Film Series

Already in the 1960s, the North American avant-garde and New American Cinema found their way to Germany. An influential player in bringing these films to Berlin was Arsenal employee Alf Bold, who passed away 25 years ago from complications related to AIDS. Bold’s interest in the activities of the Friends of the German Film Archive – as the Arsenal was known back then – began at the end of the 1960s, and when the association found its first permanent home in the Arsenal cinema in Welserstraße in 1971, Bold started working as an usher. His passions included not only film but also music, which led to the development of a close relationship with Erika and Ulrich Gregor, the founders of the “Friends” – and consequently his increased involvement in Arsenal programing and Forum activities, particularly in the presentation of avant-garde and experimental films. Bold responded to a pressing need to advocate this type of cinema, which meant so much to him. In 1978, Arsenal dedicated a film program to Anthology Film Archives, which the notes described as “the first film museum solely dedicated to film as art.” This program was comprised of films by Vertov, Eisenstein, Dreyer, Epstein, Murnau, Deren, Buñuel, Bresson, Mekas, Brakhage, Snow, Frampton, Sharits, Jacobs, Landow, Mangolte and Rainer. “Anthology also inspired Berlin’s Arsenal, despite views that only somewhat overlapped with the strictly avant-garde and arts-form oriented concept of Anthology.”

Alf Bold lived in the apartment block opposite the Arsenal. Directly adjacent to the cinema he set up a 16mm film projector and a couple of chairs in an office and transformed it into a theaterette. Every Monday he presented a series, “Avant-garde in Arsenal 2”, and thus A2 was established as a regular second screen, staffed personally by Bold.

For Bold, the selection of the films was inseparable from their combination within the programs. Working with a very broad notion of the genre, he coupled experimental and underground films from all around the world, placing great importance on an overarching aesthetic narrative. Each program told its own story about cinematic forms, developments in the medium, and the world. When viewing these programs in light of today, something else becomes apparent: they present an array of perspectives, of which one is distinctly feminist, as evidenced by the comprehensive number of films programmed in which women are represented.

In 1982, Bette Gordon invited Bold to New York for one year to head programming at the Collective for Living Cinema. Bold gladly accepted the invitation and, there, he intensified his relations to the American avant-garde and underground scene, while also promoting German experimental films, albeit with minor success, as he himself had to admit. At the same time, he began to extend Arsenal’s collection by securing titles to build a strong focus on New American Cinema. Due to his growing network of filmmakers, many titles were made available. Before Bold passed away, and to continue this work, he bequeathed Arsenal an Experimental Film Fonds, from which films were acquired for several years.

This series comprised outright remakes of programs originally curated and presented by Alf Bold (mainly on Mondays in A2). Moreover, there was a spotlight on filmmakers whose work Bold highly respected. Other programs showcased films that were associated with Bold’s avant-garde collection and made their way into Arsenal’s archive. Most of the selected filmmakers have written for Film Culture at one point, or their films have been reviewed in the magazine.

All films were screened as 16mm analogue prints, except where otherwise mentioned.

July 8 – 22, Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst, Berlin

Program

Date
Location
Title
So 8 Juli
08:00 pm
Opening

   

Mo 9 Juli
07:30 pm
Di 10 Juli
06:00 pm
Do 12 Juli
07:00 pm
Do 12 Juli
09:00 pm
Fr 13 Juli
07:00 pm
Fr 13 Juli
09:00 pm
Sa 14 Juli
06:30 pm
Sa 14 Juli
08:30 pm
Marie Menken

     

Mo 16 Juli
07:00 pm
Mo 16 Juli
09:00 pm
Di 17 Juli
07:00 pm
Di 17 Juli
09:00 pm
Mi 18 Juli
07:00 pm
Fr 20 Juli
07:00 pm
Nan Goldin

    

Fr 20 Juli
09:00 pm
Sa 21 Juli
08:00 pm
Wavelength

     

So 22 Juli
07:00 pm
Portraits (I)     
So 22 Juli
09:30 pm