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Directors in Focus
Hartmut Bitomsky x 2

German nonfiction filmmaker Hartmut Bitomsky has worked as a writer, director, producer, and teacher since the mid-1960s. Former copublisher and editior of the influential German film journal Filmkritik and Dean of the School of Film/Video at the California Institute of the Arts, Bitomsky is best known for his incisive documentaries that probe aspects of German history and media culture. This program is copresented with Goethe Institut Boston in conjunction with the international conference “Television History,” hosted by WGBH, Boston.

Director Hartmut Bitomsky in Person
October 20 (Saturday) 7 pm

Pictures of Germany

Directed by Hartmut Bitomsky and Heiner Mühlenbrock
West Germany 1983-84, 35mm, b/w, 60 min.
German with English subtitles

In this insightful work, Bitomsky and Mühlenbrock examine more than thirty "Kulturfilme": Nazi documentary shorts made between 1933 and 1945 that were regularly shown in commercial movie theaters before the feature films.  With titles like "We Have No Problems" and "Holiday Fun," these portraits of leisure-time activities and work portray a self-confident Germany populated by nature lovers, craftsmen, and people devoted to both progress and tradition. Pictures of Germany shows how these skillful films created a reverse plebiscite-suggesting the regime's support through the depiction of a population of devoted participants.

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Directed by Hartmut Bitomsky
German/USA/Switzerland 2001, 35mm, color, 122 min.
English and German with English subtitle

For his most recent experimental documentary, Bitomsky explores one of the most vaunted weapons in American military history--the B-52 bomber--as an instrument of strategic and tactical warfare and a parable for American contemporary culture. He chronicles the aircraft from its design and construction in 1947 as the "Stratofortress" through the heyday of its tenure as the Cold War purveyor of nuclear weapons and its present day deconstruction on an airbase in the Arizona desert. Out of this story comes a critical portrait of a culture of immense power and wealth, technological sophistication, and intelligence that invests all of its economic surplus into military machinery of dubious legitimacy.

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