This New York to Berlin transition is proving to be a bit tricky in the context of what I want to choose to write about on this blog right now. Unlike my move to New York three years ago, my expectations are tempered with the knowledge that I am not a member of the native culture (although, seemingly, foreigners are starting to outnumber Germans), nor do I speak its language proficiently (yet), nor do I know the specific social mores and aspects of living comfortably and happily here (yet).
I would suppose they're similar to how one does that anywhere, but I've been getting earfuls about the, sometimes, rocky terrain that can exist when you're living as a "foreigner" in the German culture. But I like the energy of the city of Berlin; it allows for a certain sense of breathing space, a human pace to the days. The rabid drinking and partying all night is familiar, though--but it's summertime when everyone is trying to soak enough warmth into their bones to last through the long winter ahead. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Isola.)
So, it's not that I don't care anymore about the things that I cared greatly about while residing in NYC, but they do have a different impact on my daily existence. And while I will certainly continue to celebrate the successes and accomplishments of friends and colleagues there, I hope to spend more time doing the same in a different milieu for new friends and colleagues and those whose work I admire and feel a need to call attention to. I will admit that there is a feeling of tedium for me in writing about certain things at this juncture and I look forward to new discoveries, both personal and professional, that might help to replenish my depleted tank. Emotionally and otherwise, I have been running on fumes for far too long. So here's some select "new stuff," both from NYC and here:
Sara Kiener, former manager of exhibitor relations at Magnolia Pictures (and my former outreach partner-in-crime) and Merrill Sterritt, former head of the production assistance program at Women Make Movies, have partnered to create Film Presence, a marketing and outreach company serving the independent film community. Continuing the work Kiener started doing independently, the company will produce "event-based theatrical screenings with strong outreach partnerships to boost box office sales and maximize the word of mouth leading up to theatrical engagements." Their summer/fall slate includes Tamra Davis' Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child which opened recently at New York City's Film Forum; Yael Hersonski's A Film Unfinished; the incredible Frederick Wiseman's latest, Boxing Gym; and Doug Block's newest film, The Kids Grow Up. Visit their newly-launched website to learn more about what they do. Go, girls.
Producer Christian Niedan has launched a great new blog called Camera in the Sun. Neidan will write on how film and television have shaped how we view various places around the globe. Starting domestically, he will soon be posting interviews with film commissioners across the US, and then expand to include Mexico, Canada and countries in northern and western Europe. Check in at Niedan's blog here.
There are a few new spots open at Brooklyn's UnionDocs Collaborative for both residents and non-residents beginning in September. The deadline to apply is next Sunday, August 1st. The collaborative is a one- or two-year program for emerging media producers, offering both a rigorous platform for exploring contemporary approaches to documentary (with an emphasis on cross-media work), and a process for developing a group project using ever-burgeoning innovations in the field. The program focuses on mentorships, structured exchange with visiting artists, regular group critique, and exposure through a toured exhibition and/or publication of an annual project. Click here for more info and the application.
First Run Features has some new DVD releases for July, most notably, Kimberly Reed's Prodigal Sons and Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith's The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.
Philadelphia-based filmmaker, Cheryl Dunye, has just arrived in Berlin to begin production on her new work, Mommy Is Coming. Her most recent film, The Owls, played at the Berlinale this past year and has been touring the festival circuit in the States. Billed as a raunchy adult comedy of errors, Mommy should placate the audience member who complained at Dunye's Q&A at Newfest in June that The Owls didn't have enough great lesbian sex scenes in it. Dunye's response was, "Wait until you see my new film." Produced by Jürgen Brüning Filmproduktion, principal photography begins here in early August.
From July 15 - 27, The Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art is hosting a retrospective of Canadian filmmaker Bruce LaBruce's work simply called, LaBruce. On opening night, the show consisted of five short pieces ranging from his early work in the 1980s with Candy Pauker to more recent selections, including a commissioned work from the ladies that make up the Toronto-based burlesque collective, The Scandelles, called Give Piece of Ass a Chance (still from film, pictured). LaBruce was in attendance (the director and "reluctant pornographer" is currently living and working in Berlin), and the program was followed by a conversation moderated by Marc Siegel with LaBruce, Susanne Sachsse (star of 2009's The Bad Breast Video and 2004's The Raspberry Reich which will play tomorrow night), and the hilarious and whip-smart, Berlin-based Miss Vaginal Davis (who also stars with Sachsse in Bad Breast). Click here to see the full program.
Triple Canopy hosted a talk this past Wednesday at PROGRAM, the initiative for art and architecture collaborations. The editors of Canopy, in partnership with the editors of 032c, XYM and Fillip, discussed how print culture is being changed by the manifold forms of online publications. The discussion centered around the changing nature of publishing and its related artistic and business practices (design, layout, defining audience(s), circulation, archiving back issues, etc.). 032c is a Berlin-based magazine of contemporary culture published twice a year; XYM is a Norwegian online publisher of temporarily available PDF projects; and Fillip is a Canadian magazine of art, culture and ideas published three times a year.
This Wednesday the 28th at PROGRAM (Invalidenstrasse 115 in Mitte) at 7:30 p.m., artist Oraib Toukan will talk about The Equity Is in the Circle, a "corporate intervention" that purports to auction off nation states under 100-year-old leaseholds. For this project, Toukan has contacted international market advisors and consultants about the steps needed to auction off territory. This has led to a branded initiative called Nayruz Holdings: The Middle East Auction. The Jordanian-born Toukan is a multimedia artist currently residing in Berlin. Her work looks fascinating to me.
Also on Wednesday from 9:00 - 11:00 p.m., I will be hosting what will be the first in a series of international film curations at the MMX Open Art Venue (Linienstrasse 142 / 143, also in Mitte) run by artists Rebecca Loyche, Jonathan Gröger, Daniel Wilson and Philip Eggersglüss. At the end of last year, the four of them transformed the 1000 square meter space from a dilapidated squat into one of Berlin's most popular alternative art scenes with hundreds of people drifting through the space during opening and closing exhibitions. Wednesday's program entitled, Quiet City--Helsinki, Finland, consists of two experimental pieces, the 13-minute Maa Jossa Voi Leikklä Elämää (Land for Playing Out Life) by Sanni Priha, the 31-minute Valon Lapset (The Illuminous Ones) by Jaakko Ruuska, and the 74-minute nonfiction piece, Kansakunnan Olohuone (The Living Room of the Nation) by Jukka Kärkkäinen. Thank you to Ina Rossow of Deckert Distribution here in Berlin for generous permission to show Living Room. Next month, I will be hosting an evening of selections from the Andrzej Wajda Master School of Film Directing in Warsaw, Poland and, another program of selections from the Balkans discovered at this year's Dokufest in Prizren, Kosovo where I will be jurying next week (more on this in a bit).
Lastly, I'd like to give a shout-out to new friends, Laurie and Barrett, for successfully launching the first-ever taco truck in Berlin, bringing yummy and authentic Mexican food to the city's jalapeño-starved denizens. Look for Tacos Berlin coming to a location near you!