi tekrar karşıma getiriyor oluşu. Belki şimdi okuduğumda saçma bulacağım, belki anlamayacağım, belki yine etkileneceğim. Hepsi de oluyor. Bazen o notu buraya geçiren kendimi küçümsüyorum, bazen neden o alıntıyı geçirdiğimi anlamıyor ya da anlamadan geçirdiğimi düşünüyor, bazen de ah be ne güzel metinmiş diyip tekrar keşfediyorum.

Bunun bir örneğini geçenlerde blogdaki Bayazoğlu, Ergüder Yoldaş ve Normalleşme Üzerine yazısına denk gelip okurken yaşadım. Hayal meyal hatırlıyordum bu pasajı ama detayları kalmamış aklımda. Okuyunca Bayazoğlu ne yapıyor diye merak ettim, epeydir bakmamıştım, yeni bir kitap yazmış Arap Kızı Camdan Bakıyor diye, merak ettim. İyi de bir söyleşisi varmış, şansıma, onu dinledim biraz fikir edinebildim.

Böyle bir not alma pratiği okuyup geçmişte kalan bir kitabın hatırlanmasına dair aşındırıcı bir etki de yapıyor, her şey toz pembe değil. Hiç akademik ya da sistemli bir okur olmadığım için, okuduğum metinlerin ana fikirleri, hipotezleri, soruları pek aklımda kalmıyor. Böyle bir iki uzun pasajı da ayırıp kitabı temsil eden bir şekilde kayda geçirdiğimde sanki kitap bu alıntıdan ibaretmiş gibi bir izlenime mahkum ediyorum kendimi. Neredeyse hiçbir zaman alıntının kendisi kitabı temsil edebilecek kapsamda olmuyor. Daha ziyade kitabın çok sapa bir noktası oluyor hatırlamayı seçtiğim kısım. Örneğin Bauman’ın Küreselleşme kitabından taşıdığım Turistler ve Aylaklar bölümü gibi. Kitabın genel tezlerine katkı yapmak için verilen örneklerden belki de en minör olanlarından. Ama sanki başka bir estetik değer taşıyor gibi hissediyorum. Belki de tekrar baka baka o değeri ben kafamda kurup atfettim. Uzun süre bir diziyi izleyince artık dizi iyi de olsa kötü de olsa karakterlere yapılan duygusal yatırımın sonucu olarak o diziyi hiç izlememiş birine göre farklı bir hisle izlemek gibi.

Bunun adına Blog Üzerine II dedim, geçmişte bir blog alıntısı yapmışım çünkü birincisini birkaç yıl önce Crary’nin 7/24: Geç Kapitalizm ve Uykuların Sonu kitabından yapmışım.

Germany’s Counter-Cinemas, Julia Hertäg (Notes)

I took some notes from Julia Hertäg’s “Germany’s Counter-Cinemas” article published in New Left Review. All the quotations in the notes are from the article:

Hertäg, J. (2022, May/June). Germany’s Counter-Cinemas. New Left Review, 135. https://newleftreview.org/issues/ii135/articles/julia-hertag-germany-s-counter-cinemas


Germany’s Counter-Cinemas

The author gives examples of the export-driven cinema in Germany with the films about coming to terms with its past, containing films about Nazism, the Stasi, the fall of the GDR, and the Red Army Faction. The style: “conventional, Hollywood-style cinematographical narratives” [1] Following the mainstream style conventions, one difference is that these films are partially state/publicly funded. Some quotes about the consequences: films that “stay inside a corset of conventional narrative” or “cineastic low-fat quark”.

Machinery of consensus

Referring to the Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962, which called for free filmmaking for the artists. In the late 1960s, following France’s model, the state started to fund films for their cultural value. Artists whose early works were funded by ZDF or ARD: Fassbinder, Reitz, Kluge, Farocki.

In the 1990s, the competition for a larger audience starts instead of striving for cultural prestige. Meanwhile, the power of ZDF/ARD bureaucracies increases. In general, the films needed state funds together with TV channel co-production. The factors: “in addition to cultural and aesthetic criteria, potential commercial success and promoting the ‘positive development of the industry’ should be key factors in the allocation of funds”. The political/ideological influence comes from the responsibility of the state-TV channels to serve the ‘public interest.’ How do you define it?

The film-funding machinery works, but it is not easy for non-mainstream cinema producers to get into it since it’s against free filmmaking – does that exist anyways? On average, the films have 5-6 maybe more institutions who fund them, more the number more people who intervene in the production process. The production of the films takes 6-7 years. Hard to get approval. “’market-conforming’ bureaucracy” (Merkel) or ‘dictatorship of mediocrity’ (Lars Henrik Gass). A public service aiming for commercial success.

Wrapping political enlightenment in history (Ulrich Köhler) or serving a menu for an international audience with series like Babylon Berlin and Deutschland 83/86/89. On the national TV front, Eldorado KaDeWe: Jetzt ist unsere Zeit. Hertäg’s remark: “… in fact rather uninterested in the era it is depicting; its narratives of sexual liberation, deprivation and excess might as well be set in the here and now”.

Berlin School and after

Directors challenged Germany’s self-image and economic miracle in the 70s and 80s: Fassbinder, Kluge, Reitz, von Trotta. In the 90s and early 2000s, Berlin School was a counter-example of mainstream cinema. The term arose with Schanelec, Petzold, and Arslan being shown in festivals after some stagnant period for alternative filmmakers. It first appeared in Die Zeit in 2001, finding a similarity between the films of these directors: “…a liking for ellipsis and for keeping a distance; a similar way of dealing with space and time; the same diffuse bright light. Most important, ‘all assertion has gone, replaced by observation’; in a country whose filmmakers were ‘diligently learning streamlined storyboarding’, this was a blessing”.

Berlin School:

  • presentist cinema
  • resisting the psychological realism, conventional dramatic structure and well-worn political tropes favoured by the system
  • exploring forms of realism, ‘a sensation of the reality of the present’ (Marco Abel)
  • set ‘in the here and now of unified Germany’ (Marco Abel)
  • low budget, easier to shoot
  • subtle alienation effects
  • loosely bound second generation: Hochhäusler, Grisebach, Heisenberg, Ade, Köhler (~10 directors, ~50 films)
  • styles diverge in time (Hochhäusler)

Hertäg aims to conceptualize “‘Post-Berlin’ cinema of the 2010s and 20s, including recent films by the School’s founding members”. Two trends:

  1. Outward turn
    1. Toni Erdmann (2016): Romania, a multinational corporation
    2. Western (2017): Bulgaria, German workers, construction
    3. Transit (2018): Marseille, re-contextualizing the refugees of the 1940s today
    4. Le Prince (2021): German art world and a businessman from DRC
    5. Giraffe (2022): Polish workers on a Danish Island building a tunnel to Germany
  2. Historical turn: “experimenting with new aesthetic strategies for the representation of the past”
    1. Barbara (2012): the GDR of the early 1980s
    2. Phoenix (2014): post-war Berlin
    3. Undine (2020): present-day Berlin and the world of Romantic mythology
    4. Blutsauger (2022): in 1928
    5. Gold (2013): a German party’s journey to the Klondike of the 1890s
    6. Fabian (2021): Weimar era, based on Erich Kästner’s novel from 1931
    7. Die Andere Heimat (2013): 1840s, with Rhinelanders as economic emigrants
    8. In My Room (2018): the future, resembling a distant past

“The heterogeneity of German counter-cinema over the past decade defies rigid categorization, even in terms of its oppositional stance.”

Outward turns

Grisebach’s film Western is examined thoroughly by Hertäg. Its relation with the ‘western’ genre as an ‘eastern’, masculinity, encounter with the settler/colonialist, Germany in Eastern Europe, water rights, etc. are some core themes. In terms of style: it looks like a documentary, with landscape shots, spontaneity, non-professional actors, and physicality over psychology. A contemporary take on the “trans-border encounters.”

Ade’s film Toni Erdmann “examines managerial-level social stress and the highly gendered world of white-collar immaterial work.” The pressure of the competition, corporate sexism, her father, etc. Ines tries to surrender and fight back. Takes a look at the personal/professional interiors and interactions. A Berlin School rule is followed: “avoid psychology as causality.”

Re-framing past and present

A recent focus of filmmakers draws apart from the focus on the present in early Berlin School films. Petzold is a major example with Barbara, that does not conform to the official narratives of the GDR with extra elements that are lacking in films like Das Leben der Anderen. In Phoenix, the Jewish woman is not recognized by her ex-husband. He betrayed her to the Nazis and now trying to appropriate the heritage by using her as a doppelgänger. Transit and Undine also “indicate a certain urgency in finding new ways of relating past and present that go beyond naturalistic representation.” There are detailed analyses of these films, which I won’t go into here: “The tension between immersion and contemplation, being and seeing, experience and understanding, is always present in Petzold’s films.”

Fractured epochs

Dominik Graf, as an opposite to Petzold, the seduction cinema. He likes popular genres, also worked in TV a lot. He made Dreileben as a dialogue with Petzold and Hochhäusler, not far from the Berlin School. Hertäg looks at his latest, Fabian oder Der Gang vor die Hunde.

A fractured, conflicted, distracted, dark, hand-held, spooky, glance-based, fast-montage filmmaking. Unlike “Babylon Berlin, Graf avoids the iconic sites of the capital.” The opening scene (the long-shot moving from today to past, in a metro station) and the Stolperstein “reminds us of what lies ahead of these characters.”

Capital as a genre

Here, Hertäg starts with Radlmaier’s Blutsauger and mentions L’etat et Moi. Since I noticed this similarity with my shallow knowledge, I’ll block quote this part. After this, one can find an analysis of Blutsauger.

“His graduation film, Selbstkritik eines bürgerlichen Hundes (Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois Dog, 2017) already demonstrated this new approach, shared by others of his cohort, including Max Linz, Radlmaier’s contemporary at the DFFB. Their work explores the boundaries of what is possible within the German funding system, making films with multiple references to theory and cinema history, explicit political analysis combined with comedy and slapstick, and a visual language that on many levels obstructs conventional realism. (In Linz’s L’État et moi (2022), which reverses the coordinates of past, present and future, a time-travelling exile from the Paris Commune lives as a refugee in contemporary Berlin, where he appears as an extra in Les Misérables.)”

Note: See the article for more on Blutsauger analysis.

Different voices

Most films differ from the earlier ones in dealing with the past and transnational matters. Abel was mentioning statis and mobility for the Berlin School, the new wave focuses on capital and labor, or work. They also continue trying alternative ways of filmmaking economically. “While the Berlin School as a ‘school’ may have come to an end, its network of collaboration and exchange continues to exist.” Still, the attempts are mostly individual, a Oberhausen-like manifesto is needed to have drastic changes.


[1] Examples: Good Bye, Lenin! (2003), Der Untergang (Downfall, 2004), Sophie Scholl (2005), Das Leben der Anderen (Lives of Others, 2006), Baader Meinhof Complex (2009), 13 Minutes (2015), Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer (The People vs Fritz Bauer, 2015)

P.S. By the way, I found out that Christoph Hochhäusler has been actively writing a blog called PARALLEL FILM, since 2006. I’m reading it with auto-translate now, let me leave that here too.

1. Türkisches Filmfestival Berlin

There’s a film festival in the city that will show films from Turkey. I wanted to document it here since it’s the first one. I don’t know if the website and online links will be available in the future. The films will be shown in Babylon, a cinema I was curious about but haven’t visited yet. They were showing silent films with an orchestra, that’s how I heard them first and walked around it a lot. But these cinemas have this power that makes them not easy to enter for the first time if there’s no special occasion. I love them, but I’m also scared of them.

I’ve seen Love, Deutschmarks and Death in Berlinale, it was a bumpy ride. I enjoyed Cem Kaya’s both films. Also saw Brother’s Keeper, Auf Einmal, The Announcement, and Something Useful in the past. I plan to watch Amina, Klondike and Ümit Ünal’s new film Love, Spells and All That.

The films:

  • Love, Deutschmarks and Death [Aşk, Mark ve Ölüm]
  • Les Enfants Terribles [Yaramaz Çocuklar]
  • Amina
  • Mimaroğlu: The Robinson of Manhattan Island
  • Pure White [Bembeyaz]
  • It’s All About Peace and Harmony [Dirlik Düzenlik]
  • Something Useful [İşe Yarar Bir Şey]
  • The Announcement [Anons]
  • Brother’s Keeper [Okul Tıraşı]
  • Love, Spells and All That [Aşk, Büyü vs.]
  • Commitment Hasan [Bağlılık Hasan]
  • Ghosts [Hayaletler]
  • Anatolian Leopard [Anadolu Leoparı]
  • Klondike
  • All Of A Sudden [Auf Einmal]
  • Not Knowing [Bilmemek]
  • Silenced Tree [Ceviz Ağacı]

Babylon website: https://babylonberlin.eu/programm/festivals/t%C3%BCrkisches-filmfestival

L’état et moi (2022)

L’état et moi / Der Staat und Ich / The State and Me (watched in Zukunft, as the only audience)

Some plot and tag lines about the film: “A composer named Hans List fought on the barricades of the Paris Commune in 1871. He now wakes up to a new life in the present, moving through Berlin-Mitte without identification” (IMDB), “An anarchic comedy on the origin of German criminal law.” (Berlinale).

It’s the first film I saw by Max Linz. Earlier films include Weitermachen Sanssouci (2019), Ich will mich nicht künstlich aufregen (2014). It was interesting to see it a couple of days after Blutsauger (2021). Their style is in no way similar, but the idea of building an absurd comedy out of history by molding it with the contemporary moment is a shared point of origin. Also, they both heavily lean on leftist tradition, Marx and labor, on the one hand, the Commune, and the law on the other. Maybe finally, both have dozens of meta-references to the history in the dialogues. I have no intention of comparing these two very different films, but I’m also curious if any ideological underpinnings are shared. Just after writing this part, I read Jutta Brendemuhl mentioned it together with the Berlin School discussion in a Berlinale review:

“Together with other (young, male) directors like Julian Radlmaier with his  Berlinale 2021 Encounters film “Bloodsuckers: a Marxist Vampire Comedy” and debut “Self-Criticism of a Bourgeois Dog,” Max Linz might as well proclaim a new Berlin School for the 21st century — perhaps the Berlin School of Sophistic Entertainment. 22 years later, we have moved from Christian Petzold’s left-wing terrorism drama “The State I’m In” to the new formally composed reality of “The State and Me.” (Petzold producer Schramm Film are the producers of L’Etat et Moi.)”

Sophie Rois acts as the composer (or communist) Hans List, and the judge Josephine Praetorius-Camusot who takes charge in List’s trial. Right after the time travel, Hans List quickly commits petty crimes that can be interpreted as terroristic attacks, like throwing a cigarette toward a staff car and burning it. In time, the suspicion around Hans grows, and an advocate paired up with a clumsy intern starts chasing him. The director mentions Jerry Lewis and his film The Errand Boy (1961) as an inspiration and the courtroom movies as examples to avoid. I was thinking of the recent clumsy nephew Greg from the TV series Succession for the intern character. The extreme realist style of Succession looks like the anti-form of L’état et moi but the slapstick comedy of the characters, how they try to take part in a system that’s way larger than them, felt similar. These funny and awkward characters also function well to decipher and reveal the structures.

After some reading, the relation between The Paris Commune, the fictional German communist and composer Hans List (a reference to Hungarian composer Franz Liszt), and the following crime, law, and justice system parody didn’t add up clearly for me. The German Penal code, Strafgesetzbuch, was passed in the same year The Paris Commune seized power following the Franco-Prussian War. The director also briefly references Brecht’s The Days of the Commune, the 10th scene where Bismarck and Jules Favre meet in the Frankfurt Opera House. Also, in the last scene, the play ends with the following setting: “From the walls of Versailles the bourgeoisie watch the end of the Commune through lorgnettes and opera glasses.” [1] The director Max Linz mentions this ending as a potential start for his film, which gives a hint about the following scene:

Some scenes and details about the film that I still remember include the anti-tourist jokes, which look unrelated to the general plot but are still funny. In one of the opening scenes, the intern walks on the street with his suitcase with wheels. The musician woman hears the noise from the window and shouts something like, “Ahh, the tourists.” In the middle of the film, she’s practicing music on the roof of a building on Museum Island. They think of going somewhere to eat, and this time she complains about the lack of restaurants in the area, implying that the existing restaurants are only tourist decors. Berliner Schnauze.

Among the side roles, the security guard, with her love of the smoking ritual, shines like an unexpected role in a play that surprises the audience suddenly with just a couple of lines. I couldn’t find the name of the actress. The main character also rolls tobacco throughout the film, which intrigued me whether the film is interested in depicting some contemporary daily life in the city. The insistence on the slapstick comedy and the tongue twist of the communist/composer feels repetitive on the second and third time but becomes interesting after the fifth. A good example of consistency. The theater-like acting is really good, underlining the power relations at work: the senior and the apprentice, the commander and the aide, or between the two security guards.

Despite the ideological positioning and the questions the film was trying to pose were not that clear for me, it was a nice experience. A lot of fun and political references, inventive filmmaking, and very good acting. Maybe after I see Linz’s other films, I can return to this one again.


[1] Bertholt Brecht, The Days of the Commune (1949), digitalized by RevSocialist for SocialistStories, p. 126.

Further reading (for me):

  • https://www.cineuropa.org/en/newsdetail/422197/
  • https://cineuropa.org/en/interview/421999/
  • https://www.berlinale.de/en/archive-selection/archive-2022/programme/detail/202201943.html
  • https://blog.goethe.de/arthousefilm/archives/1042-Berlilnale-2022-LEtat-et-Moi-review.html
  • https://www.critic.de/film/l-etat-et-moi-16100/
  • WAS TUT SICH – IM DEUTSCHEN FILM? // Zu Gast im Kino: Regisseur Max Linz mit L’ETAT ET MOI (2022): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhVWdCsVQBY
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strafgesetzbuch
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Prussian_War
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Lewis

Kodda Düşlemek | Dreaming in Code – Rob Lucas (Çeviri)

Rob Lucas’ın 2010’da New Left Review’da yazdığı kişisel ve politik “Dreaming in Code” makalesini yıllar önce keyfine çevirmeye başlamıştık Hüseyincan ile. Yıllar sonra Praksis’in “Dijital Kapitalizm Dedikleri” sayısı çıkaracağını duyunca acaba orada yayımlayabilir miyiz diye Hüseyincan sormuş. Üzerinde bir daha çalıştık, arkadaşlarımıza yolladık, onlar düzelttiler. O kadar mutlu olmuştum ki arkadaşlarımın vakit ayırıp okuması ve önerilerde bulunması üzerine, o noktada yayımlanmayacak olsa bile bana yetmişti mutluluk. Praksis de epey öneri ve katkı sundu gönderdikten sonra, sağolsunlar. Bir şeyler öğrendik çeviri yapmaya dair. Şimdi yayımlanıyor, yeni sayısı Eylül’de çıkıyormuş Praksis’in, #59. Dipnot’un sitesinden indirimli satın alınabiliyor.

Dipnot bülteninden alıntılarsam, “… bu sayıda, dijital teknolojileri yücelten fütürist ve ütopyacı bakış açılarına karşı dijital kapitalizmde üretim, dolaşım ve tüketim süreçlerindeki çelişkilere ve dönüşen emek süreçlerine odaklanmayı amaçlıyoruz. “Dijital kapitalizm” kavramına da eleştirel bir yerden bakmak için bu sayıya “Dijital Kapitalizm Dedikleri” başlığını uygun gördük” yazmışlar. Ursula Huws söyleşisi var, ben onun kitabından kısa bir pasajı blog’a eklemiştim eskiden, çok iyiydi Küresel Dijital Ekonomide Emek kitabı. Yazılım, sağlık, gözetleme, pandemi, estetik ve müşterekler üzerine metinler var sayıda. Twitter’da birisi “Rob Lucas’ın ‘Dreaming in Code’ makalesinin tercüme edilmesi de çok iyi olmuş.” demiş, amanın 💚 Başından azıcık paylaşayım. İlk cümleleri uzun ve zor gelmişti, denedik. Metnin başlığının çevirisi üzerine baya düşündük, tartıştık ve sonunda buna karar verdik, Kodda Düşlemek:

“Bu sabah, uyku ile uyanıklık arasında, rüyaların rüya olduğunun farkına varılabildiği uyanmanın hemen öncesi bir anda yine kodda düşlediğimi fark ettim. Son birkaç haftadır aralıklarla başıma geliyor bu durum; aslında bilinçdışımın kıvrımlarında dönüp duran içeriğin çoğu zaman farkında oluyorum, mesleğimle soyut bir biçimde bağlantılı bir içerik bu. Çağrı merkezinde çalıştığım dönem uyku ile uyanıklık arasında sürüklenirken kulağıma gelen sesler aklımda; arkadaşlarımın uykularında fazla mesai yaptıklarını anlattıkları hikayeleri de anımsıyorum –süpermarket kasalarının tekrar eden bip sesleri ile bölünen geceleri. Ama şu ayrımı yapmak gerekir; iş ile ilgili rüya görmek ayrı, işin mantığına dair rüya görmek ayrı şeyler…”