Hartmut is going to talk a little about his work at large and the politics of how his films are constructed. And we’ll screen one of his best films: B-52.
One of the most important radical voices in German film of the last 50 years, Hartmut Bitomsky is a writer and essayist, film director and producer. He’s made more than 40, essayistic, documentary films. He was a co-publisher and co-editor of one of the most important European film journals: Filmkritik1 .
Hartmut is going to talk a little about his work at large and the politics of how his films are constructed. And we’ll screen one of his best films: B-52 in which he explores one of the most vaunted weapons in American military history (the B-52 bomber) as an instrument of strategic and tactical warfare and a parable for American contemporary culture. He chronicles the aircraft from its design and construction in 1947 as the "Stratofortress" through the heyday of its tenure as the Cold War purveyor of nuclear weapons and its present day deconstruction on an airbase in the Arizona desert. Out of this story comes a critical portrait of a culture of immense power and wealth, technological sophistication, and intelligence that invests its entire economic surplus into military machinery of dubious legitimacy.
Bitomsky’s clear, unadorned, and open films approach the world, they describe it; they compile almost encyclopedic information about a subject, never try to resolve or ascribe meaning, and trust in and support you to synthesize the information given. They are, to a one, object lessons in one understated means of making of films politically.
Hartmut is also holding a kind of small-scale salon event on the Thursday evening, before the festival starts proper. There’s limited spaces for that so, if you’re interested, sign up through the CCA.
Thanks, as ever, to Marlies Pfeifer and the Goethe Institute Glasgow for their support with Hartmut’s visit.
- 1. A collectively owned, super-influential, open space for film discussion and production; it ran from 1957–1984, variously involving a really incredible group of writers, filmmakers and theorists that also included: Harun Farocki, Wolf-Eckart Bühler; Manfred Blank, Ingemo Engström, Gerhard Theuring, Hanns Zischler, Enno Patalas; Rudolph Thome and (briefly) a young Wim Wenders. Here’s how Harun Farocki introduced Filmkritik: “The first issue of the magazine Filmkritik (Film Criticism) was published in January 1957, it had 16 pages and cost 40 Pfennig. It was called Aktuelle Informationen für Filmfreunde (Up-to-Date Information for Film Lovers), the first sentence mentioned Walter Benjamin.” – sounds brilliant, no?
Introduction to B-52Credits
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Questions & AnswersCredits
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Video of the Discussion