The Goethe-Institut London and its partners are pleased to present The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, the first complete UK retrospective of the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, who have crafted one of the most influential and controversial oeuvre in modern cinema.
Running from March until June 2019 across several London venues, the season will include Huillet and Straub’s long and short films directed between 1962 and 2006. The retrospective will also feature video works of Jean-Marie Straub after Huillet’s death in 2006. Additional events and workshops will provide an opportunity for in-depth engagement with the filmmakers’ unique aesthetics and political engagement. Viewers can experience the exquisite craftsmanship and sheer beauty of their work, as all films are presented in digitally restored copies and on new 35mm prints.
Screenings and events will take place at the ICA, BFI Southbank, King’s College London, Goethe-Institut London, Ciné Lumière, Close-Up, and the Whitechapel Gallery. Please visit the Goethe-Institut London’s website for up-dates. Events beyond March will be added in due course.
Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub met in 1954, and in fifty-two years of shared life and work directed twenty-eight feature films. Their oeuvre is one of the most unique, beautiful and uncompromising of modern cinema. From the very start, their films confronted the politics of post-war Europe, and Germany in particular, revealing the historical layers and continuity of violence of the past in the present, something they continued to investigate throughout their vast filmography. Their cinema is as diverse as the texts and documents that have often served as the basis of their films: music by Bach and Schoenberg, writings by Brecht, Hölderlin, Duras, Kafka, Pavese or Vittorini. They reinterpreted forgotten or overlooked classical texts, investing them with a renewed polemical relevance. The films bring stories of class struggle and resistance to the surface, examining relations of power and proposing a critique of capitalism throughout history and across linguistic and territorial borders. Created with intense rigour, beauty and political enthusiasm, each of their films demands our full attention at every moment, reinventing cinema as something still surprising and necessary. They reflect Straub and Huillet’s creativity and generosity, as well as their solidarity for the people they worked with and their respect for language and nature. Critic Louis Séguin once wrote that Straub and Huillet: ‘… belong to a non-hierarchical and frontierless clan of rebels, stateless persons and social misfits, and the challenge of their cinema matches this permanent irreducibility’.
Despite the importance and influence of their work, the films are still largely inaccessible and there has not been a UK retrospective of their films since the early 1990s. This major retrospective presents the work in all its richness and complexity during three months of screenings across several London venues. It includes over forty-seven films, including shorts, directed between 1962 and 2006, as well as the video works Straub directed on his own after the death of Danièle Huillet, and a series of talks and workshops. Prints will be shown in digital restorations and whenever possible in their original format, in new 35mm prints.
The retrospective is organised by the Goethe-Institut London in collaboration with BELVA Film and in partnership with BFI Southbank, the ICA, the Institut Français, Close-Up Film Centre, King’s College London, the German Screen Studies Network, the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Images (BIMI), and the Whitechapel Gallery. With the kind support from the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Londra, the Instituto Camões, BIRMAC (Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture) and the Department of German, King’s College London.