Program Claus Löser

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Claus Löser is born 1962 in Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz). Since 1980 work on lyrics, music and films. 1990 – 1995 film studies in Potsdam-Babelsberg (Diploma). Since 1990 program director of the cinema Brotfabrik in Berlin. Since 1992 film critc (taz, Berliner Zeitung, film-dienst) and writer. 1996 foundation of the collection ex.oriente.lux – experimental archive East 1976 – 1989 and publication of the book Gegenbilder – Filmischer Subversion in der DDR (« Counter Images »).
Works as a film maker, critic, curator und lecturer in Berlin specialized on experimental / underground cinema and on film culture under circumstances of totalitarism. In 2011 he finished a dissertation about East German underground films, published also as book Strategien der Verweigerung (Strategies of Refusal).

Carte Blanche Claus Löser, specialist of underground and experimental cinema of the former Eastern bloc. He presents here a cinematic panorama of expression of filmmakers living or having lived the constraint of a totalitarian regime.

The program of short films “Under the ice” undertakes a temporal and geographical journey across socialism “as it really existed” in Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1989.
Examples of extraordinary films from Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the GDR and the Soviet Union show that under the apparently ever so thick ice of the cold war, there was strong unrest…
The situation was very different for different countries, in some cases being more tolerant (Hungary) and in other cases more restrictive (USSR). And Yugoslavia, as a “non-aligned” country, represented unquestionably a particular case. However, the experiences are linked by an omnipresence of double moral standards and a gap between the official representation of oneself and ones personal life, which have led to the employment of similar strategies of artistic practice.
All selected films reflect on the militarisation of everyday life, political arbitrariness and the daily disempowerment which results from it.
This range of unusual films demonstrates courageous artistic expressions, which have been created behind the back of the powerful or in the dead angle of censorship.
Whether this is achieved through radical formalism, as in Evgeni Youfit’s “Lesorub” (USSR, 1985), or through encoded content, as in “Büntetöexpedicie” by Deszö Magyar (Hungary, 1970), by exploiting the means of animation (Einmart) or the means of the video clip (Moskwa), all the works have a common feature, which is the relationship between civil courage and a desire for formal renewal. They give evidence of an immediate “aesthetics of resistance” (Peter Weiss)
Dr. Claus Löser


General i resni človec – The General and the serious Man – Der General und der ernste Mensch – Le général et l’homme sérieux
Yugoslavia 1962 – 10 minutes – short fiction film – director/scenario: Vlado Kristl – camera: France Cerar – production: Viba-Film Ljubljana
In his first short fiction film, Kristl probes the elasticity of tolerance of cultural politics in socialist Yugoslavia. In less than ten minutes, he turns the traditional victim-persecutor constellation upside down. He sketches modern society as a prison in which inmates and guardians change their roles in a humdrum game.

Büntetöexpedicio – Punitive Expedition – Strafexpedition – Expédition punitive
Hungary 1970 – 32 minutes – short fiction film – director: Deszö Magyar – scenario : Péter Dobai – camera: Elemér Ragályi – music: Tihamer Vujicsics – production: Béla Balázs Studio Budapest
In the middle of the 19th century, more and more people opposed the domination of the Habsburg monarchy in Hungary. A rebellion was put down with great bloodshed. In an excessive style, Magyar’s film talks about the eternal combat between the weak and the powerful, about submission and despotism. In this way, it also makes reference to the failed revolution of 1956.

GDR 1981 – 15 minutes – animation film – director/scenario: Lutz Dammbeck – camera: Hans Schöne – music: Thomas Hertel – production DEFA-Studio für Trickfilme Dresden
For the “hero” of this unusual film from East Germany, the dream of flying becomes reality. Nevertheless, he has to realise that, despite his ability, the borders are not removed. Wearily, he follows his destiny. For all the citizens of the GDR, the surreal allusion was easy to decode. The film has served as a mouthpiece and the officials of culture have denounced it as “counter-revolutionary”.

Лесоруб – Lesorub – Woodcutter – Holzfäller – Bûcheron
USSR 1985 – 12 minutes – short fiction film – director/scenario/camera/music: Evgeni Ioufit – production: Mcha-lala Film Leningrad
A key work of “necrorealism”, cofounded by Ioufit: excesses of violence in the snow and in the ruins, with incessant inversions of dominator-dominated relationships, serve as a stand-in for the latent presence of arbitrariness and death in Russian society. Scenes of absurdity employ slapstick humour and are soaked with surrealism.

Moskwa – Moscow – Moskau – Moscou
Poland 1986 – 16 minutes – experimental film – director/scenario/camera/production: Józef Robakowski – music: Moskwa
“Moskwa” was a famous Polish punk band. In this video clip for his musician friends, the pioneer of video art Robakowski unwinds, in acceleration, the history of the Soviet Union from the October revolution until the death of Leonid Brezhnev. During the state of siege, declared in 1981, this was a courageous provocation.

Konec stalinismu v Čechách – The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia – Das Ende des Stalinismus in Böhmen
Czechoslovakia/Great Britain – 10 minutes – animation film – director/scenario: Jan Švankmajer – camera: Svatopluk Malý – animation: Bedřich Glaser – production: BBC/Nomad Films London
Just after the “Velvet Revolution”, Švankmajer – who was still surrounded by censorship and restrictions – lashes out at the young history of his party. In an ironic way, he draws his animation film in the style of “agitprop” and, in this way, settles his accounts with the stupidity of power and opportunism of the people. And he even ends up finding an amazing reuse of Stalin

Venue : Cinéma de la Maison de la Culture Thursday 13 at 21h