Documentaries by Hito Steyerl

20 / 01 / 2001
Screening / Discussion

History and Identity Constructions - New Approaches in Documentary Cinema
Part 2, series concept organized by Ute Meta Bauer (D)

Die leere Mitte (1998) 16mm on Video, 62min.
Dir. Hito Steyerl

Normalität 1-9, (1999 / 2000) BetaSP, 32min
Dir. Hito Steyerl.

Hito Steyerl, Ute Meta Bauer

Mel Chin / Revival Field
Die leere Mitte, Hito Steyerl


Die leere Mitte ("The Empty Centre") by Hito Steyerl will be screened for the first time in Stuttgart. Normalität 1-3 ("Normalcy 1-3"), the first three sections of Steyerl's continuing series of short documentary films was screened in Filmwinter 2000. Since then, the filmmaker has produced six more films in this series, and this new complete package Normalität 1-9 ("Normalcy 1-9") will be presented for the first time in Stuttgart.

This event is Part II of the series "History and Identity constructions - New Approaches in documentary cinema" which Ute Meta Bauer developed in 2000 for the haus.0 program. Last year's Part I introduced for the first time in Stuttgart, Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (BBC, 1996) with author/director Isaac Julien and co-author / producer Mark Nash. As with that presentation, the series is a co-operation between haus.0 and Stuttgarter Filmwinter. This year, for the Stuttgarter Film winter 2001, Hito Steyerl also selected three programs, called "Framing Globalities", and she will be part of the Filmwinter jury.

Mel Chin / Revival FieldMel Chin / Revival Field
Hito Steyerl, Ute Meta Bauer, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, 01 / 2001

Hito Steyerl lives and works as filmmaker, journalist and author in Berlin. From 1987-1990 she studied cinema and documentary film in Tokyo with Imamura Shohei and Hara Kazuo. In 1990 / 91 she worked as assistant director, production and technical coordinator for Wim Wenders, for Bis ans Ende der Welt. Between 1992-98 Steyerl studied at the University for Film and Television Munich (HFF).

Since 1998 Hito Steyerl has participated with her documentaries at different international filmfestivals, art exhibitions and international symposiums on new media, information technology and cultural theory which deals with questions of migration, interculturalism and globalisation. The discussions, presentations and seminars she has participated in include art and film schools such as HdK Berlin, HfbK Hamburg, Hochschule für angewandte und bildende Künste, Wien, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen München, HdK Basel. In Summer 2000, Steyerl was also a participant of the Internationale Frauenuniversität (ifu) / International Women's University in Hannover, Germany.

Die leere Mitte ("The Empty Centre")

HFF München, 1998, 62min, 16mm
Script / Director / Cut: Hito Steyerl
Camera: Meike Birck, Boris Schafgans, Hito Steyerl

After German reunification, Potsdam Square is rebuilt by transnational companies. In the same process, people are shoved out to the outskirts of the city. They are marginalized by the recentering of Germany 's political and economic power. Die leere Mitte ("The Empty Centre") closely follows the processes of urban restructuring and transition that have taken place in the center of Berlin for the last eight years. In 1990, squatters proclaim a socialist republic on the death strip. Eight years later, the new headquarters of Mercedes Benz arise in the same location.

The film makes use of slow superimpositions to uncover the architectonic and political changes of the last eight years. History is condensed in metaphorical transitions from one frame to the other, from GDR socialism to FRG capitalism, from past to present, but also revealing hidden connections between continents, an unknown genealogy of earlier globalisations. The film focusses on Potsdam square to discover traces of global power shifts, and the simultaneous dismantling and reconstruction of borders.

At the same time, it traces back the history of ostracism and exclusion, especially against immigrants and minorities, which always have served to define the notion of a powerful national center. After the recent German elections, a new chancellor boasts to represent the 'New Center' of public opinion. The film nevertheless strives to highlight the perspective of those who are still excluded from public representation and to give them a voice and a history.

"It is not so much crossing boundaries as frontiers as it is the partial disappearance, dissolution or repositioning of the boundaries themselves. It is the shifting of the boundaries as you try to cross them... Now you begin to see that we are also talking about the fragmentation of boundaries; the partial breakdown, renegotiation, repositioning of boundaries, about the appearance of new boundaries which cut across the old ones." (Stuart Hall)

Normalität 1-9 ("Normalcy 1-9")

discinema, 1999 / 2000, 32min, Beta SP
Script / Director / Cut: Hito Steyerl
Protagonist: Ari Joskowicz
Camera: Hito Steyerl, Marcus Carney
Music: Arnold Schšnberg, op. 42 2/3
Cooperation: Jochen Becker, Boris Buden, Albert Steyerl

"Even the dead will not be safe from the foe if he triumphs.
And this foe has not ceased to triumph."
(Walter Benjamin, 1940)

In 1998 Heinz Galinskis grave is bombed several times. He was the Chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. A chain of antisemitic attacks follows. Normalität 1-9 consists of a series of very short documentaries, which over a period of two years gives account of an atmosphere of antisemitic and racist violence, which is taken as normality in both Germany and Austria.

Text from Hito Steyerl

The (W)hole of Babel, 2000
Haunting Humanism, 2000
Culture and Crime, 2000

Filmography of Hito Steyerl:

Deutschland und das Ich ("Germany and Identity"),
1994, 42 min, 16mm
Awards at the Documentary Film Festival Munich 1995

Land des Lächelns ("Land of smiles")
1996, 2min, Beta SP, short documentary

1997, 4min, Beta SP, short documentary

Die leere Mitte ("The Empty Centre")
1998, 62min, 16mm, documentary

Normalität 1-9
1999 / 2000, 32min, Beta SP, documentary

Current Project:
Europas Traum
Documentary on Europe, 80 min