Anthology Film Archives

A TRIBUTE TO DORE O. (1946-2022)

June 17 – June 19

This screening series honors the work and legacy of one of Germany’s most influential and pioneering experimental filmmakers, who tragically passed away in early March 2022. In the 1960s, the painter Dore O. became the first woman to work consistently and independently in German experimental cinema. A co-founder of the Hamburg Co-op, modeled after its New York predecessor, she was actively involved in exploring new forms of cinema with her then-husband, Werner Nekes. Radically following her own path, she laid the groundwork for a later generation of notably female filmmakers by bridging the realms of the personal and the aesthetic while defying prevailing theories, both structural and feminist – a refusal that rendered her work hard to categorize, ultimately pushing it to the margins where it received little to no critical attention.

For almost 35 years, despite an overall decline in experimental film in the 1970s, Dore O. carried on, meticulously crafting a filmic reality that is captured and experienced foremost as a sensuous and evocative flow of multilayered images and sounds, which induce a state in between hypnosis and lucidity. Dore O. transformed painterly concepts into a distinctly cinematic language, using complex in-camera editing and rephotographing techniques, rhythmic alternations between depth and surface, stillness and motion, to “create new architectures of old forms” (Dore O.). Going beyond the strictly personal or formalistic, her work thwarts those categories in its highly enigmatic and elusive poetics, by conveying new modes of introspection, states of consciousness, and vaguely evoked stories from inside the layers of celluloid film.

By the 2000s, nearly her entire oeuvre from the 1960s and 70s had become inaccessible due to the poor condition of the remaining film prints. These were digitally restored in recent years at the Deutsche Kinemathek in collaboration with Dore O. (Programs 1 and 2 below). In Program 3, a selection of her later films will be shown on 16mm.

This screening series marks the announcement of the publication “Figures of Absence. The Films of Dore O.” (ed. Masha Matzke), which will be released in English by archivebooks in late 2022, and will feature new contributions from, among others, Robin Blaetz, Sarah Keller, Lucy Reynolds, and Maureen Turim.

The series is co-presented with the German Film Office, an initiative of the Goethe-Institut and German Films; special thanks to Sara Stevenson. The screenings will be presented in person by Masha Matzke, film restorer and scholar, Deutsche Kinemathek Berlin.

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