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LICHTER Focus 2016: Frontiers

For the fifth time now, the International Feature Film Program of the LICHTER Filmfest Frankfurt International is much influenced by a special topic, which dominates the current media discussion. Following »Revolution«, »City«, »Humour« and »Money«, this year’s topic is »Frontiers«. But while, concerning this matter, most people might think of the numerous wars and armed conflicts across the globe and might consider how Europe in particular and certainly also the international community handle the mass movement of fugitives, the film festival also features unobvious aspects of this topic. Frontiers do not simply run between nations and cultures. Social affiliation, worldviews and moral values, routines, and desires are defined through and across frontiers. The thirteen feature films of the international series offer versatile perspectives on visible and invisible frontiers.

LICHTER takes place from March 29th to April 3rd 2016 at several cinemas in Frankfurt and Rhine Main Area/Germany. Here is a selection of some of my favourites:


Coma Coma (Documentary, SY/LB 2015), Arab. OV with Engl. subtitles, 98 min., Director: Sara Fattahi (Direct Link)

A dark apartment in Damascus, three women from three generations of one family and an attentive camera, the meticulous and incisive gaze recording daily events for many years. Sarah Fattahi films the other side of the Syrian civil war, the private – whilst in front of the lowered blinds their home disappears. The political reality penetrates the intimacy of family life only in bits and pieces, through emails, messages and stories. At the end it becomes obvious that the boundary between inside and outside, the self-reliance of the family, can no longer be maintained in the face of the war. Resulting from this family portrait – and without actually showing any violence – is an impressive representation of a society that decomposes little by little under the pressure of the civil war.


Experimenter Experimenter (Biopic, USA 2015), Engl. OV, 97 min., Director: Michael Almereyda (Direct Link) German Premiere

What are the limitations of blind obedience? To answer this question, the psychologist Stanley Milgram developed a sensational experiment in 1961. He wanted to show that people are willing to follow authorities even against their own moral sense. In the Milgram-experiment, volunteers slipped into the role of teachers. Wrong answers by their “students” should be punished with electric shocks. Many »teachers« did not hesitate to even deliver fatal electric shocks regardless if the students screamed and begged for mercy. Not knowing that the students were only actors and the electric shocks were not real, the volunteers explained their conduct with having merely followed instructions. The experiment fed into the debate on deference to authority and the nature of man during the Eichmann-trial. The star-studded film shows the life of a courageous scientist between admiration and hostility.

LICHTER 2016_Internationales Programm_The Wakhan The Wakhan Front (Feature Film, F/BEL 2015), French/Arabic original with subtitles, 100 min., Director: Clément Cogitore (Direct Link) German Premiere

The Wakhan is a mountain range between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The rugged and inaccessible no-man’s-land is a hide-out for Taliban fighters. NATO commander Antarès Bonnassieuis determined to complete his mission: He has to establish order and security at the »end of the world«. His soldiers monitor mountain tops and shepherds. Only rarely does a warning shot disrupt the silence. Military routine – until one night when two soldiers disappear under mysterious circumstances. Bonnassieu starts searching. When the Taliban, too, lose men, cluelessness ensues: Is there a natural explanation – or is the Wakhan an Afghan Bermuda Triangle?

Clément Cogitore breaks with genre limitations in his feature film debut. Military rationality is challenged by supernatural forces. In a subtly philosophical manner, The Wakhan Front poses the question of power between human and nature.


LICHTER 2016_Internationales Programm_The other Side Louisiana – The Other Side (Documentary, FR/IT 2015), Engl. OV, 92 min., Director: Roberto Minervini (Direct Link)

Deep in the wasteland of the American South, in the state of Louisiana, director Roberto Minervini opens up a door for us that leads into the abyss of today’s America: To white trash, the lost white underclass of American society. For them, the American Dream will remain a fantasy. Shaped by a life between anarchy and illegality, most of these hopeless middle-aged men and women do not have much left except for drugs, alcohol and at worst suicide. They live their everyday racism and anti-regime fanaticism without inhibitions. They feel betrayed by American society. Their alienation and disappointment becomes obvious in their campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again” The Other Side provides disturbingly deep and blunt insights into the everyday life of a society that has given up on itself.

After the successful world premiere at the Festival de Cannes 2015 in the category »Un Certain Regard«, the film is now shown in Hesse for the first time.


The Lobster The Lobster (Feature Film, IR/GB/GRC/F/USA 2015), English OV with subtitles, 118 min., Director: Yorgos Lanthimos (Direct Link)

In the near future: After eleven years and one month of being in a relationship David is left by his wife. This is a serious offence because according to the laws of the totalitarian society every human is obliged to live in a partner relationship. However, David is given another chance. At an isolated hotel, together with numerous other people sharing his fate he has 45 days to find a new partner. If he doesn’t succeed he will be transformed into an animal of his choice and will be chased away into the woods.

The Lobster is the first English language film by the Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose 2009 film Dogtooth has been nominated for an Oscar and has been awarded several times in CannesÜ. With surreal images, black and even grotesquely enhanced humor, and a top-class cast even in the smallest supporting roles, The Lobster tells a dystopian fable about love, loneliness, and the overcoming of conventions.

The repeatedly decorated director Yorgos Lanthimos was once more able to convince with The Lobster and received the Jury Prize in Cannes in 2015 and was nominated for the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm).


Masaan Masaan (Feature Film, IND/F 2015), English OV with subtitles, 103 min., Director: Neeraj Ghaywan (Direct Link) German Premiere

In his first film Masaan, Neeraj Ghaywan tells of the coming of age of young people halfway between tradition and modernity in today’s India. The student Devi gets caught by the police with her lover in a hotel room. Out of shame, the lover commits suicide. Devi and her father are blackmailed by a corrupt cop, who threatens to bring the alleged misconduct before the public.

Deepak on the other hand, who as a worker at the crematory belongs to the lower caste, is looking for a way to be able to be with his first love from a higher caste. In their own way, both Devi and Deepak struggle against the caste system, a radical sexual morality, and the brutal punishment awaiting those who break with the traditional values. Slowly, they are approaching a modernity which offers them alternatives to the hierarchy with which their fathers still came to terms with.

With wit and life, Ghaywan tells of two strong personalities, whose paths eventually cross in Varanasi, one of India’s holiest cities. In Cannes, Ghaywan has been awarded the “Promising Future Price” for his debut, which potentially tells the exemplary story of a generation which is searching for a way out of a value system with which it hardly identifies anymore.

LICHTER Filmfest

Heute beginnt das Lichter – Filmfest Frankfurt International. Ein Filmfest, das seinen Ursprung in der regionalen Filmlandschaft hat und die Werke, die in der Region entstehen, in seiner ganzen Breite vorstellt. Dazu eine Plattform für spannende Filme aus aller Welt, die gleichzeitig der wachsenden Vernetzung der Region und der hohen Diversität des Weltkinos Rechnung trägt. Dazu trägt auch ein umfangreiches Rahmenprogramm bei: Workshops und Diskussionsrunden rund um den Film, der Videokunst-Wettbewerb LICHTER Art Award und nicht zuletzt das kommunikative Herz – ein Festivalzentrum mit ausgesuchter Bewirtung, Partys und Raum für Gespräche und Diskussionen.

LICHTER Filmfest Frankfurt International vom 25.03. – 30.03.2014.

LICHTER 2014 (Official Trailer) from LICHTER Filmfest

Lichter Filmfest – Gags, Jokes & Univerzal Trooths

140123_LFFI_Postkarte_A6_Berlinale_RZ.indd If you believe in Bergson’s thesis that all humour is basically generated by crossing natural human, organic behavior and mechanical, automatic, repetitive patterns (of course his theory is more eloborate, but that’s what he boils it down to himself), than film is the comic medium par excellence. All human behavior is mechanised in film, a fact that can easily be made visible if we fast forward something on a tape recorder and witness very funny movements indeed. One of the major realms of filmmaking has spun out of this, the comedy that has been around since the early days of silent film. Still, it is often not regarded as an adequate genre for »serious« festivals, being thought of as being »mere entertainment«. This year’s LICHTER Filmfest proves this stereotype wrong. It shows the whole gamut of comic filmmaking, from Korean blockbusters to small German documentaries. The films combine slapstick and political commentary as in »La fille du 14 juillet«, romantic comedy and an unusual take on the human voice as in »In a world…« or a biting parody of the film industry with insights into the fabrication of bodies in the media as in »Vulgaria«. The program of roughly a dozen films will be accompanied by numerous debates and lectures about humour and comedy involving amongst others, Bob Mankoff of The New Yorker, the Israeli collective »A theory of the deep understaning of things« and German director Leander Haußmann. Please follow these recommendations or visit the screening schedule for the whole section.

Swandown »Swandown« (Documentary, 2012), Original English Version, 94 min. Director: Andrew Koetting (Direct Link)

»Swandown« is the documentation of an unusual journey with Olympian traits. Two men sail on a plastic swan from Hastings, which lies on the south coast of England to London. During this journey, director Andrew Koetting and screenwriter Iain Sinclair cross rivers, canals and the open sea. On their spectacular trip they have all sorts of chance encounters with people who are amused by the trio, are surprised, or even pass derogatory comments about this voyage. In addition, guests like the comic artist Alan Moore and comedian Stewart Lee occasionally accompany them. Together they experience the adversity of their environment. With references to Werner Herzog’s »Fitzcarraldo« and Les Blank’s »Burden of Dreams«, as well as Dada-esque echoes, »Swandown« creates an absurd odyssey that, due to the picturesque English countryside, convinces the viewer with its impressive motifs. Germany Premiere

Les Coquelletes »Les Coquillettes« (Fictional Documentary, 2013), 75 min. Director: Sophie Letourneur (Direct Link)

Sophie Letourneur, director and lead actress of the film, throws herself together with two of her friends – all filmmakers – into amorous entanglements at the film festival in Locarno. She shot her second feature film on a shoestring budget but with a lot of gusto for the cinematic experiment during the actual festival. The result is a »film-within-a-film within-a-film«, which never comes across as academic or boring but shows what cinema can still do better than any other medium: capture the spirit of a generation. »Les Coquillettes« is fiction and reality, a narrative experiment, French low-budget cinema and »Gaul’s reply to Lena Dunham« (The Hollywood Reporter): but above all, an extremely humorous portrait of a generation. Germany Premiere

Somebody up there likes me »Somebody Up There Likes me« (Feature Film, 2012), 75 min. Director: Robert Byington (Direct Link)

Max is actually a very ordinary young man his late 20s who has to choose a path in life. But this path does not turn out as you would imagine. Despite economic success and three marriages to beautiful women, he pursues his own life with increasing passivity, and in contrast to all others, he is not growing any older. In a very comical way, he stumbles through the 35 years, which director Bob Byington describes in the best tradition of American indie film. The outstanding performer (especially Keith Poulson and Nick Offerman (»Parks and Recreation«)) draw a portrait of their generation and, at the same time, an apt parody on the interminable success stories, which are flooding cinema and television. »An appealingly odd mix, like a Todd Solondz film directed by Wes Anderson« – Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter. Rhine-Main-Premiere

Vulgaria »Vulgaria« (Feature Film, 2012), 90 min. Director: Pang Ho-Cheung (Direct Link)

The serious setting is misleading: As the film producer To Wai-Cheung has to describe his profession during a lecture in an elegant university lecture theatre, he chooses a, well, unexpected metaphor – like pubic hair, producers are called upon to dampen the frictions between the different players of a production. Thus, the tone of the film is set. As it quickly turns out, To earns his livelihood mainly with B-movies, is struggling with his successful ex-wife and his capricious assistant, and has to deal with a mob boss from the mainland to finance his new work. In the course of these struggles, To gets confronted with strange oral sex practices, fried cow vagina and a Chinese culture clash. If you wish, Bakhtin could be sensed and who cannot, may simply look forward to one and a half hours of tasteless gags on a high level.

In a world... »In a world…« (Feature Film, 2013), 93 min. Director: Lake Bell (Direct Link)

Carol works as a vocal coach and occasionally lends her voice also to commercials or movie trailers. The big break through, however, remains elusive. Usually, she finds it hard to compete against her male colleagues. Contrary to expectations, she suddenly finds herself in the selection as a trailer voice for a substantial trilogy. The other candidates are the big stars of the industry, her father Sam and his protégé Gustav. Despite that, Carol is facing the battle – against pride, sexism and prejudice. She could achieve a lot and shape the understanding of an entire generation. Lake Bell shines in this comedy, for which she was awarded the 2013 Sundance Screenplay Award. In a world… questions, in addition to gender stereotypes, also family and social structures and entertains through everyday, interpersonal chaos.

Key of life »Key of life« (Feature Film, 2012), 96 min. Director: Kenji Uchida (Direct Link)

In a bathhouse, the paths of the wealthy professional killer Kondo and the debt-ridden as well as unsuccessful actor Sakurai cross. When Kondo suffers an accident, Sakurai quickly swaps their locker keys and assumes the identity of Kondo. Kondo, suffering from amnesia, takes on the life of Sakurai. But whilst Kondo makes the acquaintance of the crazy-to-get-married, ambitious but equally lovely Kanae, Sakurai must deal with the Yakuza. Uchida tells this story with subtle humour, handing out the odd sarcastic jab from time to time. His comedy thriller, which won the Nippon Cinema Award in 2013, excites with its precise image compositions, fascinating characters, sharp dialogues and a fast-paced showdown.

LICHTER takes place from March 25th to 30th, 2013 at several cinemas in Frankfurt and Rhine Main Area/Germany.


The exhibit nonliteral presents thirteen international projects of new and diverse storytelling methodologies in video art. In addition to works by Rebecca Allen, Bjørn Melhus, Yves Netzhammer, Kota Ezawa, Julia Charlotte Richter and Katrin Stroebel, films by Inbar Ben Ishay, Candice Breitz, Stefan Constantinescu, Cao Guimarães, Richard Mosse, Jack + Ruby Leigh and Julika Rudelius can also be seen. Recent works and works which already achieved an historical status are presented side by side. Along with animation and performance approaches, you will also find artistic ideas that reference the technique of collage (found footage) as well as the new narrative strategies of American series.

The timeline begins with Bjørn Melhus’s 2001 piece »The Oral Thing«, which is a parody of U.S. reality TV, and finishes with this year’s Venice Biennale Irish Pavillion exhibition, the 5- channel installation »The Enclave« by Richard Mosse, which speaks of the horrors of the ongoing war in Congo and the suffering of the population, in images that have a strange and seductive beauty.

Richard Mosse · »Platon, North Kivu, Eastern Congo«, 2012 Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Richard Mosse · »Platon, North Kivu, Eastern Congo«, 2012
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

»The Enclave« is a search for more adequate strategies to represent eastern Congo’s overlooked humanitarian disaster, in which at least 5.4 million people have died of war-related causes since 1998. Employing an obsolete military surveillance film which registers infrared light, The Enclave immerses the viewer in a challenging and sinister world, exploring aesthetics in a situation of profound human suffering. At the heart of the project, as Mosse states, is an attempt to bring »two counter-worlds into collision: art’s potential to represent narratives so painful that they exist beyond language, and photography’s capacity to document specific tragedies and communicate them to the world«.

Jack + Leigh Ruby’s installation translates real events directly into cinematic fiction. Produced by the artists Eve Sussman and Simon Lee, »Car Wash Incident« is an re-enactment of an actual insurance fraud, its planning and implementation differing very little, arguably, from many artistic strategies. World premiere at B3 Biennale – Frankfurt 2013!

Car Wash Incident – 6 min. excerpt

The exhibition will be hosted at the brand new quarters of Atelierfrankfurt. For the first time, it will open its new home in Frankfurt’s East End to a wider audience.

nonliteral – Artistic Positions on New Narratives
Opening in Atelierfrankfurt: 31.10.2013 at 8.30 pm
Exhibition Duration: 01.11. – 07.11.2013
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday, daily from 10 – 20 Uhr


The B3 Moving Image Biennial is a new festival which explores and celebrates the world of the moving image. It will be held from 10/30 to 11/03/2013 in Frankfurt and in the Rhine-Main region. The central theme is »Expanded Narration. Das neue Erzählen«. As part of this festival, a special screening will also take place to present a new dimension of moviegoing experience that involves freeing the film from the convention of the rectangular screen and extending it across the entire cinema space.

A 360˚ dome projection immerses viewers in a world of images: we no longer look at pictures, but find ourselves in their midst, just as in real life. The fulldome experience is perhaps the most striking example of the theme of Imersion, which is devoted to the innovative transformation of moving images and sounds in, and into, space. This new medium, long a staple for projecting scientific films in planetariums, is now being explored by film and video artists around the world. Excited about its array of possibilities, from innovative feature-length narrative films to experimental installations, the international scene gathers every year at the »FullDome Festival« in Jena.

The B3 Biennial brings to Frankfurt for the first time a selection of high-caliber artistic fulldome films from Canada, the USA, Australia, England, Spain, and Germany, and features discussions with the filmmakers about the future of this new medium. Follow these recommendations or visit the screening schedule for the whole section. And here is the complete festival programme.

»Carte Blanche to SAT« – SAT FEST 2013 
»SAT FEST 2013« is a selection of immersive short films created by more than 16 Montreal-based artists and coproduces by the Society for Arts and Technology [SAT]. 

Thursday, 31. October 2013, 20:00 – 21:00

»Alien Action« with Ralph Heinsohn
Mortal fear, hamster purchases, masshysteria! Aliens have landed in Frankfurt. Mean battle droids have targeted earth in the darwinistic struggle for territory and start the invasion in the middle of the baking capital. The Fulldome movie Alien Action reveals itself to be an unusual and ironic interpretation of »War of the Worlds« and combines science fiction and pop art in a collage of animation, music videos and radio play elements.
Friday, 1. November 2013, 21:00 – 22:00

»Six Mil Antennas« with Johnny Ranger
»Six Mil Antennas« is a 360 degree immersive film that employs a range of visual and audio codes to bring a surrealist perspective to the forefront. Framing shifting communication processes in a fictional setting, the whimsical, open-ended work re-imagines different states of the world in a futuristic timeframe. Through a series of events, the piece alternates its tone between deconstructed gravity, aesthetic sensuality and satirical humor. Inserting filmed actors in faux designed landscapes, the film creates non-linear narratives of a personal, social and political nature and expresses a complex intertwining multiverse, in which the characters and abstract landscapes evolve.
Saturday, 2. November 2013, 20:00 – 21:00

Six Mil Antennas / Extended trailer

B3 Moving Image Biennial | 10/30 to 11/03/2013 from 11 p.m. to midnight at several locations | Frankfurt/Germany

CityLeaks 2013

The CityLeaks Urban Art Festival 2013 has just started. From 2nd to 22nd September 2013 national and international artists will design public spaces and facades and turn the city of Cologne into a large stage for contemporary urban art. In the run-up of the festival four big murals by Maya Hayuk (USA), Gais ama (BR), Stohead (GER) and Aryz (ES) have already been painted. Apart from artistic interventions the festival offers many opportunities for participation. A wide communications programme for visitors and a multifaceted supporting programme is also offered. Among them several cologne galleries, off loctions and theatres crucially contribute to CityLeak 2013 with their most diverse programme and help to establish the festival’s intention. You will find more informations from the link above.

The Art of Punk

In this excellent debut episode of their »The Art of Punk« series, MOCAtv* dissects the art of the legendary Black Flag, from their iconic four bars symbols, to their coveted and now collectable gig flyers, singles, and band t-shirts, all depicting the distinctive Indian ink drawn image and text by artist Raymond Pettibon.

»The Art Of Punk« traces the roots of the punk movement and the artists behind the iconic logos of punk bands such as Black Flag (Raymond Pettibon), The Dead Kennedys (Winston Smith) and Crass (Dave King). The stories behind the art of the Dead Kennedys will debut on June 18, and June 25 will see the release of the Crass episode, all of which will be available at: www.youtube.com/MOCAtv. Filmmaker Bryan Ray Turcotte also posted the following Black Flag flyers and many more of his remarkable collection on Noisey.

Black Flag

Black Flag

Black Flag

Black Flag

*MOCAtv is a contemporary art video channel, developed as a digital extension of the education and exhibition programming of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.