Close Up

7 December 2017: Peter Nestler Shorts


Described by Jean-Marie Straub as the most important filmmaker in Germany since the war, Peter Nestler has since the early 1960s carved out his own unique territory in the documentary landscape, building up a body of work that is at once deeply political, while personally nuanced and poetic. He has the ability to unobtrusively record exactly what he sees without manipulating the viewer into having any preconceptions about the reality being recorded.

His films share a care for documenting the process of work, the inevitable changes time brings to a place, a locality, the digging up of buried histories. All five shorts in the programme reflect these concerns, whether it be showing us the post-war industrial changes in a Swabian village, or tracking the meandering flow of the Danube, diving into its layers of history and returning to the surface in the process.

By the Dike Sluice
Peter Nestler
1962 | 13 min | B/W | DCP

Nestler’s first film is an odd portrait of a seaside town, its inhabitants and its industry, told through the imagined voiceover of the town’s sluice. 

Peter Nestler
1964 | 14 min | B/W | DCP

An unsentimental portrait of a city in the Ruhr region set to music. Streets, faces, buildings and neighbourhoods old and new, the factory towers and the pubs pass by fleetingly captured by Nestler’s lens, a document of what is no longer here. 

Peter Nestler
1964 | 36 min | B/W | DCP

Nestler traces the changes in a Swabian town during 1960s as a result of post-war industrialization. Slowly an image of a community emerges that becomes an encapsulation of Germany as a whole, with Nestler openly documenting the town’s Nazi past – a feat rarely done in those days.

A Working Men’s Club in Sheffield
Peter Nestler
1965 | 41 min | B/W | Digital

The Dial House Working Men’s Club in Sheffield is at the centre of this wonderful ode to the working class, with Nestler capturing both moments of work, and leisure; a time-capsule portrait of the northern city

Up the Danube
Peter Nestler & Zsóka Nestler
1968 | 28 min | Colour | DCP

Peter and Zsóka Nestler travel up and down the Danube on a steamboat unearthing layered narratives of the ancient and the recent past creating a beautifully poetic document of filmed archaeology.