This programme of short films is part of a two-day focus dedicated to the Austrian film director and historian Günter Peter Straschek (1942–2009). This session will be the first UK presentation of his radical short films made between 1966 and 1970, presented here alongside two short works by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. The second part of this focus on Straschek, his seminal five-part series Filmemigration aus Nazi-Deutschland (1975), made for German television, will be shown at Birkbeck Cinema and the Goethe-Institut on 1 April.
Straschek’s first film, Hooray for Mrs. E., is a sober portrait of a mother who supplements her welfare income with prostitution.
Huillet and Straub’s short film, The Bridegroom, the Actress and the Pimp, shares concerns with Hooray for Mrs. E., in that it is also a film that reflects on the position of women in postwar Germany. The film is constructed in three sequences: a tracking shot through the streets of Munich at night, a staging of a play by Ferdinand Bruckner, and a related love story shot as a film noir.
A Western for the SDS, which led to Straschek being expelled from the German Film and Television Academy, portrays the development of the Left as a learning process among women who sharpen their awareness in the movement but continue to have no say.
Straschek’s On the Concept of ‘Critical Communism’ in Antonio Labriola addresses the chasm between workers and intellectuals and describes the “difficulties of the revolution” (Labriola) with a sharp sense of humour.
Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene’ (featuring the voice of Straschek) is Straub and Huillet’s fierce condemnation of the horrors of war and capitalism connecting the rise of fascism to imperialism, the role of Germany and the war in Vietnam, through the words of Schoenberg written in 1923 and Bertolt Brecht’s 1935 speech to the International Congress in Defence of Culture.
Hooray for Mrs. E.[Hurra für Frau E.], Dir. Günter Peter Straschek, West Germany, 1966, digital [originally 16mm], black & white, 7 mins.
A Western for the SDS, [Ein Western für den SDS], Dir. Günter Peter Straschek, West Germany, 1967–68, digital [originally 16mm], black & white, 23 min.
The Bridegroom, the Actress and the Pimp [Der Bräutigam, die Komödiantin und der Zuhälter], Dirs. Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, West Germany, 1968, digital [originally 35mm], black & white, 23 min.
On the Concept of ‘Critical Communism’ in Antonio Labriola (1843–1904) [Zum Begriff des ‘Kritischen Kommunismus’ bei Antonio Labriola (1843–1904)], Dir. Günter Peter Straschek, West Germany, 1970, digital [originally 16mm], black & white, 18 min.
Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene’ [Einleitung zu Arnold Schoenbergs Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene], Dirs. Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, West Germany, 1972, digital [originally 16mm], black and white, 15 min.