Four documentary filmmakers, four talks, four key players of the German documentary film movement since the 60s: Hans-Dieter Grabe, Elfi Mikesch, Harun Farocki und Thomas Heise. Each of them has developed an own approach to filmmaking and a personal style. Christoph Hübner, a documentary filmmaker himself, succeeds in portraying four very different personalities, their works and their theories. Illustrated with excerpts from their films.
Dokumentarisch Arbeiten 2 - Germany 1998-2012 - Directed and photographed by: Christoph Hübner - Collaboration and sound recorded by: Gabriele Voss - With: Hans-Dieter Grabe, Elfi Mikesch, Harun Farocki, Thomas Heise - Produced by: Christoph Hübner Filmproduktion, Witten
About the project
The double DVD collection Documentary filmmaking 2 presents four more one-hour film conversations in the documentary film series. These conversations themselves have become part of the history of documentary filmmaking. No other project has ever focused on an exchange between documentarists in such detail and from within the intimacy of a conversation. Since 1995 the films in this series have been regularly broadcast on public television, as well as being screened at film festivals and shows. Books have been written to accompany the series, and the films are used as study material at many film schools. The history of documentary film unfolds live during the acts of speaking and pausing, as well as in detachment from the work and reflection on it. The conversation comes straight from within the documentary work rather than secondhand, as part of a talk show or an academic-style interview of the artist. In the presence of a camera, these films are encounters between documentarists, at home, at work, or during editing.
"Come into the open, my friend..." This first line of a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin has been a constant companion, as it neatly summarizes what is important to me about documentary film: working without a target and making use of improvisation and discovery. "Come into the open..." also reflects the attitude of these conversations: how they come about, develop, and proceed. They start somewhere, with a casual observation, a keyword, or a situation, and evolve from that point. Often it is this beginning which sets the tone and rhythm for the entire conversation.
Since the filmmakers in this series are auteurs, the persons and their films cannot be separated and vice versa. The conversations revolve around the films and the filmmakers in equal measures, as well as around their attitudes as authors. Yet public awareness unfortunately continues to see documentary film only in terms of its subject matter, reducing it to a "statement" or "message." But documentary film is also "form," deliberate artistic expression and purposeful application of its means. This is the prevailing theme of the series Documentary filmmaking, of which each one of the four auteurs in Documentary filmmaking 2 is an excellent example.
Despite or perhaps because of his position at the public television channel ZDF, Hans-Dieter Grabe has developed his own unmistakable signature style which falls between journalism and documentary (similar to Klaus Wildenhahn during his time at the TV channel NDR).
Among the "political" filmmakers whose origins lie in the student movement, Harun Farocki is perhaps the most brilliant regarding form and the most deliberate. He explores uncharted documentary territory with his video installations.
The cinematographer and idiosyncratic filmmaker Elfi Mikesch has significantly contributed to the extension of the aesthetic boundaries of the "standard" documentary.
With his background in Brechtian theater and the material-like, pure poetic style of his documentaries, Thomas Heise has created his very own kind of filmic expression.
DVD features (2-disc DVD)
- Christoph Hübner talks with Hans-Dieter Grabe 1998, 64'
- Christoph Hübner talks with Elfi Mikesch 2000, 60'
- Christoph Hübner talks with Harun Farocki 2005, 60'
- Christoph Hübner talks with Thomas Heise 2012, 59'
- Booklet with texts by Christoph Hübner
Edited by: Filmmuseum München, Goethe-Institut München
DVD authoring: Ralph Schermbach
DVD supervision: Markus Prasse
First edition May 2013