Kino! 2011 brings us New Films from Germany at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Organized by MoMA’s Senior Curator Laurence Kardish and NY’s representative of German Films, Oliver Mahrdt, the event is now in its 32nd year.
Presenting another annual work-show of noteworthy German fiction, documentary and short films,
Kino! opened with Tom Tykwer’s award winning Berlin-based, threesome-relationship drama THREE (Drei, 2010). In addition, this year’s cream of the crop also included producer Regina Ziegler’s TV special The Weissensee Saga: A Berlin Love Story, (Weissensee, 2010) directed by Friedmann Fromm. Germany’s new and emerging talent was represented by two filmmakers: Florian Cossen presented his drama The Day I Was Not Born (Das Lied in mir, 2010), and Philip Koch arrived in New York with his disturbing debut Picco (Picco, 2010). Plus, audiences were treated to Next Generation 2010, a program of eleven shorts by students from Germany’s top film schools.
Two truly noteworthy documentaries rounded up the program. Anne Linsel and Rainer Hoffmann’s award winning and touching tribute to the late German choreographer Pina Bausch, Dancing Dreams, as well as an intriguing documentary titled How to make a Book with Steidl by Gereon Wetzel and Joerg Adolph. Both films carefully observe a process: Dancing Dreams follows the rehearsal process of young performers learning Kontakthof, a classic dance piece by Pina Bausch, whereas How to make a Book with Steidl takes the viewer into the world of publishing and follows the process of making a photo book. Both are two very different, yet equally fascinating journeys.
World renowned for his exquisite books on photography and art, German bookmaker Gerhard Steidl lives and breathes his art and craft. As we learn in the film though, he never refers to his publications as books, but instead calls them multiples: works that are developed by an artist and created by a technician—himself—and his team. After the 90 minute documentary, it becomes clear that Steidl and his team are far more than mere technicians.
Centered on the making of Joel Sternfeld’s photo book iDubai, which features Sternfeld’s photographs taken with his iPhone in Dubai, the film offers the audience an insight into the intimate relationship between an artist and his publisher. Besides spending time with Sternfeld and Steidl, the two filmmakers also follow the restless and ever resourceful publisher as he travels the world and visits with other distinguished artists like Robert Frank, Ed Ruschka, Jeff Wall, and Guenther Grass to discuss their upcoming publications—always returning to his homebase: his one-stop-shop, state-of-the-art printing plant in Goettingen, Germany.
Towards the end of the film, Steidl invites some visitors to his plant to smell his different publications and proudly points out that, contrary to today’s high turn-over printing practices, each Steidl multiple is a unique composition of smell, sound, and touch—individually designed to match the publications content. A wonderful reminder about the art of bookmaking and a unique experience in our all too digital world!
For their intimate and beautifully photographed portrait, Wetzel and Adolph deservingly received the Golden Dove for Best German Documentary at last year’s Dok Leipzig, the renowned German Documentary Film Festival and, besides screening at MOMA, will also be presented at the upcoming HOT DOCS Toronto Documentary Film Festival in Canada.