by admin on February 29, 2012
On 17 and 18 February, I took part in Susan Kemp’s marvellous Weimarvellous strand at the Glasgow Film Festival (GFF). The strand focused on the films and culture of the Weimar Republic in Germany, which ran from 1919 until 1933 when Hitler came to power. Films shown included Der Blaue Engel, starring Marlene Dietrich, and Berlin: Symphonie der Großstadt, an experimental film from 1927 directed by Walther Ruttman. The film shows a day in the life of Berlin. The Glasgow screening was accompanied by a live improvisation from Scottish jazz trio AAB.
It was amazing to see a full house at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts for these old films. And to think about what came after them when the deliciously decadent interlude that was the Weimar Republic came to an end.
This made me think about last year, when I collaborated with Susan on another German film project at GFF. The project was called The Stasi Are Among Us and featured banned films from the former German Democractic Republic. These films had be the given the go-ahead to be shot at the state film studio DEFA, but were later canned by the censor. The atmosphere and aesthetics of the East German films could not have been more different from this year’s Weimarvellous films. The latter somehow seemed much more modern.
To complete this year’s Weimarvellous event, Susan made a companion film to Berlin: Symphonie der Großstadt named Glasgow: Symphony of a Great City. The film had an experimental format. Susan shot the footage then handed it over to a group of sound designers known as Synchresis. They then created a live performance where they mixed the footage in different with different sounds, including music and ‘found’ sounds recorded on the street.
One of the sounds they used was a recording of a poem I wrote to go with the film entitled Twelve polaroids: Glasgow and environs. You can find out more about the Weimarvellous event and read my poem at the Weimarvellous event web site.