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Photo: German Chainsaw Massacre / Schlingensief © Filmgalerie 451

GOETHE FILMS: Schlingensief: Approach those you fear

Presented by the Goethe-Institut
May 10 + 15 + 17

Iconoclast, enfant terrible, agent provocateur. While many would call German filmmaker-performer-activist Christoph Schlingensief (1960-2010) fearless, he himself said shortly before his untimely death that to make good work, “I have to approach those I fear”. GOETHE FILMS features core Schlingensief projects that tackle the ghosts of Europe's past, present and future – fascism, capitalism, division and reunification – in his signature no-holds-barred splatter style.

Series co-presented with the Laser Blast Film Society & KinoVortex

May 10, 6:30pm: THE 120 DAYS OF BOTTROP (Germany 1997, 60 min) by Christoph Schlingensief
Oskar Roehler (screenplay), starring Margit Carstensen, Irm Hermann, Volker Spengler, Udo Kier, Sophie Rois, Martin Wuttke, with music by Helge Schneider.

Introduced by Bruce LaBruce

The survivors of the old Fassbinder crew (actors Carstensen, Hermann, Spengler and many others, playing themselves, alongside cameos by Kitten Natividad, Roland Emmerich and Helmut Berger) get together one last time to make the very last New German Film: a remake of Pasolini's "Salò". Schlingensief approaches Fassbinder with endless references both open and obscure, taking the process of de- and reconstruction just far enough to completely demystify as well as pay tribute to an era and its heritage.

May 15, 6:30pm: FOREIGNERS OUT! SCHLINGENSIEFS CONTAINER (Austria 2002, 90 min) by Paul Poet
with Christoph Schlingensief, Luc Bondy, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Einstürzende Neubauten, Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Sellars, Peter Sloterdijk

Co-presented by the Images Festival

When in 2000 the “Austrian Freedom Party” was the first extreme right-wing party since WWII to become part of the government, Christoph Schlingensief decided to express his protest in the touristy heart of Vienna. Outside the opera house, he installed a public concentration camp that cynically reflected media culture: a “Big Brother” container with a dozen asylum seekers in it, surveilled by cameras, giving passers-by the opportunity to watch and to feed them. Via online voting the public could chose two asylum seekers a day to be kicked out of the country.

Images Award at Images Festival Toronto 2004
Rotterdam International Film festival 2003
Ars Electronica Linz 2002

“A film paced like the lighting speed at which agent provocateur Schlingensief talks the talk, breaking down the barriers between stage and reality.” – taz

May 17, 6:30pm: GERMAN CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE FIRST HOUR OF REUNIFICATION (Germany 1990, 63 min) by Christoph Schlingensief
starring Irm Hermann, Udo Kier (assistant director), production design by Uli Hanisch (The International, Perfume)
THE HOLDING OF SKULLS IS NOT MY THING! (Germany 2001, 45 min) by Alexander Kluge

October 3rd, 1990: the official celebration of German reunification: fireworks light the sky, the masses sing the national anthem. Schlingensief focusses the camera away from the festivities to “Ossi” woman Clara, who flees to the promising West in her Trabant car, leaving her husband behind with his throat cut. Arriving in the West, she becomes the target of a butcher’s clan hunting for fresh meat from the East. “German Chainsaw Massacre” is a radical comment on German reunification, comparing the capitalist market to a meat market and an homage to trash movies like Hooper’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, or Hitchcock’s “Psycho”.

“The Holding of Skulls is not my Thing!” documents a phone conversation between philosopher-author Kluge and Schlingensief, talking about the latter’s controversial 2001 Hamlet production in Zurich for which he staged a classical Shakespeare – but then made a radical cut to the present: into the setting of robes, crowns and daggers, he throws a group of six former extremists, who interrupt the play and announce to the audience why they broke with their neo-Nazi past.

Christoph Schlingensief worked feverishly across opera, installation, theatre, film, political activism, radio play, TV, and writing. Immersing himself and his open-mouthed audiences in horror, trash, satire, and the experimental, being honoured for it at ICA London, the Venice Biennial (winning the Golden Lion posthumously), MoMA PS1, Centre Pompidou and other prestigious institutions, Christoph Schlingensief was an ogre as well as an oracle of things to come, from new media movements to right-wing resurgence.

Born in 1960 in West Germany, Schlingensief made his first 8mm film at the age of eight. Since then he created more than 20 films, several with the support of the Goethe-Institut. After learning he had lung cancer in 2008, Schlingensief wrote about his illness and published his diary. He died in 2010. His legacy is the Opera Village Africa, an international art and educational project in Burkina Faso, which he realized together with award-winning Berlin architect Francis Kéré.

GOETHE FILMS screen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 4, 350 King St W, Toronto.
With English subtitles. Open to audiences 18+. Viewer discretion advised.
Tickets $10 at TIFF Bell Lightbox in person or by phone 1-888-599-8433 or online (as of 10 days prior to each screening)

Ticket raffles, updates & background on our blog "German Film @ Canada"


Program & Media Contact:
Jutta Brendemühl
Program Curator
Goethe-Institut Toronto






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