Slice of German experimentalism

Published: Sep 18, 2019, 08:04 IST | Snigdha Hasan | Mumbai

A retrospective and interaction with noted experimental filmmaker Michael Brynntrup offers a peek into his unique approach to capturing the moving image

 A still from Testamento Memori (1986)
A still from Testamento Memori (1986)

A prolific filmmaker whose body of work spanning over three decades has dealt with myriad themes ranging from the mundane to the morbid, Michael Brynntrup is often hailed as the poster child of German underground films. At a screening in Berlin, Brynntrup happened to watch two films by Mumbai-based Harkat Studios and walked up to compliment its co-founders, Michaela Talwar and Karan Talwar. “That’s when we learnt that he was planning to come to India soon and we decided to have a retrospective," informs Michaela. The curated selection of Brynntrup’s films, often shot on Super 8 and 16 or 35 mm, will be screened this Saturday in his presence. The event titled And versus Or will also delve into the question of analogue and digital — whether the two can co-exist, instead of filmmakers having to take sides — a precursor to Harkat’s 16 mm film festival, slated for later this year.

filmMichael Brynntrup

“Michael has a massive body of work. We worked with him closely to curate the screening, so it could do justice to his oeuvre. So, in a way, it is a retrospective of his works and a retrospective of underground cinema [in Germany] itself,"informs Michaela. About Brynntrup’s artistic practice, she shares, “A lot of people feel that experimentalism is not accessible. But Michael connects with his audience directly by addressing them in several of his films. The films make you think, but in a visual, non-preachy way. So, even if they hinge on the morbid, he deals with them in a fun, bizarre way.”

Deathstrip (1986) is about a “dead no-man’s land" between an overgrown West Berlin graveyard and a desolate stretch of land under communist rule, where the main character arrives one afternoon. The Hong Kong Showcase (2005), on the other hand, is a comment on living in a globalised world. 

In love with the physical medium of film, Brynntrup is as much a media artist as an experimental filmmaker. For, he hasn’t shied away from embracing newer forms of filmmaking while staying true to his passion. It’s no wonder then that his descriptor for Selfencoding (2016), made in HD, goes, “Bye-bye, bits and bytes: I’ve mathematised myself into digital codes."     

 On September 21, 8 pm 
At Harkat Studios, Bungalow No. 94, Aram Nagar Part II, Versova, Andheri West. 
Call 8104752001 
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Entry Rs 250

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