Werkleitz Festival 24.-26.Oktober 2008

Press Material


All text files are written in German. For English versions please send your request to Ingrid Spörl


Vorworte  - Marcel Schwierin/Daniel Herrmann - zip (.doc)

Kurzinterview + Vitae - Marcel Schwierin/Daniel Herrmann -  .doc

Programm (kurz) - (PDF)

Filmstills - zip (.jpg)

Postkartenserie - zip (.jpg)




Press Release 3


The 8th edition of the Werkleitz Festival begins next week.

A reading from the hit publication, “Socialist Cowboys: East Germany’s Wild West” by authors Friedrich von Borries and Jens-Uwe Fischer (in the ‘Die Schöne Stadt’ Gallery, Steintor 19, Halle on Friday, 10th October at 8p.m) will kick-off the FORUM section of the Werkleitz Festival ‘America’. The Forum programme comprises readings, films and concerts that will take place in various venues in the town on the Saale, in the two weeks preceding the main Festival weekend. Kino Zazie will show the cult movie “Vanishing Point” in the presence of radio announcer Rex Joswig, whose radio show of the same name (broadcast from 1992-98 on DT64 and later on MDR Sputnik), also gained cult status. (“Grenzpunkt Null “ - ie: the German version- screens on 23rd October, Kino Zazie, Kleine Ulrichstraße 22 at 9p.m.).

The main Festival weekend is devoted primarily to cinema and begins on Friday 24th October in the Volkspark Sports Hall, right next door to the Festival Centre at Schleifweg 6. For the duration of the festival a mega-sculptural installation known as erikaLand and especially developed for the occasion, will transform the main location into a kind of eastern Disneyland.

After the official opening and a guided tour of the exhibition space to enjoy the results of various pre-Festival workshops – radio features and innovative fashion, for example – there will be a chance to see a rarely shown cinema classic, The Kiss of Mary Pickford (Sergej Komarov, URSS 1927): a fast-paced silent movie about the Hollywood star’s visit to Workers’ Paradise. Peter Gotthardt, renowned composer of the film score for ‘The Legend of Paul and Paula’ will accompany the film on the piano.

Another star guest is American media artist, Amie Siegel, present at what will be the European premiere of her latest film, DDR/DDR (Saturday, 25th October at 4p.m.) The festival will close with yet another international premiere, the screening of Antonio Muntadas and Marshall Reeses’ media collage, Political Advertisement VII, a chronological survey of presidential elections from 1952 to the present, based on media cuttings and clips.

Up to the 26th October the Werkleitz Festival will present circa 42 films and shorts, 6 of which are premières. Some 2000 guests and 25 artists and authors from around the globe are expected to arrive in Halle for the festival. Halle-based artist and curator, Daniel Herrmann and filmmaker and curator Marcel Schwierin, of Berlin, who is also this year’s artistic director, jointly compiled the festival programme. The idea for the festival theme originated with Marcel Schwierin some years ago, when he visited India to present films about America, which were met with rampant anti-Americanism. In presenting artistic positions and debate regarding Germans’ image(s) of America in the run-up to the US presidential elections and in the light of the current global economic crisis, the festival can once again claim to have its finger on the pulse of the times.

The Werkleitz Society was founded exactly 15 years ago in Werkleitz near Tornitz and relocated to Halle (Saale), a hub of the region’s media, in 2004. The Association promotes the production and dissemination of film, art, and media projects. By maintaining active networks, supporting members’ productions, and establishing a variety of new projects, the Werkleitz Society has succeeded in creating a strong profile as a centre of visual arts and media in Saxony-Anhalt, and in obtaining the relevant funding to commit its professional expertise to both regional and international co-operations.


Press Release 2

AMERIKA – Programme Highlights at this year’s WERKLEITZ FESTIVAL 
from 24th – 26th October 2008 in Halle (Saale)

*New Discovery – An American in the GDR*

Sadly deceased in 2005, German Studies expert and teacher Bill Meyers filmed everyday life in the GDR. His ambition was to show his country(wo)men that people behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ were just ordinary, peaceful folk.  Parts of his fragmented oeuvre has now been put together for the Werkleitz Festival, including his films Familie Strassburger, Dresden, an interview from 1986 with the director of the Karl-May-Museum in Radebeul, and an extensive portrait of the GDR’s first Red Indian Club, “Old Manitou”, introduced by its founding father, chemist Johannes Hüttner alias Big Chief Powder Face.


*Preview – Amie Siegel’s new film premieres in Europe *

Amie Siegel’s evening-long film DDR/DDR – completed this year and widely acclaimed following its premiere at the Whitney Biennale in New York – is the portrait of a nation that no longer exists. Using documentary encounters, interviews, re-enactments and archive material, the Berlin/New York-based artist reconstructs both the GDR and the sweeping changes that followed the fall of the Wall. In extensive interviews, she invites exponents of the GDR’s Red Indian culture to take a look at their past.


*The video collage Political Advertisement VII screens in Halle for the very first time *

Hotly topical, this work by New York-based Spanish artist Antoni Muntadas, on which he collaborated with American Marshall Rees.  Begun in 1984, his video archive, Political Advertisement contains selected trailers and clips from presidential election campaigns in the US from the 1950s to the present. The Werkleitz Festival is proud to present the current version of Political Advertisement, including cuts of the very latest campaign trail highlights, before the collage premieres in its final form at MOMA in New York.

*Special Guest – Bjørn Melhus*

Rarely has a German artist produced work so closely bound up with America, as has Bjørn Melhus. Soundtracks of American films are his source material whereby he often takes a synchronised German version and then personally replays a role in playback, i.e. slips into a variety of roles to re-synch each film, from Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz), to Jimmy (James Dean), Janis Joplin or Superman. Media criticism seems implicit in Bjørn Melhus’ method. Somewhat stranger and more provocative however, is the thematic content of his work, namely his use of American media characters as a means of coming to terms with his own childhood. At the Werkleitz Festival Bjørn Melhus will present for the first time a trilogy comprising Weit Weit Weg (1995), Auto Center Drive (2003) and the most recently completed part, The Meadow. Whilst Auto Center Drive plays in the Californian desert, The Meadow was shot in Germany. Together with his bodyguard and a huge American road cruiser an older Jimmy now drives to the forest to look for the characters from his childhood world of film – and also in the meantime from the work cycle of Bjørn Melhus. All the comical, light-hearted elements of Bjørn Melhus’ early works are missing in The Meadow: there remains only an undisguised view of the abyss.

Daniel Herrmann, curator, artist, author (Halle)
Marcel Schwierin, curator, film-maker (Berlin)

Artistic Director
Marcel Schwierin

Anne Sailer, 0177 6871 853, presse@werkleitz.de <mailto:presse@werkleitz.de>




Press Release 1


Werkleitz Festival, 24th – 26th October, Halle/Saale

In the immediate run-up to presidential elections in the USA, the Werkleitz Festival AMERIKA will take a critical look at the USA’s image, which has always provoked fascination and damnation in equal measure. The primary focus of the programme will be former East and West Germany’s different perspectives on America, which were shaped as much by their respective official images of the ‘friend’ or the ‘foe’ as by subversive counter-movements. Yet the USA’s perspective on each Germany will also be addressed. The Festival will be mainly comprised of screenings, supplemented by workshops and panel discussions on the role of cinema. Against the backdrop of the war in Iraq and the first presidential elections to be contested by a Black candidate, the Werkleitz Festival AMERIKA will take a look from a socio-historical perspective at the world’s last remaining superpower. The thematic thrust of the Festival reflects the respective biographies of its two curators: Daniel Herrmann, an artist and curator who grew up in the former Democratic Republic of Germany, and Marcel Schwierin, a filmmaker and curator who grew up in the Federal Republic of Germany.

© Impressum