Queer cinema archives in Hamburg: lavender against the male gaze

Heide Schlüpmann and Karola Gramann are specialists in feminist, queer cinema. You are now staying in Hamburg for a week.

Against Thatcher’s regime: Jenny Runacre in Derek Jarman’s punk film “Jubilee” (1978) Photo: Photo: Malavida Films

HAMBURG taz | With over 5,800 analog film copies, the Kinemathek Hamburg has one of the largest such archives in Germany. The two founders of the Frankfurter Kinothek Asta Nielsen granted, Heide Schlüpmann and Karola Gramann – and they got a carte blanche to present some of their finds in Hamburg’s Metropolis cinema.

Schlüpmann and Gramann have made a name for themselves with their theoretical and practical work on feminist-queer cinema, and it is this diverse perspective that makes their selection all the more interesting. The largest part of the program is made up of five feature films, which are actually small Dorothy-Arzner-retrospective off.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Arzner was the only director who managed to make a career in Hollywood. Long forgotten, it was not rediscovered until 1970, specifically “Dance. Girl, Dance” from 1940 became a prime example of overcoming the male gaze that had dominated popular cinema for so long. In the film (which can be seen in the original version on August 9 and 10), Maureen O’Hara rips off her wig while dancing on the stage of a variety club and insults the men in the audience. A similarly strong feminist perspective is offered by Arzner’s 1933 film “Christopher Strong”, in which Katharine Hepburn plays a famous aviator (11 and 13 August).

A total of six films by Arzner exist as 16mm copies in the Kinemathek Hamburg; In addition to the ones already mentioned, three more will now be shown: “Craig’s Wife” from 1936 (13 + 14 August), “First Comes Courage” from 1943 (with an introduction on 13 August) and “Nana” (1934, with an introduction on 10.8.) – even Schlüpmann and Gramann had not seen these films before they discovered them in the Hamburg archive.

Derek Jarman double program

Karola Gramann was also happy about another find: a 35mm copy of “The Tempest” (1979), her favorite film by Derek Jarman, can now be seen on the same evening as Jarman’s “Jubilee” (12.8.), which the cinematheque is showing on 16mm owns. So there comes a Shakespeare film adaptation the first film about the then British punk scene. For the director, there were no fundamental differences between such subjects. Gramann appreciates the fact that his works are “embedded in the historical and cultural realities of England in connection with his protest against the regime of Margaret Thatcher”.

Finally, the third program block provides insights into the film-historical work: The feature film with the beautiful name “Red Ears shredded through the ashes”, shot in 1991 by the film artists Ashley Hans Scheirl, Ursula Pürrer and Dietmar Schipek, was in the 1990s Cult film of the international queer scene When Karola Gramann wanted to show it at a festival a few years ago, she realized that there was no longer a screenable copy. She started an initiative to make the film restore and digitize; this work was almost complete when she found out that a copy still existed – namely in Hamburg.

Searched, not found – and then you did

“A look into the archive special – carte blanche”: 8.-14. 8. Hamburg Metropolis


The so-called reference copy of the Hamburg Film Fund, which “Rote Haken” had co-financed at the time, was found in the cinematheque. This 16mm version was stored in the Federal Archives for a long time and was only played extremely seldom. Archivists call such almost perfectly preserved films “lavender”. At the start of the guest performance by the two Frankfurters, the Metropolis will be showing both the Hamburg archive copy and the restored digital version on Monday, August 8th. There will be differences in the sound, in the colors, but above all a different “image perception”, according to Gramann. But it is quite a risk: in a double feature, the same film twice.

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