Hartmut Bitomsky. Reichsautobahn / Das Kino und der Wind und die Photographie

July 6th, 2012

Hartmut Bitomsky, »Reichsautobahn«, Germany 1985, 92 min.

»Das Kino und der Wind und die Photographie«, Germany 1991, 56 min.

Since the 1970s, Hartmut Bitomsky has directed more than forty films and been active as a writer. In his meticulously researched documentary compilation films, which are his main focus, Bitomsky provides a new thematic and formal frame for found archival material and excerpts from older films by supplementing them with his own filmed sequences and off-screen commentaries. Employing this method, he not only lays out different historical perspectives but also reflects on the origin and message of filmic images, edits and narrations as factors that constitute reality in cinema. In this manner, he raises questions as to the status of the medium in its social context: »I believe that a documentary should not expose reality, it must articulate and structure reality.« (Hartmut Bitomsky)

Bitomsky made the documentary film »Reichsautobahn« as the second part of his Germany trilogy. Conducting research for the first part, »Deutschlandbilder« (1983), the director viewed a number of National Socialist culture films, some of which were produced to promote the large-scale transportation project »Reichsautobahn«. The homonymous film was edited from the existing material that unmasks the National Socialists’ strategy. Bitomsky was granted the Golden Grimme Award for this film in 1987.

»Das Kino und der Wind und die Photographie« is a film about films and film theory. Bitomsky analyses excerpts from documentaries, uses citations and breaks with the objectivity of the filmmaker by appearing as a commentator in front of the camera. Bitomsky grasps his film as a manifesto against snapshot photography and as a call for a conscious production of images that takes into consideration both the relationship between war and cinema and the productions of other film directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and Robert Bresson.

The film is presented in cooperation with the seminar »Conceptual Film – from Marcel Broodthaers to Harun Farocki«, which discusses questions of conceptuality in film and video. The seminar is held by Stefan Roemer, who interviewed Bitomsky for his essay film »Conceptual Paradise« (2005), and Ulf Wuggenig. The presentation is integrated in the video archive project »Conceptual Paradise« being jointly realised by Stefan Roemer, the Kunstraum and the Institute for Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media (Martin Warnke) of the Leuphana University Lüneburg.

The following publications, among others, give insights into the work of Bitomsky: »Hartmut Bitomsky, Geliehene Landschaften. Zur Praxis und Theorie des Dokumentarfilms«, ed. by Marius Babias / Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin 2012, and Hartmut Bitomsky, »Kinowahrheit«, ed. by Ilka Schaarschmidt / Dokumentarfilminitiative im Filmbüro NRW, Berlin 2003.