Close Up

3 November 2019: Four Parts of a Folding Screen


Based on documents found in Berlin archives, Four Parts of a Folding Screen explores exclusion, statelessness and the legalised theft and sale of everyday family possessions by the National Socialist regime. We're pleased to welcome Anthea Kennedy and Ian Wiblin to present their film alongside Peter Todd's a spoon, and Martin Brady will be in conversation with the filmmakers following the screening.

Four Parts of a Folding Screen
Anthea Kennedy & Ian Wiblin, 2018, 83 min

Shot in Berlin, Four Parts of a Folding Screen is a film that explores the space between documentary and fiction. Its images combine to construct a contemporary surface of the city. The film’s subject concerns Germany’s past – of National Socialism. Under the oppression of this regime, a woman’s husband is forced to leave. The house must be sold and possessions put into storage. So begins a process orchestrated by the state to deprive the woman of her citizenship and to guarantee the legalised acquisition of her family’s belongings. These malignant acts of bureaucracy raise money for the Nazis and fund their war.

The camera maps the addresses of the auction’s successful bidders. This organised theft creates a diaspora of household objects, scattered for the most part – the camera discovers – amongst buildings that no longer exist. An elderly woman asks the film-makers: “Are you working for Google Earth?”, and tells of seeing the whole of Frankfurter Allee destroyed in a single night by aerial bombing – such poignant juxtapositions of past and present spark throughout the film. Still-life studies of household objects break the flow of inevitable petty events.

Blown-up sections of old family photographs bear perhaps the merest traces of personal things auctioned and lost. But the film is not a quest – that these objects might be found is never inferred. Instead, the film is a recounting or retelling of a brutalising process. The occasional glimpses of archive documents matter-offactly underscore the mundane nature of day-to-day office work, whilst signalling its cruel consequences. Such imagery also adds to the film’s varied visual texture – a texture clashed and punctuated by voice, sound and musical fragments. As the camera probes the secrets of ordinary spaces, streets and buildings around the city of Berlin, semblances of a person and a history begin to emerge and coalesce.

a spoon
Peter Todd, 2019, 2'30 min, Silent

Commissioned by Margaret Tait 100. "Images gathered into a film. Images from earlier works and some new. I have always found spoons amazing things. Often beautiful, and ever useful. So I have made a film for them. Thank you spoons." – Peter Todd

Presented in parallel to our retrospectives on Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Jürgen Böttcher.

Martin Brady is Emeritus Reader in German and Film Studies at King’s College London. He has published on European film, music, literature, disability, architecture, and the visual arts. He translated Victor Klemperer’s LTI: Lingua Tertii Imperii (The Language of the Third Reich) and also works as a freelance interpreter and visual artist.