Videonale.scope #4 (2016)

24th-26th November 2016

A film series hosted by the Videonale Bonn


Curated by Daniel Kothenschulte


50 Years of Underground Film on the Rhine: VIDEONALE.scope presents a selection of classic and new works by the film makers Wilhelm Hein and Lutz Mommartz 


1967 was a year of utopian impulses. In Düsseldorf, a senior inspector at the state building authority decided he wanted to become an experimental film maker. He got hold of a 16mm camera, and by the time the deadline came around for the important avant-garde film festival in the Belgian town of Knokke, he had four short films ready to submit. Three of his films were accepted, two of which played in competition. His film “Self Shots” [“Selbstschüsse”] won second prize, beaten only by Michael Snow’s classic “Wavelength”. Practically overnight, the 33-year-old Lutz Mommartz had made a name for himself in the small but cosmopolitan world of experimental film. Mommartz (born 1934) continued working as a senior building inspector for seven years, after which he dedicated himself entirely to film. From 1978 until 1999, he was Professor of Film at the Academy of Art in Munster. 


Also in competition at Knokke were husband and wife filmmakers Birgit and Wilhelm Hein from Cologne. “Knokke played a big role in the grounding of XSCREEN”, Birgit later recalled. “It was there that we started inviting international filmmakers to come to Cologne”. 


In 2013, VIDEONALE.scope devoted a comprehensive film series to Birgit Hein. This year, Videonale Bonn is pleased to welcome Wilhelm Hein and Lutz Mommartz to Cologne. Almost five decades after the explosion of moving image art which shook the world in 1967, we offer you the opportunity for an encounter with two avant-garde filmmakers from the Rhineland who have continued working in the medium until the present day. 


In 2013, Wilhelm Hein (born 1940), whose work together with Birgit Hein has twice been exhibited at Documenta (1972 and 1977), completed his epic 16mm experimental film “You Killed the Undergroundfilm or The Real Meaning of Kunst bleibt ...bleibt...”, a film he had been working on since 2002. For the first time, two excerpts from the ca. 12-hour long film will be screened in Cologne, flanked by the world premieres of Hein’s latest video works, “Tohuwabohu Big and Small, Rolls 23 and 96” [“Das große und das kleine Tohuwabohu, Rolle 23 und 96”].  Additionally, his 16mm work “Double Projections 1-4” will be screened with live musical accompaniment. Hein’s autobiographically tinged film work brings together a vast array of avant-garde filmmaking’s expressive techniques. Found-footage, structural elements and documentary images merge to form performative montages which are constantly renewed by the accompanying sound collages. Hein, who is personally overseeing the screenings in Cologne, is one of the world’s leading exponents of film performance.


In Lutz Mommartz’s work, every single image counts, though the severity of formal perfection is tempered by his playful, neo-Dadaist approach. Each of his early films is entirely different from the last, and is based on a completely new idea. With apparent naivety, he constantly reinvents cinema. In “Self Shots” [“Selbstschüsse”] (1967), he throws his camera up in the air and catches it. As he himself put it, it was his way of “showing my animosity to the film tradition, and leaping beyond my own limits”. In “Railway” [“Eisenbahn”] (1967), an apparently endless landscape rolling past train window turns out to be an illusion produced using a skillfully mounted endless loop. Michel Gondry used the same idea in his 2007 music video “Star Guitar”. Many of Germany’s most important film critics, including Uwe Nettelbeck, Peter W. Jansen, Ulrich Gregor and Gertrud Koch, all rave about Mommartz’ work. Enno Patalas 1968 comments on “Railway” could equally be applied to many of his other films: “The virtually endless film seems at first to be a joke; but then it challenges you to look more closely, to study and scrutinize it. Finally, it takes the form of a suggestive medium which gives way to a kind of ecstasy”. 


Mommartz’s playful anarchy makes him a kind of kindred spirit of Sigmar Polke, to whom he pays tribute in his 8mm film “The Beautiful Sigmar” [“Der schöne Sigmar”] (1971). Polke also featured in one of his films which engaged the leftwing counter-culture of the era (“Solidarity of Tenents” [“Mietersolidarität”] 1970). At the end of the seventies, Mommartz began employing epic narrative forms which were as free, humorous and personal as his short films. In 1980, he made the experiment road movie “Tango through Germany” [“Tango durch Deutschland”] with American genre-star Eddie Constantine. The essay on the landscapes and inhabitants of the lower Rhine, which received a German national film prize, clocks in at 156 minutes. We are pleased to present both of these rarely screened films for audiences to discover anew. 





Thursday, November 24th


Filmclub 813

7.30 p.m. Retrospective Wilhelm Hein I


Wilhelm & Birgit Hein: Rohfilm, 1968, 16mm, 20 Min., Filmstandbild, Courtesy Wilhelm Hein

Rohfilm, 1968, 20 min.
You Killed the Underground Film or The Real Meaning of Kunst bleibt… bleibt…, 1989-2013, Reel 1, 16mm, 60 min. 


In the 1960s, Birgit and Wilhelm Hein’s “Material Films” exerted a major influence on international avant garde film. In Rohfilm [Raw Film], the pair treated exposed film as a kind of raw artistic material, making its materiality visible by physically attacking it. All the things which usually ruin our enjoyment of a film – traces of dirt, misaligned frames, visible perforations – became events in their own right. In his monumental montage film You Killed the Underground Film…, Wilhelm Hein revisits this idea, casting a reflective gaze back over a career in avant garde film spanning almost five decades. 


9 p.m. Retrospective Wilhelm Hein II


Wilhelm Hein: You Killed the Underground Film or The Real Meaning of Kunst bleibt… bleibt…, 1989-2013, 16 mm, 60 Min., Filmstandbild, Foto: Annette Frick


You Killed the Underground Film or The Real Meaning of Kunst bleibt… bleibt…, 1989-2013, 16mm, Reel 2, 60 Min


We present a further extract from Wilhelm Hein’s opus magnum, which received the German Film Critics’ Experimental Film Prize in 2005, before it was even complete. The work combines original film material, found footage, musical fragments and portraits of fellow artists with abstract elements to form a full-on orgy of film, an intoxicating panorama of personal obsession. 


Followed by a Discussion with Wilhelm Hein


10.30 p.m. Retrospektive Lutz Mommartz I: Selbstschüsse: experimental films from the 1960s


Lutz Mommartz: Selbstschüsse, 1967, 16mm,  7 Min., Filmstandbild, Courtesy Lutz Mommartz


Erste Interviews, 1963-1968, 2016, 4 Min.
Bedienungsanleitung, 1967/2016, 16 mm, 2 Min.
Eisenbahn, 1967, 16 mm, 14 Min.
Selbstschüsse, 1967, 16 mm, 7 Min.
Markeneier, 1967, 16 mm, 8 Min.
Tanzschleife, 1967, 16 mm, 3 Min.
Oben / Unten, 1967, 16 mm, 4 Min.
Der Finger, 1967, 16 mm, 3 Min.
Gegenüber ZWEILEINWANDKINO (Rekonstruktion), 1968, 16 mm, 3 Min.
Immatrikulation, 1968, 16 mm, 5 Min.
Weg zum Nachbarn, 1968, 16 mm, 11 Min.
Überfordert, 1969, 16 mm, 4 Min.

Die Treppe, 1967, 16 mm, 7 Min.


Lutz Mommartz’ short films of the 1960s bear witness to his personal reinvention of the medium. Like the first silent film pioneers, his 16mm camera embraces the visible world with open arms, pulling it apart and reassemling it, always with a keen sense of form. The subjects of his playful yet uncompromising minimalist works include footage of the instruction manual for his camera, later painted over; a train journey on an endless loop; a pack of eggs as an op art symphony; and a pillow fight with Sigmar Polke and Kiki Meyer.


Friday, November 25th


Temporary Gallery

7.30 p.m. Retrospektive Lutz Mommartz II: Art and politics


Lutz Mommartz: Soziale Plastik (mit Joseph Beuys), 1969, 16 mm, 12 Min., Filmstandbild, Courtesy Lutz Mommartz


Soziale Plastik (mit Joseph Beuys), 1969, 16 mm, 12 Min.

Wählt ADF, 1969. 4 Min.
400 m IFF, 1969, 16 mm, 21 Min.
3 Gläser, 1968, 16 mm, 4 Min.
Altersporno, 1970, 16 mm, 5 Min.

Dreharbeit, 1982, 16 mm, 11 Min.
Anziehen (1985), 2 Min.


Just as Joseph Beuys (with whom Mommartz colloborated on his film Soziale Plastik [Social Plastic]) broadened the scope of art to include efforts to bring about social change, Lutz Mommartz used his films as a way of conducting politics. Wähl ADF [Vote ADF] documents the debates of non-parliamentary opposition movements on the thorny issue of violence as a political means. For Mommartz, the very fact that a camera is running changes reality, provoking unusual behavior. His 400 m IFF captures a series of guests in his apartment on a single roll of film – including several appearances by Joseph Beuys.
Followed by a Discussion with Lutz Mommartz


Der schöne Sigmar, 1971, 16 mm, 21 Min.


9.30 p.m. Retrospektive Wilhelm Hein III

Das große und das kleine Tohuwabohu, Rollen 23 und 96 [Weltpremiere], 120 Min.


Very little is known about Wilhelm Hein’s newest film, other than that it is once more encylopedic in scope. For the first time, two parts of the film will be screened to the public.


With Wilhelm Hein in attendance


Saturday, November 26th



3 p.m. Retrospektive Lutz Mommartz III: Der Garten Eden


Lutz Mommartz: Der Garten Eden, 1977, 16 mm, 156 Min., Filmstandbild, Courtesy Lutz Mommartz

Der Garten Eden, 1977, 16 mm, 156 Min.


An epic experimental film about the landscapes and inhabitants of the Lower Rhine region of Germany. Rather than adopting a fly-on-the-wall perspective, Mommartz opts for an interventionist approach, making both himself and his camera visible throughout his investigation of the Garden of Eden. This gives rise to a new, thoroughly modern form of film essay, a kind of interactive sketch book which captures the beauty lying by the wayside of the paths we travel.


Filmclub 813

7.30 p.m. Retrospektive Lutz Mommartz IV: Als wär's von Beckett


Lutz Mommartz:  Dreharbeit, 1982, 16 mm, 11 Min., Filmstandbild, Courtesy Lutz Mommartz


Inspektion, 1971, 16 mm, 20 Min.

Die Angst am Rhein, 1974, 16 mm, 7 Min.
Als wär’s von Beckett, 1975, 16 mm, 20 Min.

Kleine Stücke, 2003, 4 Min.

Ohne Titel, 2003, 27 Min


In Inspektion, two actors discuss the inner workings of the German Communist Party while  replacing a car engine. In the process, the camera exposes far more than the inner life of a Renault 4. In Mommartz’s films, reality conceals itself behind a thin veil of absurdity. In Als wär’s von Beckett [Like Something by Beckett], the actual marital dispute of an aging couple takes on a theatrical dimension. By contrast, the massive popularity of the German Communist Party, whose followers celebrate a vast festival in Die Angst am Rhein [Fear on the Rhine], seems scarcely conceivable today. In the late documentary work Ohne Titel [Untitled], a simple view of a street seems strangely staged. 


9.30 p.m. Retrospektive Wilhelm Hein IV

Doppelprojektion I – IV, 1971-1972, with live music from Noise du Chocolat, ca 60 Min.


11 p.m. Retrospektive Lutz Mommartz V: Tango durch Deutschland


Lutz Mommartz: Tango durch Deutschland, 1980, 16mm, 90 Min., Filmstandbild, Courtesy Lutz Mommartz


Eddie und Lutz, 1980, 16 mm, 4 Min.

Tango durch Deutschland, 1980, 16mm, Mit Eddie Constantine, 90 Min.


Wilhelm Hein’s legendary film happening, in which two 16mm projectors simultaneously fill the surface of a vast Scope screen, is always staged live. The accompanying noise music soundtrack will be improvised by a band specially convened for the event. 



6 Euro / reduced 4 Euro 


Combi-Ticket (2 Scope-Programmes) = 10 Euro
Combi-Ticket (2 Scope-Programmes) reduced = 6 Euro





Filmclub 813 e.V.

Kino 813 in der BRÜCKE
Hahnenstraße 6
50667 Köln
U-Bahn 1/3/4/7/9/16/18: Neumarkt


Temporary Gallery

Zentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst e.V. / Centre for contemporary art
Mauritiuswall 35
50676 Köln
U-Bahn 1/7/12/15: Rudolfplatz


Turistarama (alte Lupe 2)

Mauritiussteinweg 102
50676 Köln
U-Bahn 1/3/4/7/9/16/18: Neumarkt
U-Bahn 9: Mauritiussteinweg


All information about Videonale.scope and other film events in Cologne can be found on the website:


VIDEONALE.scope is funded by: 




In Cooperation with: