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April 21-23, 2006

The Films of Jan Schütte

Jan Schütte is a visiting faculty member in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. His most recent film SuperTex premiered at the San Sebastian and Toronto film festivals in 2003 to critical acclaim and won several awards. Schütte studied German literature, philosophy and history of art in Tübingen and Zürich, and received his MA in Hamburg. After a short time as a reporter for television he debuted his first feature film Dragon Chow in 1987. The black-and-white tragic comedy opened at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Premio Cinecritica. The film was invited to more than fifty festivals and won numerous international awards including the Prix François Truffaut, Prix Unesco, and the German Film Prize. He continued directing feature films including Winckelmann’s Travels (1990), Bye Bye America (1994), Fat World (1998), The Farewell (2000), Old Love (2001) and SuperTex (2003), as well as highly praised documentaries and filmic essays such as Lost in America (1988), To Patagonia (1991), and A Voyage into the Innermost of Vienna (1995). Schütte has taught as a professor at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg since 1994. In collaboration with his fellow director Peter Sehr he developed and currently runs the Masterclass of the Academie du Film Franco-Allemand in Ludwigsburg and Paris. He is a member of the Academie for Arts in Berlin and the European Film Academy. In 2002, Schütte was member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, along with Martin Scorsese, Abbas Kiarostami, and Tilda Swinton.

 

This program is co-presented with the Goethe Institut Boston.


Director Jan Schütte In Person
April 21 (Friday) 7 pm

Bye Bye America (Auf Wiedersehen Amerika)

Directed by Jan Schütte
Germany/ Poland 1993, color, 86 min.
With Otto Tausig, Jakov Bodo, Aleksander Bardini, Christa Berndl
German with English subtitles

Bye Bye America is the story of an unusual journey, generated from discussions Schütte had with émigrés he met while walking along the boardwalk in Brighton Beach. The film depicts characters whose fate is to search for a homeland, with no great fuss about it but with laconic humour and an often fairy-tale ambience.  Isaak, his friend Moshe, and Moshe's wife, Genovefa, leave New York and set off for Poland. The three of them are all in the same boat, get stranded in Germany, celebrate Christmas in Berlin, and finally end up in Poland. But everything's different there. Isaak finds a wife and Genovefa gets her own flat. At the end, everybody's happy for a moment: some in Gdansk, some in Brighton Beach.

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Director Jan Schütte In Person
April 21 (Friday) 9 pm

Old Love


Directed by Jan Schütte
Germany 2001, color, 25 min
With Otto Tausig, Tovah Feldshuh

This beautiful film tells the quiet and unsentimental story of loneliness and emptiness in old age, and of a tender - though tragic - love.  It is based on a short story by the American author and Nobel prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer, whose stories often take place in the Jewish world of New York or Florida, and tell of love, adventure and catastrophes. Singer writes, "the love of old or mid-aged people, is a topic which takes more and more space in my work. In literature old people and their feelings have been neglected. The novel writers have never told us, that in love, as well in other areas, the young ones are only beginners and that the art of loving matures with age and experience."

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Dragon Chow

NostalghiaDirected by Jan Schütte
West Germany 1987, b/w, 79 min.
With Bhasker, Frank Oladeinde, Youngme Song
German with English subtitles

A young Pakistani man seeking to gain residence in Hamburg takes an illegal job in a Chinese restaurant. He befriends a young waiter who decides to join him in pursuing their dream of opening a restaurant of their own. Director Schütte provides a humanist perspective on cultural displacement in modern Germany and the struggles of the new immigrant class.

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Director Jan Schütte In Person
April 22 (Saturday) 6:30 pm

Farewell (Abschied)

Directed by Jan Schütte
Germany 2000, color, 91 min.
With Josef Bierbichler, Monika Bleibtreu, Jeannette Hain
German with English subtitles

It is one of the last days of an exceptionally hot summer in 1956. Bertolt Brecht (Bierbichler) is about to leave his lakeside house among the tall birches in Brandenburg to return to Berlin for the upcoming theater season. Most of the women in his life are there: his wife, Helene Weigel (Bleibtreu); his daughter, Barbara; his old lover Ruth Berlau; his latest flame, the actress Käthe Reichel; and sensuous Isot Kilian, whose affections and body he shares with the rebel political activist Wolfgang Harich. The friends and lovers swim, write, eat, drink, and philosophize about art, politics, and life as the Stasi lurks all the while on the sidelines, waiting. The serenity of the country on this summer day stands in marked contrast to the storm of jealousy and egomania, betrayal and dashed hopes at whose center Brecht is trapped, struggling to make plans for a future that fate will end only days later. A brilliant ensemble cast and music by John Cale complement this fascinating portrait of one of Germany’s leading modern artists.

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April 22 (Saturday) 9 pm

Supertex

Directed by Jan Schütte
Germany/ Netherlands 2003, color, 95 min.
With Stephen Mangan, Jan Decleir, Maureen Lipman
French, English, German and Yiddish with English subtitles

Life is treating self-confident and open-minded Max (Mangan) very well. As the first born of a wealthy Jewish family, he doesn’t need to worry about money. He loves his girlfriend and can imagine sharing his life with her. Everything could easily just continue the way it is, if it weren’t for his sudden doubts, diffused emotions of inner emptiness, and the urge for change.  His father owns Supertex, a discount textile company. When a dramatic accident befalls the family, Max and his two brothers must change their plans for the future.

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April 23 (Sunday) 7 pm

Actually I Wanted to Go To America

Directed by Jan Schütte
West Germany 1984, color, 15 min
German with English subtitles

A moving portrait of an elderly woman living in Germany. This compelling character reflects on her life and her relationship with her best friend in this beautifully photographed work.

A Voyage into the Innermost of Vienna (Eine Reise In Das Innere Von Wien)

Directed by Jan Schütte
Austria 1995, color, 89 min.

Like Gerhard Roth's book with the same title, A Voyage into the Innermost of Vienna is a collection of seven places and seven destinies.  The film encounters various people and random fates, exploring locations as it descends into the depths of the city with a team of sewage workers and then ascends to the tip of a cathedral tower with the head of the cathedral's building works department.  Produced to mark the millennium, A Voyage into the Innermost of Vienna is an essayistic, associative journey that seeks to discover just how the city thinks, dreams, digests.

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April 23 (Sunday) 9 pm

Fat World (Fette Welt)

iDirected by Ousmane Sembene
Senegal/ France/ Burkina Faso/ Cameroon/ Morocco/ Tunisia 2004, color, 120 min.
With Fatoumata Coulibaly, Maimouna Héléne Diarra, Salimata Traoré
Bambara and French with English subtitles

Directed by Jan Schütte
Germany 1998, color, 89 min.
With Jürgen Vogel, Julia Filimonow, Sibylle Canonica
German with English subtitles

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May 10 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Supertex

Directed by Jan Schütte
Germany/ Netherlands 2003, color, 95 min.
With Stephen Mangan, Jan Decleir, Maureen Lipman
French, English, German and Yiddish with English subtitles

Life is treating self-confident and open-minded Max (Mangan) very well. As the first born of a wealthy Jewish family, he doesn’t need to worry about money. He loves his girlfriend and can imagine sharing his life with her. Everything could easily just continue the way it is, if it weren’t for his sudden doubts, diffused emotions of inner emptiness, and the urge for change.  His father owns Supertex, a discount textile company. When a dramatic accident befalls the family, Max and his two brothers must change their plans for the future.

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April 24 (Monday) 7 pm

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Directed by Chantal Akerman
France/Belgium 1975, color, 200 min
French with English subtitles

As exhilarating as it is claustrophobic, Chantal Akerman’s three days in the life of a Brussels housewife and widow (the astonishing Delphine Seyrig), who is also a prostitute, is probably the most widely heralded “women’s film” ever made. B. Ruby Rich: “More than three hours long and nearly devoid of dialogue, the film charts Dielman’s breakdown via minute observation of her performance of household routines, at first methodical and unvarying, later increasingly deranged…”

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Screening on May 1 (Monday) 7 pm

The Eighties (Les Années 80)

Directed by Chantal Akerman
France/Belgium 1983, color, 85 min
With Amid Chakir, Aurore Clément, Magali Noel
French with English subtitles

An experimental film examining the process of creating art, The Eighties is series of interconnected episodes about the making of Chantal Akerman’s musical Window Shopping.  The progression of the film’s creation is revealed through clips of script read-throughs, casting, dress rehearsals, costume fittings, and screen tests.  Akerman herself is a constant presence throughout The Eighties, and though she only steps in front of the camera occasionally, her off-screen voice directs the action.  The film concludes with a twenty minute Busby Berkeley finale filmed in 35mm on location at the Toison D’Or (Golden Fleece) shopping mall in Brussels, demonstrating how the challenges of filmmaking can often be forgotten in the exhilaration of viewing the final product.

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May 1 (Monday) 9 pm

Window Shopping (aka Golden Eighties)

Directed by Chantal Akerman
France Belgium 1985, color, 96 min
With Myriam Boyer, John Berry, Delphine Seyrig
French with English subtitles

A departure from Akerman’s more serious explorations of women’s lives, Window Shopping is a lively musical in the style of Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, set in a Parisian shopping mall.  The young women who work at Lili’s beauty parlor have romantic feelings for Robert, the son of the owners of a nearby clothing store, but Robert is smitten with Lili herself.  Meanwhile, an American veteran of World War II tries to rekindle a relationship with Robert’s mother, his wartime lover. These complicated romantic encounters are commented upon in song, Greek chorus style, by the juice bar owner and a group of four boys who hang around together at the mall.

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May 8 (Monday) 7 pm

And Life Goes On (aka Life and Nothing More)

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Iran 1991, color, 95 min.
With Farhad Kheradmand, Buba Bayour, Hocine Rifahi
Farsi with English subtitles

In the aftermath of the earthquake in northern Iran which killed some 50,000 people, director Abbas Kiarostami returned to the setting of his Where is the Friend's Home? to learn the fate of the two young actors who had played in the film. His search became the dramatic source for And Life Goes On, an Iranian road movie traveled by the director and his young son, who along the way meet earthquake survivors valiantly working to reconstruct their lives. By pushing the limits of fiction and documentary, Kiarostami gently engages the viewer in cinema's process of transforming reality.

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