I had an excellent time in Berlin. The screening and co-presentation with Sebastien Lutgert at the Kino Arsenal was near full-capacity and much of the audience stayed on afterwards to mingle and talk about cinema in ways I rarely experience even in New York City (will have to take steps to address that). I was surprised by how well the internet videos held up when projected digitally on the big screen (even the ones that were ripped off the internet). I was also surprised that the Kunst der Vermittlung project team wrote several critical essays analyzing a number of the videos in the program. These essays are all in German, but I'll attempt to produce some coherent translations with the help of tools available online. Here are a couple of videos documenting my presentation, courtesy of Martina Lunzer:
0:50 - Introduction and origin of Shooting Down Pictures project 4:20 - Introduction of videos in program
0:00 - "Why aren't there more of these movies on the internet?" 3:30 - Issues with YouTube, copyright and fair use
Unfortunately I didn't have enough free space on the little Flip to film Sebastien Lutgert's presentation, which was in German. The most eye-opening portion of his presentation was his website 0xdb, which, to paraphrase the description on the website, "uses a variety of publicly accessible resources, like search engines and file-sharing networks, to automatically collect information about, and actual images and sounds from, a rapidly growing number of movies. What the 0xdb provides is, essentially, full text search within movies, and instant previews of search results." One really unique feature is that it offers a frame-by-frame visual timeline of each film in its database, resulting in a visual re-representation of the film that resembles abstract art:
Saturday I was back at work on another Shooting entry which should be up later this week. I also assisted Mina Lunzer with her current project, a visual and textual study of Vienna's Prater, made famous in films such as The Third Man and Erich von Stroheim's The Wedding March. She recently published an article about the Prater in film in the newest issue of Senses of Cinema.
On Sunday I mixed work and play, starting off with recording a commentary track with local critics and programmers Michael Baute (of Kunst der Vermittlung) and Ekkehard Knörer of Cargo Magazine for a planned video essay on Helmut Kautner's Under the Bridges. Then we had a sunny outdoor lunch in the hip Kreuzberg neighborhood with two other members of the Kunst der Vermittlung team, Volker Pantenburg and Stefanie Schlüter. There was a good deal of discussion about the New Berlin School film movement that has made an impact on German cinema over the past decade, including films by Christoph Hochhausler, whom I also had the pleasure of meeting in Berlin. I for one would love to see a New Berlin School film series programmed by one of the theaters in New York. Finally Michael accompanied me on part two of "Helmut Kautner Day" with a boatside tour under the bridges of the Spree River, from Alexanderplatz to the Tiergarten. Hopefully the video footage I shot is good enough to make its way to the video essay on Kautner's film.
Also a shout-out to David Hudson, who was at the screening and did his part to promote it at The IFC Daily; and Dirk Schaefer, a long-time sound designer on experimental films by Matthias Müller and Peter Tscherkassky.
So, back to New York and the old routine - but with high spirits and much encouragement received from colleagues in Berlin, I'm going to think of some ways to boost the commingling of the cinephile community here, especially as the long fun days of summer are approaching.