Close Up

3 November 2019: Jürgen Böttcher: A Deeper Dialetic

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Image credit: Rangierer©DEFA-Stiftung/Thomas Plenert

Stars, Jürgen Böttcher, 1963, 20 min
In the Lohm Valley (Im Lohmgrund), Jürgen Böttcher, 1976 - 1977, 27 min
The Kitchen (Die Küche), Jürgen Böttcher, 1986, 43 min
Shunters (Rangierer), Jürgen Böttcher, 1984, b/w, 35mm, 22 min

All in German with English subtitles. Total Runtime: ca 88 min

"Programme 2 begins with Stars (1963), a group portrait of women working in a light-bulb factory in which Böttcher’s film title contains an implicit critique of the entertainment industry of the West. Böttcher wrote in an essay dedicated to Stars…"l am interested above all in a sort of synthesis of personal and social documentation. I would like to realize films that, together with social truth, radiate special individual impulses, as we know from living – honest autobiographies."

In Lohmgrund, a portrait of his old friend, the sculptor Peter Makolies, one of the three protagonists in ‘Three of Many’. This marks a new phase in Böttcher’s oeuvre with his first of many collaborations working with cameraman Thomas Plenert, and returning to the origins of his own artistic career.

The Kitchen, as with Stars, Böttcher’s portrayal of women in their work place has the knack of juxtaposing the intensity of their work alongside their humour and relaxed relationship with him. This was to be his last study of the GDR work-industry-world and closes a circle of work that began with Blast Furnace Builders in 1962.

The programme ends with a 35mm print of Shunters, considered a poetic masterpiece. With no thesis, no didactic purpose which the material has to submit itself to; only the truth of the situation that emerges from the material itself, the original sounds come together to form a soundtrack of concrete music. The intuitive teamwork between direction/Böttcher and camera/Plenert is transmitted directly to the viewer producing unforgettable images and sequences." – Diana Mavroleon

This programme concludes with a post-film discussion and Q&A with Diana Mavroleon together with Martin Brady and Franziska Nössig.


Part of the Goethe-Institut's season on Jürgen Böttcher, presented in collaboration with Close-Up and King's College London.

Programme notes written by Diana Mavroleon, London 2019. Programme notes references: Claus Loser.

Diana Mavroleon works with experimental and documentary film; a programme maker for Resonance Radio, a founder member of European Media Arts Network and a correspondent for S.E. Asia. She is currently researching a documentary feature on: "The impact of globalization on the hereditary musicians of the Thar Desert in Western Rajasthan". Diana is also a qualified bio-dynamic gardener and landscape/garden designer.

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 (The Language of the Third Reich) and works as a freelance interpreter and visual artist.

Franziska Nössig teaches in the German Department at King's College London, where she recently completed her PhD on Jürgen Böttcher. She has published on his experimental trilogy Transformations and has presented his films at the German Embassy London and the Weimar Art Society

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