Deliver Your News to the World

Panorama 40: A Reflection On the Spirit of the Programme

© Edition Salzgeber
Sto dnei do prikaza (100 Days Before the Command) by Khusein Erkenov
© Edition Salzgeber Sto dnei do prikaza (100 Days Before the Command) by Khusein Erkenov

2019 marks the 40th edition of the Panorama section of the Berlinale. Since its initiation in 1980 under the title Info-Schau, the section has presented films intended to inspire and provoke, and to challenge the audience’s viewing and thinking habits. The film selection is simultaneously an offering and a call to look at cinema differently. On the occasion of the section’s 40th anniversary, Panorama presents a special programme from its 40-year history.

“The selection for our anniversary programme is eclectic - every work stands for a whole slew of other films. Rather than a ‘best of’, our retrospect aims to reflect the soul of the programme: to re-discover works in danger of being forgotten and bring them back into dialogue with current events,” says Wieland Speck, the long-standing head of Panorama, co-founder of the TEDDY AWARD, and curator of the anniversary programme.

“I congratulate Panorama on its 40th birthday, and especially Wieland on his fantastic work in making the section a platform for ambitious independent film,” adds Festival Director Dieter Kosslick.

When the Berlin International Film Festival first came under the direction of Moritz de Hadeln in 1980, he flanked the Competition with a programme section that would have more selective freedom than Competition, as well as allow more radicalness and include the new developments in cinema. The 1970s brought forth a cornucopia of innovations in film. Self-empowered subcultures became a social motor and emancipation theories were implemented with scientific precision. Instead of normativity, its alternatives became desirable - and this was reflected with new film languages and indeed, a new cinematic landscape.

These energetic changes were virtually screaming for commensurate presentation within the festival. De Hadeln instated legendary cinema runner and Forum co-founder Manfred Salzgeber as section head and, in the first year, Salzgeber not only presented works by filmmakers such as Catherine Breillat, John Waters, Atıf Yılmaz, Miklós Jancsó and Helma Sanders-Brahms, but also gave viewers a sense of the section’s future profile with regards to films from Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America, and to the future focus on gay and lesbian cinema.
Queer cinema, or gender focus - since both feminist principles and trans* themes have been part of the section since its inception - was shocking and unheard of in the festival world of that time. In Salzgeber’s second year as head of the section, he selected a short film by Wieland Speck. The ensuing collaboration by the two curators, which also led to the birth of the TEDDY AWARD - the queer film award at the Berlinale - lasted past Wieland Speck’s taking on of the Panorama leadership, starting in 1992, until Manfred Salzgeber’s untimely death of AIDS in 1994.

The annual selections in the years that followed also highlighted themes such as: Countries in focus, international freedom movements, the joy of experiments in aesthetics, the discovery of now well-known filmmakers and thematic impressions, the subject of AIDS as a battle cry in filmmaking, and last but not least, the short format as a tireless breeding ground for talent.

The Panorama Audience Award, presented annually to a fiction and documentary film in the section, also speaks to the programme’s typical interaction with questions and topics of the day. With participation by approximately 30,000 viewers, the Panorama Audience Award will be awarded in 2019 for the 21st time in cooperation with radioeins and rbb television.

Wieland Speck, who curated and shaped Panorama from 1993 - 2017, and his long-standing colleague Andreas Struck have selected nine fiction films and three essay documentaries from a catalogue of more than 1,800 works, as well as eleven short films from a catalogue of over 600 for the Panorama 40 programme.

The 40th anniversary reflection programme and its themes:

Panorama First Move

In February of 1986, star director Lasse Hallström - then relatively unknown outside of Sweden - gained worldwide recognition with the premiere of Mitt liv som hund (My Life as a Dog) at Panorama. Hallström returned to Panorama in 1994 with What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and later presented two films in Competition - Chocolat in 2001 and The Shipping News in 2002. The other two directors in this grouping have similar stories: Tsai Ming-liang returned to Competition and Panorama multiple times after his furious debut Ching shao nien na cha (Rebels of the Neon God, 1992), and Ulrich Köhler’s celebrated first feature Bungalow (2002) paved the way for Schlafkrankheit (Sleeping Sickness) in the 2011 Competition. These three films - in which young rebels struggle for self-determination within the normative bevy of societal expectations - stand for a large catalogue of early works by directing masters of the current day that Manfred Salzgeber and Wieland Speck discovered for an international audience. The list includes Ang Lee, Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar, Małgorzata Szumowska, Kim Ki-duk, Daniel Burman and Teona Strugar Mitevska, to name just a few.

Literary Icons

With Lady Chatterley in 2007, the French director Pascale Ferran succeeded in creating a simultaneously sober and sensitive study on blossoming female sexuality, filled with happiness, liberated from shame, independent of social class distinction. The first film adaptation of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by a female director focuses on D. H. Lawrence’s protagonist and her tempestuous departure from the constraints of Victorian domesticity.
After World War II, when Tom of Finland began drawing his intimate fantasies, he had no way of knowing that he was creating what would become a world-famous oeuvre of subcultural icons that, to this day, continues inspiring gay men to align their appearance with their own identity. Ilppo Pohjola’s essay documentary Daddy and the Muscle Academy (1991) is the only film ever made with the influential artist.

The Battle for Freedom

Stalwart action against human rights abuses, the battle against oppression, and the search for freedom form a common theme in all Panorama programmes. Four seldom-seen films were selected to represent that theme: To organize armed resistance against the apartheid regime in the early 1960s, Nelson Mandela travelled through the country incognito as the chauffeur of a renowned theatre director. The man was Cecil Williams, a dedicated freedom fighter, played by Corin Redgrave in The Man Who Drove With Mandela (1998), Greta Schiller’s memorial to this forgotten hero.

In Russia, homosexuality is still taboo. Stirringly, and with brutal honesty, Russian director Khusein Erkenov tells the story of five young men who don’t survive military service in the Soviet Army in Sto dnei do prikaza (100 Days Before the Command, 1990).
The Making of Monsters (1990) by John Greyson is an experimental musical with a Brecht-like strategy. The enfant terrible of Canadian cinema engages in an aggressive analysis of the murder of Kenneth Zeller, a gay teacher, at the hands of five teenage boys in 1985 in Toronto’s High Park.

In his second short film Das Geräusch rascher Erlösung (The Sound of Fast Relief, 1982), Wieland Speck focuses on what dictated his work as a curator for decades: Courage and imagination as a political opportunity to develop space for alternatives in a heterosexualised world. In one dreamer’s adventures, he divests patriarchal attacks of their stability, causing them to miss their mark.


In 1992, film pioneer Monika Treut completed what was likely the first portrait of a transgender man in the history of cinema. Max is the story of a journey to another sex, of experiences with the male sex hormone testosterone, and of hostility within one’s own community.
That same year, Split – William to Chrysis; Portrait of a Drag Queen was completed by Ellen Fisher Turk and Andrew Weeks: an homage to the charismatic underground star International Chrysis (1951 - 1990), whose strong will united female and male in one body - in the pursuit of absolute harmony.

Obscure Film Worlds

Inexhaustible inventiveness, progressive joy in experimentation, and confidence in unfamiliar aesthetic forms - the film artists in Panorama produce impressive cinematographic innovations. In 2014, the then 21-year-old Chinese director Zhou Hao delivered the unexpected with his magical debut YE (The Night). With steady style and in idiosyncratic, mysterious takes, he depicts three outsiders who negotiate intimacy and play with their feelings beyond the confines of society and gender.

Pirjo Honkasalo was the first woman in Finland to work as director of photography on a feature film. In her exceptional directorial work Mysterion, she taps into the parallel dimension of extreme human experiences: Filmed in 1991, the film’s speechlessness-drenched images tell the story of daily convent life for 160 orthodox nuns who worship earth, water and air in their prayers, while the people in the neighbouring Kohtla-Järve mines subject nature to their will.
Another Finnish selection is Claes Olsson’s short music video M.A. Numminen Sings Wittgenstein (1993): A thought by the eminent philosopher becomes part of a subversive game with audience expectations.

Rather than play with expectations, Jonathan Reiss demolishes them in A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief (1988), a science fiction film that visionarily exposes the depths of machine psychology. Anthropomorphic robots perform in nightmarish subjugation scenarios.

Equally visionary are the surreal imaginings of Gariné Torossian in Girl from Moush (1993). A perceptive, cubistically assembled collage of myths and oral traditions leads to the Canadian filmmaker’s subconscious Armenia.
Film historian Jenni Olson displays incomparable form in Blue Diary (1997), skilfully bringing imagery and language into dialogue to chronicle a one-night stand.

AIDS – Film as a Weapon

In times of newly developed prevention measures, the battle against AIDS is not yet won. The conflict with this illness and its serious consequences has been one of Panorama’s significant concerns from the start. In 1985, during the AIDS crisis’ most devastating time, Arthur J. Bressan Jr. made Buddies, one of the very first films on the subject. The story of the friendship between an AIDS patient and a volunteer was the director’s last film. In the summer of 1987, he died from complications due to the immune disorder which is still rampant today. 33 years after its making, the founding film of Edition Salzgeber will be shown in a restored digital version.

Fear of Disclosure (1989) by Phil Zwickler and David Wojnarowicz is the first film that deals with the difficulties of relationships between HIV positive and HIV negative men. With feverish restlessness, video images zero in on the corrosion of lust by abandonment issues. The film is complemented by the documentary Self-Portrait in 23 Rounds: a Chapter in David Wojnarowicz’s Life 1989-1991 by Marion Scemama. In her film essay, the French photographer and filmmaker reveals never-seen-before material from David Wojnarowicz’s private archive and in collaboration with the KW Institute for Contemporary Art / KUNST-WERKE, refers to the exhibition “David Wojnarowicz: Photography & Film 1978 - 1992”.
Another exhibition in the KW Institute on the subject of AIDS is dedicated to Frank Wagner, the long-standing curator of The New Society for Visual Arts (nGbK): “TIES, TALES AND TRACES. Dedicated to Frank Wagner, Independent Curator (1958 – 2016)”. In 1986, Wagner presented the first large art exhibition on AIDS in Berlin - and in collaboration with Panorama. The exhibitions will take place parallel to the Berlinale and until May 5, 2019.

In the 1990s, gay sexuality was widely directly linked with AIDS. In 1992, Cyril Collard directed his fiction film debut Les nuits fauves (Savage Nights) - based on his eponymous novel - in which he plays a HIV positive bisexual man who plunges himself into the emotional roller coaster of a three-way relationship. He was one of the first artists in France to publicly disclose his infection with HIV. He died of the immune deficiency just one year after completing his film, at age 35.
One rare testimonial of the German ACT UP movement is Jochen Hick’s short film Willkommen im Dom (Welcome to the Dome): A spectacular protest against HIV and AIDS discrimination by the Catholic Church during the German Bishops’ Conference in Fulda in 1991.
The Attendant was made two years later amidst Thatcherism and the AIDS crisis. In artistic, scenic tableaus, British video art star Isaac Julien links Imperialism and queer lust, looking at sexual and racist power dynamics in a cultural and historical light.
Jean Genet Is Dead (1987) also deals with the consequences of AIDS. Constantine Giannaris cross-fades Super 8 shots of isolated men over reflections by the legendary poet, creating visually powerful associations between lust, ostracism and deadly health threat. Giannaris is a two-time TEDDY AWARD winner and presented Dekapentavgoustos (One Day in August) in Competition in 2002.

Panorama 40

USA 1985
by Arthur J. Bressan Jr.
with Geoff Edholm, David Schachter
81 min 2D DCP

Germany 2002
by Ulrich Köhler
with Lennie Burmeister, Devid Striesow, Trine Dyrholm
85 min 2D DCP

Ching shao nien na cha (Rebels of the Neon God)
Taiwan 1992
by Tsai Ming-liang
with Chen Chao-jung, Lee Kang-sheng, Wang Yu-wen, Jen Chang-pin
106 min, 2D DCP

Daddy and the Muscle Academy
Finland 1991
Essay documentary
by Ilppo Pohjola
with Tom of Finland
55 min, 2D DCP

Lady Chatterley
France / Belgium 2006
by Pascale Ferran
with Marina Hands, Jean-Louis Coulloc’h
158 min, 35mm

The Man Who Drove With Mandela
United Kingdom / South Africa / USA / Netherlands 1998
by Greta Schiller
with Corin Redgrave
80 min, 2D DCP

Mitt liv som hund (My Life as a Dog)
Sweden 1985
by Lasse Hallström
with Anton Glanzelius, Tomas von Brömssen, Anki Lidén, Melinda
Kinnaman, Kicki Rundgren
101 min, 35mm

Finland 1991
Essay documentary
by Pirjo Honkasalo
95 min, 2D DCP

Les nuits fauves (Savage Nights)
France / Italy 1992
by Cyril Collard
with Cyril Collard, Romane Bohringer, Carlos López
126 min, 35mm

Self-Portrait in 23 Rounds: a Chapter in David Wojnarowicz’s Life, 1989–1991
France 2018
Essay documentary
by Marion Scemama
with David Wojnarowicz
78 min, QuickTime ProRes

Split – William to Chrysis; Portrait of a Drag Queen
USA 1992
Essay documentary
by Ellen Fisher Turk, Andrew Weeks
with International Chrysis
58 min, Betacam SP

Sto dnei do prikaza (100 Days Before the Command)
Russian Federation 1990
by Khusein Erkenov
with Armen Daigarhanian, Lena Kondulainen, Aleksandr Chislov
67 min, 2D DCP

YE (The Night)
People’s Republic of China 2014
by Zhou Hao
with Zhou Hao, Liu Xiao Xiao, Li Jin Kang
95 min, 2D DCP

Panorama 40 Short Films

The Attendant
United Kingdom 1993
by Isaac Julien
with Thomas Baptiste, Cleo Sylvestre, John Wilson
8 min, 35mm

A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief
USA 1988
by Jonathan Reiss
13 min, 2D DCP

Blue Diary
USA 1997
by Jenni Olson
6 min, 2D DCP

Fear of Disclosure
USA 1989
by Phil Zwickler, David Wojnarowicz
5 min, 16mm

Das Geräusch rascher Erlösung (The Sound of Fast Relief)
Germany 1982
by Wieland Speck
with Reiner Hirsekorn, Andreas Bernhardt, Kurt Hübner, Zazie de Paris
28 min, 2D DCP

Girl from Moush
Canada 1993
by Gariné Torossian
5 min, QuickTime ProRes

Jean Genet Is Dead
United Kingdom 1987
by Constantine Giannaris
with Steve Maclean, Giannis Giannaris, Rafael Peña Cruz, Didier Lestrade
37 min, 16mm

The Making of Monsters
Canada 1990
by John Greyson
with Ray Kahnert, David Gardner, Taborah Johnson, Lee MacDougal
35 min, 2D DCP

M. A. Numminen Sings Wittgenstein
Finland 1993
by Claes Olsson
with Mauri Antero Numminen, Pedro Hietanen
1 min, 2D DCP

Germany 1992
by Monika Treut
with Max Wolf Valerio
27 min, 2D DCP

Willkommen im Dom (Welcome to the Dome)
Germany 1991
by Jochen Hick
14 min, 2D DCP

( Press Release Image: )


This news content was configured by WebWire editorial staff. Linking is permitted.

News Release Distribution and Press Release Distribution Services Provided by WebWire.