After the screening talk with Boris Lehman and Christoph Huber, hosted by Tobias Hering.
Boris Lehman, Belgium 1979, 34 min., OV with german subtitles
Bruxelles – Transit
Samy Szlingerbaum, Belgium 1980, 80 min., OV with english subtitles
After Amos Vogel had visited the Forum of the Berlinale in 1981, he wrote an article about it for Film Comment. It began with a description of the emotional Q&A that followed Bruxelles-Transit, “Samy Szlingerbaum’s film of his family in the Nazi period spoken entirely in Yiddish. Present-day, nightlit, and empty Brussels streets, stylized tableaux of lyrical power, and his mother’s unrehearsed, taped recollections served as poetic representations of a past no longer available.” Boris Lehman, who played Szlingerbaum’s father in Bruxelles-Transit, had already shot a film which is in many ways complementary, Symphonie. “The hero of the film is Jacob Rabinovitch. He is a Jew. In reality, he is Romain Schneid, and as the latter imagines his condition in 1942. At that time, Belgium was occupied by the Germans and Romain, a child of 12, had to live in hiding with a lady, Madame Stine, in Etterbeck, a suburb of Brussels, where the Resistance was forming.” (Lehman) Amos Vogel saw the two films as a double feature in the Forum. The trauma of a man suddenly declared a pariah and the instability of a family in exile must inevitably have reminded him of his own biography. Having fled from the Nazis in Vienna as a 17-year-old, Vogel came to the USA with his family in 1938. The act of emigration, his Jewish roots and the extermination of relatives and childhood friends in the concentration camps left an internal texture that Vogel never denied but also only revealed at seldom moments. These moments were often when he came into contact with post-war Germany, whose seeming convalescence he followed with interest but also a large degree of skepticism. This evening is an attempt to approach Amos Vogel’s relationship to his emigré biography, mirrored in the two films and by way of quotes and texts by him.
“The gatekeepers exist to be overthrown.” Amos Vogel – Repeats and Responses is a program of Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art and is curated by Tobias Hering. It was made possible by funding from the Hauptstadtkulturfonds.
Additional support from Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa.
Tobias Hering is a freelance film curator, who recently presented at bi'bak the programme Freundschaft auf Zeit (2019) on contract work and internationalism in the GDR. He is currently responsible for the archive project re-selected at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. In this context began a research around Amos Vogel which has yielded, among other programs, the three-part tribute “The gatekeepers exist to be overthrown” through which Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art honors its long and close relationship to this New York film curator.
Boris Lehman is a Belgian experimental filmmaker and was born in 1944 in a Jewish family. He has collaborated with several filmmakers, including Chantal Akerman, Samy Szlingerbaum and Henri Storck. He has directed and produced about 500 films and is considered an ‘unclassifiable’ filmmaker in the landscape of Belgian independent cinematography.
Christoph Huber is a curator in the program department of the Austrian Film Museum in Vienna, where he has been involved in the conception of several major retrospectives and is co-curating the series, “Amos Vogel Atlas”. From 1999 to 2014 he was a film critic and culture editor at Die Presse. Huber is the European correspondent of Cinema Scope and writes for several international print and online magazines.