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Filmmaking Against All Odds? – Cinema, Criticism, Climate Crisis


Conference at the Akademie der Künste on Wednesday, February 14th, starting 7pm

Film program and discussion at Hackesche Höfe Kino on Friday, February 16, starting 8pm

In the face of man-made climate change, today’s societies urgently need to transform themselves – and the world of film and festivals is no exception. To open Berlin Critics’ Week 2024, we will be debating what sort of influence filmmakers, critics and activists can (or should) have on the requisite transformation process. How can artistic freedom be made compatible with the imperatives of sustainability? How industrial should the cinema of the future be? What routines and automatisms are proving debilitating to the film sector? And which political interventions seem necessary or meaningful?

On February 14, we will address these topics in a panel discussion involving film producers Ada SolomonFee Buck and Cassandre Warnauts, accompanied by talks by the filmmaker and cultural theorist Manthia Diawara and by the art historian and cultural critic T. J. Demos. On February 16 there will be another event, where we will present a film program curated by Demos on the theme of artistic responses to ecological issues. On February 17, he will also be leading an in-depth workshop for film professionals on the role of film as a mode of critical intervention and on artistic methods that respond to the climate crisis. 


“Germany decides not to phase out coal until 2038 – and it does not even cause a week-long scandal. The EU commits to a huge financial package during Corona – and journalists almost exclusively report on it as a historic achievement. For days, researchers publicly debate whether or not the Greenland ice sheet is melting inexorably – and, in most cases, it makes for nothing more than a news announcement. From all this, it is clear that even many journalists do not seem to have realized how serious the climate crisis is, and what a historically decisive juncture we are currently at.”

Three years ago, in an open letter to the German press, journalist Sara Schurmann (Netzwerk Klimajournalismus Deutschland) called for climate justice to be made into an explicit topic for socio-political reporting. Since then, the situation has become even more acute. Climate change still compels all areas of society to (self-)critically scrutinize their respective relationships with consumption, production and growth. Over the past few years, the accumulated impact of public conversations, political initiatives and persistent activism from individual film professionals have helped prompt a paradigm shift on the part of companies, broadcasters and funding institutions. Meanwhile, a number of models for potential solutions have been developed for the film industry. 

We want to take stock of developments across a range of different countries so far – and to shed light on the production realities of companies and producers whose films are shaping the international festival scene. Our timely questions about climate-friendly cinema will not only be posed to the film industry; we will also be posing them to ourselves, as film critics. How does film culture need to change in light of ever-depleting planetary resources? Does there exist some kind of “green cinema” beyond greenwashing? Are festivals and film critics – with their focus on current new productions – propagating a pressure to innovate that ultimately damages the climate? Should politicians show more resolve in supporting smaller-scale films which don’t affect the planet so severely? Filmmakers and film critics alike need to adopt a position on these questions – and to take responsibility for their work in new ways. 

With our thematic focus Filmmaking Against All Odds? – Cinema, Criticism, Climate Crisis, we hope to inject the perspectives of climate activists and climate movement pioneers into film culture, thereby thoroughly questioning the present and future of cinema with our guests. In doing so, we hope to emphasize that public discussions on this topic remain vital. We are pleased to be joined by the art historian and cultural critic T. J. Demos, a professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) who also founded and directs the Center for Creative Ecologies based at UCSC; Demos’s work is specifically engaged with the interfaces between contemporary art, radical politics and political ecology.

On February 14, two lectures from T. J. Demos and Manthia Diawara will open a debate at the Akademie der Künste (Pariser Platz). Together with the producers Ada Solomon (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, Toni Erdmann), Fee Buck (Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush, High Life) and Cassandre Warnauts (Titane, Girl, Atlantique) we will be discussing topics like how the climate crisis influences the production of films today, what personal standards these producers are setting for their work in the wake of recent developments, and how they envisage the future of film production. 

On February 16, at the Hackesche Höfe Kino, a film program curated by T. J. Demos will provide a further opportunity for discussion. Together with international guests, we will hold a dialogue about how the art of film can make its way against the background of climate crisis, geopolitical developments, and increasingly digitized forms of distribution – and about what kinds of images might result from this process.

The events at a glance:

February 14, 2024, 7pm
Akademie der Künste, Pariser Platz 4, 10117 Berlin
Discussion, amongst others with Ada Solomon, Fee Buck, Cassandre Warnauts
Keynotes from T. J. Demos and Manthia Diawara

February 16, 2024, 8pm
Hackesche Höfe Kino, Rosenthaler Straße 40-41, 10178 Berlin
Film program followed by a debate
Guests: tbc



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Chatelin Bruno

Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
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