Videonale.scope #2 (2014)

19.-23. November 2014

Cinematic art as the observation of time: VIDEONALE.scope-Exhibition-of-Works by Chantal Akerman and Rainer Komers


Curated by Daniel Kothenschulte

VIDEONALE.scope is part of CineCologne


Opening Cine Cologne: Wednesday, 19th November 2014, 7pm at Filmforum NRW, Cologne

Further information:


-- for VIDEONALE.scope programme please scroll down --


For the second time Videonale Bonn is organising the film series event VIDEONALE.scope which will present two pathbreaking film makers in the context of CineCologne. After inviting Birgit Hein and James Benning to Cologne and Bonn in 2013, in 2014 the focus will be on Rainer Komers and Chantal Akerman.


If it is true that all the great film makers have reinvented the cinema for themselves then Chantal Akerman is the best example. As a teenager she saw two films which changed her life: Jean-Luc-Godard’s “Pierrot le Fou” was an awakening for her. And after she had seen Michael Snow’s avant-garde film “Wavelength” in 1967, she knew she just had to become a director. She soon broke off her film studies: There they taught the very academicism which the flourishing avant-garde had left behind long ago. At the age of 18 she took charge of her career, earned her own money and used it to produce her first short film “Saute Ma Vie” which was premiered at Oberhausen. Since then, the Belgian’s work can be seen as a continuous explosion: Inspired in the early 70s by a stay in New York, where she came into contact with the flourishing structural cinema and the way in which Jonas Mekas and Andy Warhol captured time in their films, she gradually mastered all varieties of film: Avant-garde, documentaries, auteur film, melodrama, filmed literature and even the musical. She won international acclaim in 1975 with the epic-experimental drama “Jeanne Dielman – 32 Quai de Commerce” and is nowadays counted as one of the most influential directors of the last forty years.


As daughter of an Auschwitz survivor she regarded Trauma as an important theme. She rejected simple categorisation, just as she refused to be appropriated by feminism. It is not possible to experience her enormous body of work, whose scope she has widened in recent years with video installations in major art exhibitions such as Documenta and the Venice Biennale, in a mere five days. VIDEONALE.scope nevertheless dares to present an overview, beginning – using original copies of the films – with her early avant-garde film “Jeanne Dielmann”. For the first time her imposing filming of Joseph Conrad’s “La Folie Almayer” (Almayer’s Folly), which never reached Germany, can be seen. A special highlight is “One Day Pina Asked”, her portrait of Pina Bausch, which was recently revived in the USA with great success. And the moving journey through Eastern Europe, her film “De L’est” from 1993, demonstrates once again how the legacy of structural films, their silent, observant pictorial language, fertilised documentary film – qualities which also distinguish the work of her contemporary, Rainer Komers, who is the subject of the second exhibition of works.


With Rainer Komers one of the prophets of modern cinema is living in our land, in Mülheim an der Ruhr to be exact. Is it surprising that his films are better known all over the world than they are here? Like the works of James Benning, our guest at last year’s VIDEONALE.scope, they flourish on the boundary between documentary observation and the gentle artistic transformation which results from the deliberate way he handles the flow of time in his films: A result of the composition of the images and their editing. Komers himself is responsible for the camera.


Born in 1944, Komers first studied film at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorfer (Dusseldorf Art Academy) and later photography at the Folkwangschule in Essen. His artistic insight and a preference for an austere aesthetic, which manifests itself in his avoiding a wealth of detail, made him one of the most individual voices of the artistic documentary. His dialogue-free masterworks such as “Kobe” (2006), the portrait of a Japanese city, and its American counterpart “Milltown, Montana” (2009) are among the most sensitive works of this form and won awards all round the world. Equally the subject of attention was his trilogy “Erdbewegung” (Earth Movement), which, without any commentary, shows the life in landscapes intersected by major roads: the “B244” in the Ruhr industrial area, the highly branched “Nome Road System” of Alaska and the Indian highway “NH2”. His feature-length documentaries “Erinnerung an Rheinhausen” (Memories of Rheinhausen) and “Ofen aus” (Cold Furnace) became aesthetic documents of a structural change which transformed the life and landscape of North Rhine-Westphalia forever.


For his lyrical documentary „Lettischer Sommer“ (Latvian Summer) in 1993, he was drawn to Eastern Europe at the same time as Chantal Akerman was there making her film “De L’est” (From the East), which we will be showing on the same evening. In them, both filmmakers approach regions going through a radical political transformation with a cinematic torpor more appropriate to the dimensions of time than any news programme. For the first time, almost the entire work of Rainer Komers can be seen at one place.


All round the world, in Alaska, Montana, Ecuador, India, Japan and in Yemen, Komers finds places whose face is being altered by structural change and, even during their decay, finds an unshaped beauty.


It is Komers’ early political documentaries which are the special discovery of this exhibition of works, films such as “Wozu braucht man eine DKP-Fraktion im Rathaus“ (1975) (Who Needs a DKP Group in the Local Council), or “Zigeuner in Duisburg“ (Gipsies in Duisburg). Screened using original film copies, these unvarnished pictures of life provide a plenitude of photographic information which continues to nourish Rainer Komers’ documentary film art even today. Rainer Komers will be present at the screening of his films and will be available for discussion.


VIDEONALE.scope is supported by: 




CineCologne is supported by:




In cooperation with: 







Rainer Komers:
2211 Büttel, 1975, 16mm, Farbe, 45 Min.
25572 Büttel, 2012, HD, 5 Min.
Kobe, 2006, Super 16mm, Farbe, 45 Min.


Thu 20.11., 6.30-8.15pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne


Videostill: Kobe @ Rainer Komers


Büttel, a village in Schleswig-Holstein, stands at the very beginning of Komers’ opus, and in this initial work his interest in the beauty of obscurity is already evident. In 2013 he returned to the scene of his first work and discovered a strange, broken idyll flanked by a nuclear power station. In addition “Kobe”, one of Komers’ masterpieces, a dialogue-free visual poem about the Japanese city “Kobe”.


Rainer Komers will be present for the talk.


Rainer Komers:
Milltown Montana, 2009, Super 16mm, 34 Min.
Werkstattgespräch (workshop discussion), Work in Progress, HD, 45 Min.


Thu 20.11., 8.30-10.10pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne


Empty mineworks filled with green water are all that remain of the flourishing mining area Milltown. In calm, observant images Komers leads the viewer through a post-civilisation desert, where the miners have nothing to do other than play billiards. Following this, it’s not very far from there to his latest confrontation with the Ruhr industrial area which he – before the world premiere – presents exclusively as a Work in Progress.


Rainer Komers will be present for the talk.



Rainer Komers:
Zigeuner in Duisburg, 1980, 16mm, s/w, 37 Min.
480 Tonnen bis Viertel vor Zehn, 1981, 16mm, s/w, 45 Min.
Die Sterne der Heimat, 1983, 16mm, 12 Min. 


Thu 20.11., 10.30pm-12.15am
Filmclub 813, Cologne

Videostill: Zigeuner in Duisburg @ Rainer Komers


Rainer Komers’ early films capture the everyday life of their time in the awareness that this will not remain unchanged. For the protagonists of “Zigeuner in Duisburg“ the inhospitable environment of the outskirts, which Kromers captures in austere landscapes, has already been lost. The working-class culture of Duisburg-Hochfeld must in the meantime make way for soulless redevelopment schemes. “Die Sterne der Heimat“, inspired by Ronald Reagan’s fatal visit to the military cemetery in Bitburg, won an award at the Krakau Film Festival.


Rainer Komers:
Trilogie Erdbewegung:
B 224, 1999, 35mm, 23 Min.
NH2, 2004, DV, 52 Min.
Nome Road System, 2005, Super 16mm, 26 Min.


Fri 21.11., 6.30-8.15pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne


Videostill: Nome Road System @ Rainer Komers


The trilogy “Erdbewegung”, is a modern masterwork of the artistic documentary. Without a commentary it follows life in landscapes intersected by major roads: the “B244” in the Ruhr industrial area, the highly branched “Nome Road System” of Alaska and the Indian highway “NH2”.


Rainer Komers:
Lettischer Sommer, 1993, Hi8, 87 Min.


Fri 21.11., 8.30-10.15pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne


Videostill: Lettischer Sommer @ Rainer Komers


In Komers’ work, this full-length documentary marks the boundary between classical documentary films and “free art”. A documentary politthriller about the fate of two Latvian journalists, one of whom died during a protest in Riga, contrasts with Kromers’ lyrical registration of the Latvian landscape and its inhabitants.


Chantal Akerman:
D`Est (Aus dem Osten), 1993, 16mm, 115 Min. OF (without Dialog)


Fri 10.30pm-12.30am
Filmclub 813, Cologne


Videostill: D´Est @ Arsenal, M. Stefanowski


A journey in pictures, from eastern Germany to Moscow, from summer to winter. “Everything, what touches her” is what Chantal Akerman wanted to film, and she abstained from any commentary. Static and tracking shots alternate and define a filmic music, backed by delicate sound editing.


Rainer Komers:
Erinnerung an Rheinhausen, 1990, 16mm, Farbe, 69 Min.
Ma’ Rib, 2009, Super 16mm, 30 Min.


Sat 4.30-6.45pm
Kölnischer Kunstverein, theater space


Videostill: Ma’Rib @ Rainer Komers


Komers’ documentaries hold time still, most intensively in places where the state of things and living conditions are being changed for ever. While the campaign to save the Krupp iron works in Rheinhausen was in full swing, with its accompanying publicity, he laid the focus on the consequences – and captured a whole working-class culture as it began to vanish. In Yemenite Ma’rib too, past and future lie next to one another, when in sight of the ruined city Sabas an oasis is being excavated out of the desert.


Rainer Komers will be present for the talk.



Chantal Akerman:
Saute ma Ville, 1968, 35mm, 13 Min. OF (without Dialog)
One Day Pina Asked, 1993, DVD, 57 Min. OmeU


Sat 7.00-20.15pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne

Videostill: Saute ma ville, @ Arsenal, M. Stefanowski


Skilfully composed and with anarchistic impact, “Saute ma Ville” is one of the debuts in the history of film: The young woman, who here throws the routine of her life overboard, is a precursor of Akerman’s “Jeanne Dielman”. “One Day Pina Asked” is moving film portrait of the great dancer Pina Bausch, and is currently being celebrated in the USA as a great discovery.


Chantal Akerman:
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai de Commerce, 1975, 35mm, 202 Min. OmU


Sat 8.30pm-midnight
Filmclub 813, Cologne


Videostill aus: Jeanne Dielman @ Paradise Films


In equal parts monumental and minimalistic, this chronicle of three days in the life of a housewife and mother, who prostitutes herself daily until she gradually breaks with her everyday routine, established itself as a classic of modern cinema. Akerman transferred the stylistic means of avant-garde film to the feature film and led both types of film to new heights.


Chantal Akerman:
La Chambre I, 1972, 11 Min. OF (without Dialog)
Hotel Monterey, 1972, 65 Min. OF (without Dialog)


Sun 4.30-6.00pm
Filmforum Museum Ludwig, Cologne


Videostill: La Chambre @ Chantal Akerman


Clearly under the impression of the American avant-garde film makers Andy Warhol and Michael Snow, Chantal Akerman’s early work stands out with its impressive feeling for the filmic relationship between space and time: Even more austere and consequent than Warhol’s “Chelsea Hotel”, “Hotel Monterey” is a fascinating portrait of a refuge for outsiders and lost souls.


In cooperation with Short Film Festival Cologne – Unlimited, Filmforum NRW

In cooperation with CINEMATEK - Koninklijk Filmarchief, Brussels


Chantal Akerman: La folie Almayer (Drama), 127 Min. OmeU


Sun 7.00-9.15pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne


Videostill: La folie Almayer @ Shellac


Chantal Akerman’s latest film, which never reached Germany, is an artistic invention. Based on Joseph Conrad’s first novel “Almayer’s Folly”, the director leads us, in a semi-documentary fashion, into the Malaysian jungle and transposes the tale of a Dutch businessman and his unhappy marriage into the late colonial era of the 50s. She named Murnau’s silent film “Tabu” (Taboo) as her model.




Rainer Komers:
Seseke Classic, 2010, HD, 5 Min.
Bottrop: Nützt dem Bürger eine DKP-Fraktion im Rathaus?, 1975, 16mm, s/w, 35 Min.
Ofen aus, 1995, 16mm, Farbe, 75 Min.


Sun 9.30-11.30pm
Filmclub 813, Cologne


Videostill: Ofen aus @ Rainer Komers


“We are now living in an era in which we must think affectionately about our refuse in order to save ourselves from destruction by abstraction”. This is written in the closing credits of “Seseke Classic”, a study of the construction of a canal as an artificial piece of nature. The communist party in the city council also looks – in Komer’s rare early work – like a foreign object. Or is democracy itself a foreign word? Finally: The farewell from the steel works in Rheinhausen.