Dr. Andreas Kötzing

Take a close look at the photo that is to be found on the website of the festival in Leipzig in connection with a very interesting article by Andreas Kötzing – who has written several books on the festival – written because the festival this year celebrates its 60th edition. Amazing! Let me quote his opening of the article:

Unannounced screenings after midnight? Films smuggled over the border in a suitcase? Hotel rooms bugged by the Stasi? Legends about the Leipzig film festival abound. Many of them date back to the GDR days when the festival was still called Internationale Leipziger Dokumentar- und Kurzfilmwoche für Kino und Fernsehen. And as always with stories that have been retold again and again over the years, it’s hard to tell where the truth lies. Impressions of the early days are entering oblivion. Take this famous photo from 1964 for example.

Group photo 1964. First row (f.l.t.r.): Jean Lods, Santiago Alvarez, Basil Wright, Paul Rotha, Frances Flaherty, Richard Leacock, Alberto Cavalcanti, Dolmetscherin, Bert Haanstra; Second row (f.l.t.r.): Andrew Thorndike, Henry Storck, Gianvittorio Baldi, Goverhandas Aggarwal, John Grierson, Ivor Montague, Karl Gass, Bruno Sefranka, Joris Ivens, Walter Heynowski, Annelie Thorndike, Václav Taborski, Chris Marker, Saad Nadim, Gerhard Scheumann, Dušan Vukotic.

Oh yes, this is film history. Looking at the photo makes me think about the great films these nicely dressed gentlemen and a couple of women (Frances Flaherty and Anneli Thorndike) have made. Basil Wright (Night Mail) puts himself in the foreground, Richard Leacock (Primary and hundreds of other films…) talks to Cavalcanti (editor champion of Night Mail and director of the Paris film Rien que les Heures), Bert Haanstra (Glass and all the films about Holland), Henry Storck (Borinage), John Grierson (the Godfather of it all), Joris Ivens (no introduction needed), Heynowski and Scheumann (the GDR political documentarians, remember Congo Müller!), and the master of them all Chris Marker (Sans Soleil…)… One could make a week-long (or more) film historical session from this photo from 1964.

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