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The Future Is Now: Science Fiction Cinema as Audio-visual Blueprint of Histories, Spaces and Sound

20th Internation Bremen Film Conference

The 20th International Bremen Film Conference will take place May 6-10, 2015. The conference is held annually under the cooperation of the University of Bremen | Department 9 and the Community Cinema Bremen | CITY 46 in association with further cooperators.

Under the heading "The Future Is Now: Science Fiction Cinema as Audio-visual Blueprint of Histories, Spaces and Sound," the conference invites film scholars, historicians as well as film makers and cineasts to eye the diverse facets of the film genre.

   | Program Flyer (partly in German)

Keynotes
Vivian Sobchack
| University of California, Los Angeles || Karin Harrasser | Kunstuniversität Linz || Simon Spiegel | Universität Zürich || Sherryl Vint | University of California, Riverside

Panelists
Marc Bonner
| Universität zu Köln || Matthias Grotkopp | Freie Universität Berlin || Tobias Haupts | Freie Universität Berlin || Adam Nadolny | Poznan University of Technology || Christian Pischel | Freie Universität Berlin || Ivo Ritzer | Universität Bayreuth || Lars Schmeink | Universität Hamburg/ HafenCity Universität || Werner Suppanz | Universität Graz || Brian Willems | University of Split || Anke Woschech | Technische Universität Dresden || Rüdiger Zill | Einstein Forum, Potsdam

Hosts
Delia González de Reufels | History of Latin America - Dep. 8 || Winfried Pauleit | Film Studies - Dep. 9 || CITY 46 | Kommunalkino Bremen e.V.

Contact
Louisa Manz
manz[at]city46.de
Tel.: +49 (0)421 449 635 85

Conference Trailer

         | UFOs in the City | Charlotte Erdmann | 2015 | 48''

 

         | The Future is now | Ann-Cathrin Zerlick | 2015 | 40''

 

Timetable

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

7:00pm: F.P.1 Doesn't Respond
Feature film (F.P.1 antwortet nicht, GER 1932, dir. Karl Hartl), German without subtitles, film for panel 2

9:00pm: First Spaceship on Venus
Feature film (Der schweigende Stern, GDR/ PL 1960, dir. Kurt Maetzig), German without subtitles, film for panel 2

Thursday, May 07, 2015

11:00am: Lensbased Media Art Class, UdK Berlin
Presentation (in the film makers' attendance)

2:00pm: Introduction
Winfried Pauleit & Delia González de Reufels | Universität Bremen

2:45pm: Politics
Research Panel 1 (in English)

6:30pm: Predestination
Feature film (AUS 2014, dir. Michael & Peter Spierig), Original version with German subtitles, film for keynote 1

8:30pm: Abject Times. Temporality and the American Science Fiction Film after 9/11
Keynote Vivian Sobchack | University of California, Los Angeles

Friday, May 08, 2015

10:00am: German Science Fiction
Research Panel 2 (in German)

11:40am: Architecture
Research Panel 3 (in English)

2:00pm: Under the Skin
Feature film (UK 2013, dir. Jonathan Glazer), Original version with German subtitles, film for keynote 2

2:00pm: Lensbased Media Art Class, UdK Berlin
Presentation (in the film makers' attendance)

4:00pm: Greeting
Jan Oehlmann | Nordmedia

4:15pm: An der Grenze des Fremden. Naturalisierung und Verfremdung im neueren Science-Fiction-Kino
Keynote Simon Spiegel | Universität Zürich (in German)

6:30pm: Elysium
Feature film (USA/ CDN/ MEX 2013, dir. Neill Blomkamp), Original version with German subtitles, film for keynote 3

8:30pm: The Future as History. Science Fiction Counterfactuals
Keynote Sherryl Vint | University of California, Riverside

10:00pm: The Man Who Fell to Earth
Feature film (UK 1976, dir. Nicolas Roeg), Original version

Saturday, May 09, 2015

10:00am: Cold/ Emotion
Research Panel 4 (in German)

11:40am: Sound/ Body
Research Panel 5 (in English)

2:30pm: Antiviral
Feature film (CDN 2012, dir. Brandon Cronenberg), Original version, film for panel 5

4:30pm: Kontrafaktische Korrekturmaßnahmen. Regierung und Politik des Lebens in der Science Fiction
Keynote Karin Harrassar | Kunstuniversität Linz (in German)

7:00pm: Science | Fiction. Envisioning the Extra-ordinary
Film program, curated by Alejandro Bachmann | Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Vienna

8:30pm: Her
Feature film (USA 2013, dir. Spike Jonze), Original version with German subtitles, film for panel 4

8:30pm: Dandy Dust
Experimental film (A/ UK 1998, dir. Hans Scheirl), Original version, film for keynote 4

10:45pm: Snowpiercer
Feature film (KOR/ USA 2013, dir. Joon-ho Bong), Original version with German subtitles, film for panel 4

Sunday, May 10, 2015 || Stanisław Lem Day

11:00am: First Spaceship on Venus
Feature film (Der schweigende Stern DDR/PL 1960, dir. Kurt Maetzig), German version without subtitles, film for panel 2

11:00am: Dandy Dust
Experimental film (A/ UK 1998, dir. Hans Scheirl), Original version, film for keynote 4

1:30pm: Introduction to Stanisław Lem
Yvonne Pörzgen | Universität Bremen (in German)

2:00pm: Polish Short Films Based on Stories by Stanisław Lem

4:00pm: Test pilota Pirxa
Feature film (Inquest of pilot pirx, PL/ RUS 1978, dir. Marek Piestrak), German version without subtitles

6:00pm: Ijon Tichy: Raumpilot
TV series, four episodes (GER 2007-2011, dir. Oliver Jahn, Dennis Jacobsen, Randa Chahoud), German version without subtitles

8:30pm: Solaris
Feature film (USSR 1972, dir. Andrei Tarkowski), Original version with English subtitles

Keynotes

20th International Bremen Film Conference

Abject Times

Temporality and the American Science Fiction Film after 9/11

Vivian Sobchack | University of California, Los Angeles

The 20th century and the historical period we call "postmodernity" ended in the very brief temporal gap between the pre-millennial irony of an imagined temporal catastrophe that never happened – the "Y2K" global computer meltdown – and the post-millennial trauma of an unimagined temporal catastrophe that, on"9/11," did.

Followed by a non-stop plague of global catastrophes (wars, climate change, financial collapse, pandemics, terrorism), the static moment of "9/11" was temporalized not in postmodern "premonitions of the future" and the "end of this or that" but, rather, as a present of perpetual danger that leaves neither time nor love for the contingent possibilities of an imagined future. Thus, in little over a year, postmodernist exhilaration at the extension of space was replaced by the post-millennial trauma of the contraction of time.

What, then, can contemporary SF film tell us about the "timeshapes"of a lifeworld in which the possibility of a future is either unthinkable or so intolerable in its continuation of the present that time is directed against both itself and us, to become, as Julia Kristeva says of the abject, "dissociated" and/or "shattered into painful territories"?

This presentation will discuss post-millennial American SF films that dramatize the abjection both of time and the subject and thus focus on the circular determinism inherent in time travel, the general resignation inherent to apocalyptic or "end time," and on alternate "histories" of the future that, in various ways and with few exceptions, return us to the past.

Keynote in English.

Thursday, May 07, 2015, 8:30pm, with preceding screening at 6:30pm.

Vivian Sobchack was professor and deputy dean of the faculty of Theater, Film and Television at the University of California, Los Angeles. For her writing Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film (1987), she was awarded by the Pilgrim Career Award of the Science Fiction Research Association, she is the author of writings, such as The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience (1992), Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (2004), and editor of The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television, and the Modern Event (1996) and Meta-Morphing: Visual Transformation in the Culture of Quick Change (2000). In 2012, she was honored by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies for her influential achievements.

At the Limits of the Strange

Naturalization and Alienation in Recent Science Fiction Cinema

Simon Spiegel | University of Zurich

Darko Suvin, pioneer of science fiction research, regards the principle of alienation as the formal framework of science fiction (SF). However, in The Constitution of the Wonderful (Die Konstitution des Wunderbaren, 2007), I argue that this function belongs to naturalization and not alienation. Science fiction makes its wonderful elements such as aliens, spaceships, androids and time machines appear as technologically fundamentally feasible inventions that are compatible with our world. For this purpose science fiction uses a technical aesthetic that gives a semblance of plausibility to the novelty. Alienation is however primarily effective in science fiction within the diegesis–as a collision of apparently incompatible elements and not on a formal level.

In my keynote, I will investigate to what extent this model applies for recent films. Although James Cameron makes an intense effort in Avatar (USA 2009) to present the digitally created blue-skinned Na'vi convincingly, he mostly foregoes the exploitation of their alienating potential. Under the Skin (UK 2013) by Jonathan Glazer embarks on a completely different route. This film combines documentary with experimental film-like scenes thus achieving a highly disturbing effect. This keynote tries to explore the limits of the current science fiction film by using this and further examples.

Keynote in German

Friday, May 08, 2015, 4:15pm, with preceding screening at 2:00pm.

In 2007, Simon Spiegel graduated on the topic of science fiction film after studying German philology and film studies at the University of Zurich. He is currently working as a postdoc at the University's film studies' seminar and is doing research on utopia in non-fictional films within the SNF research project "Alternative Visions of the World: The politically-active documentary feature." Spiegel lives with his wife and two sons in Zurich. Important publications include: "The Great Genre Mystery: The Mystery Genre." In: Zeitschrift für Fantastikforschung 7 (2014): pp. 2–26; Theoretically Fantastic: An Introduction to Tzvetan Todorovs' Theory on Fantastic Literature. Murnau: p.machinery 2010; The Constitution of the Wonderful: On the Poetry of Science Fiction Film. Marburg: Schüren 2007.

The Future as History

Science Fiction Counterfactuals

Sherryl Vint | University of California, Riverside

This lecture explores how science fiction film engages in historical thinking. The genre's futures are always, of course, about the present, explorations of the political, social and cultural moment of their production. As Jameson pointed out in his foundation essay Progress vs. Utopia, the ability to imagine the radically different futures that we might make is essential to keeping the utopian imagination alive. One of the ways science fiction can nurture such utopian sensibilities is through its self-conscious presentation of our world as the history of such futures – utopian and dystopian alike.

Vint explores this political potential of counterfactual science fiction films that consider history in the making from the point of view of an extrapolated "what if" timeline in which key historical events have a different outcome. Peter Waktin's Punishment Park (USA 1971), Lizzie Borden's Born in Flames (USA 1983), Kevin Willmott's Confederate States of America (USA 2004) and Gabriel Range's Death of a President (USA 2006) will be considered in turn. Each of these films blurs SF with documentary, prompting the audience to think through how such mediation similarly shapes our understanding of "actual" history and the role of human choice within it.

Vint observes how these dynamics of contingency and agency are reflected in popular Hollywood depictions of the future, focusing on Neill Blomkamp’s »Elysium« (2013), a film that encourages us to treat our contemporary moment as a similarly significant historical nexus point and thus to make choices now that will short-circuit the logic that its dystopia is inevitably our future.

Keynote in English.

Friday, May 08, 2015, 8:30pm, with preceding screening at 6:30pm.

Sherryl Vint is professor for Science Fiction Media Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She is involved in the direction of the program "Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies". She is author of books, such as Bodies of Tomorrow (2007), Animal Alterity (2010), The Wire (2013) and Science Fiction: A Guide to the Perplexed (2014), as well as co-author of The Routledge Concise History of Science Fiction. As co-editor, she is involved in the journals Science Fiction Film and Television and Science Fiction Studies. Currently, Vint is project lead of the research workshop Alternative Futurisms and working on a book on "The Promissory Imagination: Speculative Futures and Biopolitics".

Contrafaktual Corrections

Government and Policy of Life in Science Fiction

Karin Harrasser | Kunstuniversität Linz

This keynote will investigate a sideline of science fiction that mostly runs side by side and (occasionally) interferes with its commercial variant, but in any case addresses genre-specific elements (scenarios, figure constellations, future reference). Harrasser presents a selection of texts and films coming from artistic avant-gardes that are operating with the science fiction genre to comment and criticize forms of governing life.

Oswald Wiener's The Improvement of Central Europe (1958), Elfriede Jelinek's We're Bait, Baby! (1970) and Hans Scheirl's Dandy Dust (1998) do not only mark distinctive stages of gender and bio-policies, but are also characterized by an astonishing perceptiveness for monitoring and controlling technologies that are now being characterized as "governmental." Here, body and psyche are designed as feedback mechanisms, as cybernetically distributed systems assimilating and processing images, chemicals and other bodies and psyches. Here, they are not presented as balanced systems but as systems permanently threatening to get out of hand and scatter into sexual and violent ecstasies.  

Keynote in German.

Saturday, May 09, 2015, 4:30pm, with following screening at 8:30pm.

Karin Harrasser is professor for cultural studies at the University of the Arts, Linz. After studying history and German philology she graduated with her doctoral thesis on "Computer Histories" at the University of Vienna. At the Humboldt Universität in Berlin she qualified as a professor with a thesis on "Prostheses: Figures of a Damaged Modern Age." In addition to her scientific activities she was involved in different curatorial projects, including NGBK Berlin, Kampnagel Hamburg, TQ Vienna. Together with Elisabeth Timm she publishes the Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. Her most recent publication is Bodies 2.0: On Man's Technological Extensibility (2013).

Research Panels

20th International Bremen Film Conference

Politics

Research Panel 1

The panel "Politics" engages with salient political issues in science fiction, with particular emphasis on the post-apocalyptic and how it shapes our understanding of current as well as future affairs.

Panel in German.

Thursday, May 07, 2015, 2:45-5:05pm

2:45-3:25pm
Science Fiction/ South Africa: Digital Dystopia
   |
Ivo Ritzer | Universität Bayreuth

3:40-4:20pm
Survival of Spaceship Earth: The Imagination of the End of Non-human Nature
   |
Matthias Grotkopp | Freie Universität Berlin

4:25-5:05pm
“The End of the World as We Know It”: Scenarios of the Post-apocalyptic Earth as Diagnosis of the Present
   |
Werner Suppanz | Universität Graz

German Science Fiction

Research Panel 2

In this panel the focus is very much upon science fiction cinema in Germany, where the genre has long sustained, even through turbulent historical periods. Specific case studies include science fiction in the GDR and the figure of the engineer in 1930s German productions.

Panel in German.

Friday, May 08, 2015, 10:00-11:25am

10:00-10:40am
Der Ingenier: Aufstieg und Fall einer (fast) vergessenen Filmfigur des Science Fiction-Kinos der 1930er Jahre
   |
Anke Woschech | Technische Universität Dresden

10:45-11:25am
Geschichten nach der Geschichte: die zeitlichen Faltungen des Science-Fiction-Film im Dienst des Staatssozialismus
   |
Christian Pischel | Freie Universität Berlin

Filme zum Panel 2:

   | Der schweigende Stern (Wednesday, May 06, 2015, 9:00pm + Sunday, May 10, 2015, 11:00am)
   | F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Wednesday, May 06, 2015, 7:00pm)

Architecture

Research Panel 3

The central theme of this panel is the relationship between architecture and science fiction. An often critical aesthetic stable of the genre, architectural constructions of the future nevertheless give us glimpses of the eras and political climates from whence they came, a balance this panel will address with regard to contemporary US film and television examples and Polish science fiction of the 1980s.

Panel in English.

Friday, May 08, 2015, 11:40am-1:05pm

11:40am-12:20pm
Rethinking Retrofuturism: The Representation Of The Future In Spaceship And City Sceneries Using Established Architectural Styles
   | Marc Bonner | Universität zu Köln

12:25-1:05pm
Science Fiction Architecture in Polish Feature Films of the 1980s on the Basis of Seksmisja by Juliusz Machulski
   | Adam Nadolny | Poznan University of Technology

Cold/ Emotion

Research Panel 4

Science Fiction's capacity to defamiliarise the familiar and make things strange has long been a source of discussion with fans of the genre, a phenomenon that this panel seeks to investigate with reference to the the theme of coldness and the use of the human voice. The panel will aim to shed new light on critically acclaimed productions such as Snowpiercer (KOR/ USA 2013, dir. Bong Joon-ho) and Her (USA 2013, dir. Spike Jonze).

Panel in German.

Saturday, May 09, 2015, 10:00-11:25am

10:00-10:40am
Dystopien in Blau und Weiß: Zur Ausformung der Kälte im Science-Fiction-Film
   | Tobias Haupts | Freie Universität Berlin
   | Associated film: Snowpiercer (Saturday, May 09, 2015, 10:45pm)

10:45-11:25am
Den richtigen Ton treffen: Die Stimme des Gefühls in Spike Jonzes Her
   | Rüdiger Zill | Einstein Forum, Potsdam
   | Associated film: Her (Saturday, May 09, 2015, 8:30pm)

Sound/ Body

Research Panel 5

This panel traces the relationship between technological advancements as flagged by science fiction and their correlation in the real world. Science now enables us to record electromagnetic sounds in space, thus challenging prior conceptions of space as somewhere where "no-one can hear you scream," while biotechnological progress meanwhile enables new posthuman categories of celebrity embodiment that challenge our notions of human existence. These developments and more will be discussed with reference to films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, USA/ UK 1968) and Antiviral (Brandon Cronenberg, CDN 2012).

Panel in English.

Saturday, May 09, 2015, 11:40am-1:05pm

11:40am-12:20pm
The Sounds of Space
   | Brian Willems | University of Split

12:25-1:05pm
Have Your Star and Eat It too: Consumption and Celebrity in Cronenberg‘s Antiviral
   | Lars Schmeink | Universität Hamburg/ HafenCity Universität

Film Program

Lensbased media arts Class, UdK Berlin

Presentation

The class of lensbased media art of the UdK Berlin is committed to discussing the material, political, social implications of aesthetic form today and in the future. Discussions often revolve around the various implications of new media and their formal ressources. The present program features videos and one performance oscillating between social- and science-fiction. A detailed plan of the program is available at the cinema during the symposium.

Contributing artists:

Tekla Aslanishvili | Liesel Burisch | Woori Cho | Joshua Crowle | Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze | Adam Kaplan | Boaz Levin | Mikk Madisson | Tamar Magradze | Maximilian Schmoetzer | Kristof Trakal | Miloš Trakilović | Till Wittwer

Organization: Klaas Dierks. Subject to change.

   | Thursday, May 07, 2015, 11:00am
   | Cinema 1

Lensbased media arts Class, UdK Berlin

Presentation

The class of lensbased media art of the UdK Berlin is committed to discussing the material, political, social implications of aesthetic form today and in the future. Discussions often revolve around the various implications of new media and their formal ressources. The present program features videos and one performance oscillating between social- and science-fiction. A detailed plan of the program is available at the cinema during the symposium.

Contributing artists:

Feliks Aleksander | Tekla Aslanishvili | Liesel Burisch | Musquiqui Chihying | Woori Cho | Joshua Crowle | Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze | Adam Kaplan | Boaz Levin, | Mikk Madisson | Tamar Magradze | Kamil Markiewicz | Maximilian Schmoetzer | Neda Saeedi | Kristof Trakal | Miloš Trakilović

Organization: Klaas Dierks. Subject to change.

   | Thursday, May 08, 2015, 2:00pm
   | Cinema 2

Stanisław Lem Day

Stanisław Lem (1921-2006), Poland's best-known science fiction writer, has also gained international acclaim as philosopher and poeta doctus. In his novels and short stories, Lem puts the emphasis on "science" and lets "fiction" come second. It was Lem's expressed intention to depict a future whose probability was based on the technological developments of his time. As a consequence of filmmakers usually preferring fiction over science, Lem did not agree with the film versions of his texts. Nevertheless, during Lem's life time and after his death, directors from Poland, Russia, the USA, Israel and other countries have accepted the challenge to fill Lem's story lines with pictures and sounds.

Polish Short Films Based on Stories by Stanisław Lem

Original with German subtitles:
   | Wycieczka w kosmos (A Journey into the Cosmos) | Krzysztof Debowski | PL 1961 | 11 Min.
   | Przyjaciel (The Friend) | Marek Nowicki, Jerzy Stawicki | PL 1965 | 18 Min.

Original with English subtitles:
   | Przekladaniec (Roly Poly) | Andrzej Wajda | PL 1968 | 35 Min.
   | Maska (Mask) | Stephen Quay | PL 2010 | 23 Min.

   | Sunday, May 10, 2015, 2:00pm
   |
Cinema 1