Nordic Film Focus

Dirty young loose

Director: Lene Berg

About film:
Stalin by Picasso or Portrait of Woman with Moustache deals with the so-called ‘Portrait Scandal’, or `L´affaire du Portrait`, which later has been named the first consequence of Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953. It centers around two great, short men and a drawing that created strong reactions. On one level, it is about how two icons from the 20th Century, Stalin and Picasso, once were perceived and how much their public personas have changed since then. On another level, it is about art and artistic freedom, or un-freedom, and of ways of reading and using images, particularly images of so-called great men. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this anecdote from the beginning of the Cold War, is how one simple charcoal drawing can initiate so many feelings, discussions and intrigues as this one did.

Gomp

Director: Lene Berg

About film:
"GOMPEN…is a film from a staged hearing focusing on the surveillance of dissidents during the Cold War in Norway. Based upon extensive research and produced as a live event, it is simultaneously a documentary, a work of fiction and a piece of political theatre. From a witness-stand facing a panel of citizens, and in the presence of a small audience, a number of individuals come forward to speak about their personal experience of being surveilled or being agents of surveillance. Many of the witnesses appear under their own names; others are actors representing witnesses who could not attend. Through its unique set of characters and its use of associative montage of different stories and testimony, Gomp: Tales of surveillance in Norway 1948-1989 depicts various aspects and consequences of being surveilled as well as a complex image of Post War Norway. - There was never a public televised hearing held about the illegal surveillance of dissidents in Norway during the Cold War. So I staged it. GOMPEN… is a film based on personal accounts featuring individuals and actors, the surveilled and the spies combined with archival material and scripted texts. One question: Where does reality end and fiction start when one describes political and historical events? Lene Berg, Oslo 2014 "

Shaving the baroness

Director: Lene Berg

About film:
Re-enactment of the 1921 late-Dada/pre-Surrealist short Elsa, Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven, Shaving Her Pubic Hair by Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp and the star herself, a work that maybe never existed in the first place. But the concept is simple enough and the point still worth making.

Stalin by Picasso

Director: Lene Berg

About film:
Stalin by Picasso or Portrait of Woman with Moustache deals with the so-called ‘Portrait Scandal’, or `L´affaire du Portrait`, which later has been named the first consequence of Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953. It centers around two great, short men and a drawing that created strong reactions. On one level, it is about how two icons from the 20th Century, Stalin and Picasso, once were perceived and how much their public personas have changed since then. On another level, it is about art and artistic freedom, or un-freedom, and of ways of reading and using images, particularly images of so-called great men. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this anecdote from the beginning of the Cold War, is how one simple charcoal drawing can initiate so many feelings, discussions and intrigues as this one did.

The man in the background

Director: Lene Berg, from the catalogue Parapolitics, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin 2017

About film:
In the film The Man in the Background Berg investigates the fate and role of Michael Josselson, director of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, in the Cold War era. The video material consists of Josselson's private super-8 footage from a vacation in 1958 and interviews with his widow Diana, nearly 50 years later. In 1966, the New York Times revealed that the Congress for Cultural Freedom had received funding from the CIA, and thus it was exposed that the Josselsons had lied to everyone in their surroundings for nearly two decades. The revelation changed the life of the Josselsons radically and painfully. - Working on The Man in the Background, I realized that I didn’t know a dramatic form that could tell the story of Michael Josselson and the CCF. I was looking for a narrative that could both convey and preserve the ambiguity, the political and personal dilemmas of their story (and of the Cold War). Inspired by Raymond Queneau’s novel Exercices de style (1947), I decided to present the exact same footage seven times with different voice-overs, and then “confront” each chapter with a part of the interviews I had made with Michael Josselson’s widow, Diana. I chose headlines for the chapters, which are not included in the film, but inspired me when I wrote them. If I remember correctly, the headlines were: Documentary, Love Story, Biography, Thriller, Theater/Plot, Farce, Absurd/Poetic.

The Weimar Conspiracy

Director: Lene Berg

About film:
THE WEIMAR CONSPIRACY (2007). In this amusing and inquisitive piece, Berg takes what could be the record of any tourist of a string of visits to the houses of illustrious men and monuments of Weimar, providingit with a structure and adding a spoken narration. Weimar, let's not forget, is a fundamental spot in German history. It was home to writers such as Goethe and Schiller, philosophers such as Nietzsche, and a hot spot during the Nazi years. The voice-over shows us a visitor who ignores all that past while roaming through a theatrical place emptied of content to serve tourism. The result is two-faced analysis: on one hand, the validity of the legacy of this historical and cultural heritage, and on the other, the banality in this way of preserving and spreading it. - Elena Duque, Sevilla European Filmfestival 2019

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