Festival Forum

International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2020

e-flux and International Short Film Festival Oberhausen present
From My Window / From Your Window
A series of films, conversations, and letters

It has been almost two months since the world entered a lockdown. The situation has made us wary of human contact, while we also crave it; it has turned touch and intimacy into potential weapons, and—as we conform to the social distancing rules—it is also reconfiguring our collectivity and sense of solidarity into something that we never needed to imagine before. What is the social body without a body? We obsess over infection statistics and read official policies and predictions that seem to change every minute. And yet the truth is that we do not know if the world will be the same as it was by the time that we get out of quarantine. It is only human to look for reassurance, because without it, life seems unbearably fragile. But perhaps if we resist the urge to fast forward over this moment and instead live through it together, we will be able to gather the tools that we need to build a future that—at the moment—seems to be up for grabs.

This joint screening series, organized by e-flux and the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, is inspired by a film by Józef Robakowski titled Z mojego okna (From My Window), made in Łodż, Poland over a twenty-year period from 1978 to 1999, as part of a project that Robakowski called My Very Own Cinema: “what I work on when nothing is working out.” The film, shot on 16mm camera, was made by capturing scenes of daily life from the window of the artist’s apartment, located in a district of Łodż ironically nicknamed “Manhattan,” because the cement high-rises there—typical examples of the late socialist modernism of the 1970s—vaguely resemble skyscrapers. Mundane footage of people going to work, housewives carrying bags of produce home, Catholics returning from church during religious holidays, dogs crossing the street, neighbors going to May Day demonstrations—these numerous scenes of everyday life serve as a backdrop for a voiceover in which the artist observes Poland’s profound political transformation during these two decades. The film ends as construction starts on a new hotel, which blocks the view from the window. 

Titled “From My Window / From Your Window,” the series will present a short film every week—all of them freely available online—starting May 1, 2020 with Robakowski’s film. Alongside the films, we have asked artists and filmmakers to contribute a brief video-letter or video statement to this project: a small window into their current situation, and into how they are living through this moment. It is our hope that this collective record of the present will help us imagine a future that we want to live in.

With shorts by Chantal AkermanMarguerite Duras, Claude FaraldoHerz FrankJózef Robakowski, and John Smith; and responses by Coco Fusco, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Emily Jacir, and Nicolas Wackerbarth.

The International Short Film Festival Oberhausen is the oldest and most prestigious festival of its kind, founded in 1954.

This program is part of the series Festival Forum on e-flux Video & Film, presenting collabrations with established and emerging moving-image festivals from around the world.

Covid-19, Intimacy
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