All of Renate Sami’s films—short and long—avoid being labeled by genre. Renate trusts her strong inner voice to find each film's own form. If I want to decribe her films, I need all the words at once: essay, poetry, documentary, diary, music, silence, language. The three films shown in the second program give an idea of her wide range: We All Die..., When You See a Rose and The Protection Foil are all quite different from one another. We All Die... was the first film I saw by Renate in 1990 when Maria Lang and I organized a filmseries based on our question: “Who were the first women filmmakers in the ‘New German Film‘?“ and invited Renate with this work.Out of this developed our long filmmaker friendship. In 1994 I asked ten friends—filmmakers and non-filmmakers—to make a film about a season, and Renate surprised me with her beautiful, lyrical flower-film When You See a Rose. Earlier, in 1982, Renate had made The Protection Foil, a performance-film in one take, with visible film music and an anarchistic attitude where form and content create something new.
In 1997 Renate and I started our monthly film series Filmsamstag (Film Saturday) together with the filmmaker Theo Thiesmeier. We showed films that were important to us. Our discussions were passionate and led us to unusual programing, ignoring genres—much like Renate’s own filmmaking and independent thinking. – Ute Aurand
Special thanks: Ute Aurand; Robert Beavers; Martin Scheuring—German Films; Martin Koerber and Diana Kluge—Deutsche Kinemathek.
Film descriptions by Renate Sami, unless otherwise noted.
Directed by Renate Sami and Petra Seeger
Germany 1985, 16mm, color, 60 min. German and Italian with English subtitles
“I arrived in Turin with the last January snow, just like a juggler or a nougat peddler. I remembered it was carnival time only when I saw the stands and the bright points of the carbide lamps under the porticos, but as it was not yet dark I walked from the station to the hotel, squinting out from under the arches and over the heads of the people.” This is how Cesare Pavese began his last novel, and this is how the film begins.
Cesare Pavese was born in 1908 in Santo Stefano Belbo, a small town in the mountains between Turin and Genua. He lived and worked in Turin, where he committed suicide in 1950. He was forty-two.
These two places also play a part in his last two novels—Turin in Tra donne sole and Santo Stefano Belbo in La luna e i falo—and so we will walk through these two places, arriving at the station just like the main characters in both novels. There are two interviews—one with Massimo Mila, a writer and Pavese’s friend in Turin, the other with Pinolo Scaglione, a carpenter and cooper and his friend from childhood in Santo Stefano Belbo.
Directed by Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub. With Olimpia Carlisi, Guido Lombardi, Gino Felici
Italy/West Germany 1979, DCP, color, 105 min. Italian, Dutch, French & German with English subtitles
Straub-Huillet’s From the Cloud… bridges history and myth, modernity and antiquity. Based on six mythological encounters in Cesare Pavese’s Dialogues with Leucò, and on Pavese’s last novel, The Moon and the Bonfires, about the savage murders of Italian anti-Fascist resistance fighters during World War II, the film has affinities with History Lessons, Too Early/Too Late, and a series of films of the 2000s in which they returned to Pavese’s Dialogues. – Joshua Siegel
DCP courtesy the Miguel Abreu Gallery.
Renate Sami in Conversation with Ute Aurand and Robert Beavers
Friday September 14 at 7pm
Directed by Renate Sami
Germany 1975, 16mm, color & b/w, 60 min. German with English subtitles
Holger Meins started studying film in 1964. When he was arrested in 1970 he was working as a cameraman on diverse projects and had made a twenty-minute film on a homeless man that was highly esteemed by his fellow students. After leaving jail he became seriously engaged in the protest movement against the war in Vietnam and was again arrested in 1972. He was accused of being a terrorist and died in prison while on a hunger strike in 1974. He was thirty-three.
In my film, I interviewed five fellow students, a friend who lived with him for a while and a young woman who was one of the teenagers with whom Holger Meins was working on a film project aimed at helping the young ones articulate their problems and translate them into film. - Renate Sami
With Hartmut Bitomsky, Gerd Conradt, Ulrike Edschmid, Harun Farocki, Helke Sander, Clara Schmidt and Günter Peter Straschek.
Directed by Renate Sami
West Germany 1983, 16mm, b/w, 8 min
This film was produced to be included in a compilation of films against the construction of atomic bombs and nuclear powerplants. Some trees and bushes, a clearing. A young man tries to wrap himself in a foil, and a girl who sings about love accompanies herself on a children’s bandoneon. - RS
Directed by Renate Sami
Germany 1995, 16mm, color &, 5 min
Under the spell of Cathy Berberian’s voice,
scraps of melodies and poems in my head
in love with spring and summer’s flowers
I walked through streets and gardens, pastures, fields and forests
and by the end of that summer 1995 I had a little film
which ends somewhat melancholically
with some chords of Gustav Mahler's “Traveling Journeyman`s Songs" - RS
Also screening as part of the Cinema of Resistance series.