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2015

THE MODERN CITY: DVD-RELEASE AND FILM SCREENING WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY CURATOR FLORIAN WÜST

"17 October. Today suddenly quite strongly realized the value of the film: reluctance and doubt completely past. Gripped by this work task. Already over the last few days had at times moments full of keenness and excitement, moments in which life could be sensed, but everything still lay mute under the radiations of phoniness." /Peter Weiss

EN DAG I STADEN, Pontus Hultén & Hans Nordenström, Sweden 1956, 19 min
DIE STADT (The City), Herbert Vesely, West Germany 1960, 36 min
BAG DE ENS FACADER (Behind the same façades), Peter Weiss, Denmark 1961, 27 min

Author and playwright Peter Weiss’ last film project was a half-hour documentary about collective habitation at the outskirts of Copenhagen, commissioned by the Statens Filmcentral for Dansk Kulturfilm. It was a struggle on many levels—privately and professionally. But apart from marking a turning point in the life and work of Weiss, Bag de ens facader (Behind the same façades) presents an outstanding document on the subject of modern housing and city planning at the beginning of the 1960s.

In keeping with the “Neues Bauen” of the 1920s, the modernization of the European metropolis after 1945 aimed to create better living conditions for the working population. Housing space was in short supply. Industrial mass production and consumer culture confronted people and their social relationships with enormous changes. The medium of film served as a means both to promote the urban and transportation models “of tomorrow,” and to lend expression to critique of the rationalization of everyday life.

Besides the Swedish premiere of Bag de ens facader in digital version with English subtitles, the screening will feature Pontus Hultén and Hans Nordenström’s dadaistic take on Stockholm in En dag i staden (1956) and the experimental film essay Die Stadt by Herbert Vesely from 1960, shot in West Berlin. All three films make part of a new DVD edition entitled Die moderne Stadt. Film essays on the new urbanity of the 1950s and 60s, edited by Ralph Eue and Florian Wüst and produced in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.

Thanks to the Swedish Film Institute for digitization of the film within the project Digitization of film heritage.

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