2020, Fri, Jul 24

Spell Reel | Memory Also Die

D: Filipa César, Germany/Portugal/France/Guinea-Bissau 2017, 96 min , OV with English subtitles | D: Didi Cheeka, Nigeria 2020, 6 min, silent with English subtitles

Spell Reel, film still | Source: Arsenal

Spell Reel, film still | Source: Arsenal

Spell Reel

D: Filipa César, Germany/Portugal/France/Guinea-Bissau 2017, 96 min , OV with English subtitles

The first image is in black and white, upside down and projected into a black box that then becomes the frame. It now hovers like a time capsule near a man’s face. He looks down, listening in on a female guerrilla fighter and translating her words from Fulani. Filipa César's Spell Reel is the result of a multifaceted research and digitisation project that she initiated in 2011 with Sana na N’Hada and Flora Gomes. Having studied film in Cuba, the two began using the camera to observe the fight for independence in Guinea-Bissau (1963–74). After the decaying visual and audio material was digitised in Berlin, the filmmakers travelled with a mobile cinema to the places where the footage had originally been shot and showed it to audiences for the first time, adding their own commentary. Spell Reel watches an archive at work to produce the present. (Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, abridged)

Memory Also Die, film still | Source: Arsenal

Memory Also Die, film still | Source: Arsenal

Memory Also Die

D: Didi Cheeka, Nigeria 2020, 6 min, silent with English subtitles

Memory Also Die, the first part of a trilogy that focuses on memory as political taboo, comes fifty years after the collective trauma responsible for the death of memory in Nigeria: Biafra. Using appropriated archival film footage layered with personal text, the film takes as its point of departure the old idea that the personal is political – in the sense that collective forgetting is a politically sponsored act. The 1970s – the post-Biafra-war era – were a period of economic boom, marked by a strange mix of optimism, dreams, and ambition on the one hand, and of defeat, disillusionment, and despair on the other. It was also a time of silence, a time of forgetting, a time of migration and exile from memory. Official history had encouraged collective silence, collective forgetting, collective migration from memory.