From My Window / From Your Window

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. The first of these responses will be Emily Jacir’s 24 marzo (dalla mia finestra). It is our hope that this collective record of the present will help us imagine a future that we want to live in.

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

e-flux is an online publishing platform and think tank, founded in 1999.

Chantal Akerman

(1950–2015) is considered to be one of the most important directors of her generation. The author of almost fifty films, she is best known for her pioneering Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), which earned her a central place in the world of avant-garde cinema. From 2013 to 2015, London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts held a complete retrospective of her films. Her final release No Home Movie was premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival.

Marguerite Duras

(1914–1996) was a French novelist, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, and filmmaker. One of the most influential intellectual figures of her generation, she is the author of numerous works, among them the films Hiroshoma mon amour (writer; 1959) and India Song (writer and director; 1975), as well the novel L'Amant (The Lover, 1984) which was awarded the prestigious Prix Goncourt.

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige

are filmmakers and artists, born in Lebanon. Together, they have directed award-winning films that have gained wide international distribution. Their artwork has been shown extensively in solo and group exhibitions in museums, biennials, and art centers around the world. They received the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2017. 

Emily Jacir

is an artist and filmmaker based between Bethlehem and Rome. Her work investigates personal and collective movement through public space and its implications on the physical and social experience of trans-Mediterranean space and time. She is the Founding Director of Dar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art and Research in Bethlehem.

Józef Robakowski

(Poland, 1939) is an experimental filmmaker and photographer. He made his first experimental film in 1962. After 1974, Robakowski also embraced a new medium: video art. Since 1978, Robakowski has run Galeria Wymiany (Exchange Gallery), a private gallery of recent art featuring leaflets, films, videos, objects, photographs, books, posters, documentations, and all kinds of publications, both the artist's own and donated by other artists.

John Smith

was born in Walthamstow, London in 1952 and was an active member of the London Filmmakers Co-op. Inspired in his formative years by conceptual art and structural film, but also fascinated by the immersive power of narrative and the spoken word, he has developed an extensive body of work that subverts the perceived boundaries between documentary and fiction, representation and abstraction. Since 1972 Smith has made over sixty film, video, and installation works that have been shown in independent cinemas, art galleries, and on television around the world and awarded major prizes at many international film festivals.

Nicolas Wackerbarth

is a filmmaker, author, and editor of the film magazine Revolver. His feature and short films were shown at festivals around the world and include Halbe Stunden (2007), Unten Mitte Kinn (2011), Halbschatten (2013), and the highly acclaimed Casting (2017). Wackerbarth teaches at art and film schools (HFBK Hamburg, HFF Munich, DFFB Berlin, School of New Cinema St. Petersburg). He publishes texts about film and regularly hosts the film talk series Revolver Live! at the Volksbühne Berlin.

From My Window / From... 1–7 Contributors
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