Am Siel (Peter Nestler, 1962) - 12’
PN: Am Siel was for me, a chance to mirror Germany in a village, and to gather what affected me. In the village there is this ‘Kriegerdenkmal’, a monument adorned with the Eisernes Kreuz—the Nazi’s medal of valor - with a text that says that they flushed away thoughts about the future and the past with their schnapps.
MG: Already here, there are highly developed ideas concerning montage that run through your 60s work…
PN: Yes, Kurt Ulrich and I were very influenced by Eisenstein’s montage and his work with drawings before he filmed, in order to get the images mentally clear. We worked like this with Am Siel, and one of the advantages of this was that we were poor as church rats, and only had some spare 16mm material from Strobel and Tichawski, the documentary filmmakers. We had to count precisely how much we filmed; we had a silent Arriflex where one could see the meters ticking on the back of the camera. It’s like in painting when you only have chalk or coal to draw with, it’s another way of working if you don’t have the ability to paint with oil.
Itinéraire de Jean Bricard (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 2008) - 40’
Based on the eponymous book by Jean-Yves Petiteau, Itinéraire de Jean Bricard is composed of long journeys along the Loire River, shot in silvery black-and-white. This is the place where Bricard grew up during the German occupation. Observations of the land and the water accompany Bricard’s narration, recorded by Petiteau in 1994, about the rich history of the region, from commercial fishing and farming in the 1930s, though the Occupation, the Resistance and its brutal suppression. The film is dedicated to Peter Nestler. (Courtisane)
Die Donau rauf (Peter Nestler & Zsóka Nestler, 1969) - 31’
Peter and Zsóka Nestler’s films are history lessons relating the past to the present, the old to the new. At the beginning of this film, we listen to a traditional Hungarian song about the history of the Danube (“...the wind blows from the Danube...”), set against images of a potter’s hands shaping a vase on a wheel. We hear a young boy in a classroom describing in detail the facts related to the Battle of Mohács, in 1526. The film was shot in the summer of 1969, in beautiful colour, and documents a series of journeys up the river on a steamboat. Many-layered narratives unearthed from the ancient and recent past blend with the slow progression of the riverboat, the moving landscape and images of people at work. The film addresses the cultural, social and political history of the river by bringing together scattered histories, from remains found on the riverbanks to the history of shipbuilding and commerce between the two world wars, the peasants’ revolt in the 17th century and the horror of the Holocaust (through a poem by Miklós Radnóti read by Zsóka Nestler). The archaeological dimension of the work by these filmmakers is summarized by one of the first images in this film, in which a boy is playing with a small heap of bones he digs from the soil, and which prompted the filmmaker Hartmut Bitomsky to describe the main gesture of Peter Nestler’s films as one of “finding, showing, and holding”. (Courtisane)
In the presence of Peter Nestler