It is not all clear to me that the past actually gives lessons. Like Walter Benjamin, though, I believe that there are moments when a particular event or struggle enters vividly into the figurability of the present ╱ Kristin Ross
An image haunted Europe in the 1960s and 1970s—the image of militant cinema. It was a form of cinema that lent its backing to the radical movements shaking the continent—and the whole world—from the national liberation struggles of the Global South to the paving stones and barricades that made the great western metropolises tremble; from workers occupying factories to women fighting because ‘the personal is political’. During 2016, Tabakalera will host six sessions of screenings exploring the transfers between the archive of militant cinema of the Long 1960s and contemporary film and art practice. What happens when we watch a film from that time? How does the image of the past enter vividly into the figurability of our present? How do contemporary visual creators dialogue with the legacy, strategies, dreams, and failures of militant cinema?
The programme for the screenings will be developed throughout the year around different topics, defined by progress of the research carried out as part of Europe, future past. Each session will include guest presenters who will discuss the materials programmed, opening a critical conversation.
Berwick Street Collective / 1975 / UK / 90’ / Spanish subtitles / DCP
“There are women here who have spent almost 20 years working. But they don’t see us. They never see us.” That’s what one of the cleaners in Nightcleaners says to the camera. This film, an indispensable reference in feminist collective films, follows the efforts to organize a group of cleaners at a London office into a trade union. Through different cinematic strategies, members of the Berwick Street Collective question the tensions between workers, employers and unions. But above all they force our attention: to show the exploitation and precariousness of female labour.
Elena Oroz holds a PhD in Media and she currently is adjunct professor at the University Carlos III and the Camilo José Cela University in Madrid. Co-founder and co-director of the online journal Blogs&Docs (from 2006 to March 2012). Co-editor of the volumes Lo personal es político. Documental y feminismo (with Sophie Mayer) and La risa oblicua (with Gonzalo de Pedro). She has been member of the selection committee at Festival Punto de Vista and she currently is at Festival Margenes.org.
Chris Marker & Mario Marret / 1967-1968, France / 45′ / Spanish subtitles / DCP
In 1967, a group of workers invites the filmmakers Chris Marker and Mario Marret to record the strike and occupation of the Rhodiacéta factory in Besançon. A series of militant portraits, workers who speak for the first time: “we are fighting for the right to culture in the same way that we fight for bread or housing.” A foreshadowing of the revolutionary outbreak of 1968, the statement that no labour claim will make sense if it does not question the organisation of capitalist society as a whole. +info: 
Antoine Bonfanti & Pol Cèbe / 1969 / France / 13′ / Spanish subtitles / Audio only
A recorder records the workers’ reactions after seeing À bientôt j’espère for the first time. The filmmakers face fierce criticism: some of them do not recognise themselves in the film and doubt the directors’ ability to portray them. Aware of his own limits and faced with “the indignity of speaking for others,” Chris Marker encourages the workers to take control of the means of (film) production. This is the birth of the Medvedkine groups of worker filmmakers. +info: 
Mehdi Ahoudig & Anna Salzberg / 2015 / France / 20’ / Spanish subtitles / DCP
We hear a group of precarious workers on the outskirts of Paris during their first strike. It is a journey through the streets they wanted to walk along on their way to Neuilly, where the head office of the company that exploits them is located. A journey through the tensions between invisible young people and the city that turns its back on them. A journey through a struggle that learns to organise itself through the vocabulary of local neighbourhoods. A journey through the troubled relationship between what we see and what we hear. +info: 
David Cortés Santamarta is an art historian and music critic. He has been Theory and Art History professor at the European University of Madrid (2006-2015). Curator of the programmes Samuel Beckett: obra para cine y televisión in MNCARS and Con y contra el cine. En torno a Mayo del 68, in the Reales Atarazanas of Seville, French Institute of Barcelona, and the MNCARS. He has edited the volumes George Benjamin (OCNE, 2005) and Sofia Gubaidulina (OCNE, 2009), co-edited the catalogues Samuel Beckett (MNCARS, 2006), and Con y contra el cine (UNIA-SECC-Fundació Tàpies, 2008). His essays have been included in collective volumes such as Hans Werner Henze. Komponist der Gegenwart (Henschel, 2006), Henze. Phaedra. Ein Werkbuch (Wagenbach, 2007) y Música y cine (OCNE, 2010). He has published in the Royal Theater of Madrid, Semperoper at Dresde, Spanish National Orchestra, and in different newspapers and specialized journals.
Amador Fernández-Savater (firstname.lastname@example.org) goes back and forth between critical thought and political action, always looking for their encounter. He is the director of Acuarela Libros, has directed during many years the journal Archipielago, and has actively participated in many grassroots collective movements in Madrid (student movement, antiglobalization, copyleft, movement against the Irak war, V de Vivienda, May 15 movement). He has authored Filosofía y acción (Editorial Límite, 1999) and co-authored Red Ciudadana tras el 11-M; cuando el sufrimiento no impide pensar ni actuar (Acuarela Libros, 2008), Con y contra el cine; en torno a Mayo del 68 (UNIA, 2008), and Fuera de lugar. Conversaciones entre crisis y transformación (Acuarela Libros, 2013). He is currently co-responsible for the blog “Interferencias” in eldiario.es
Santiago Álvarez / Cuba / 1965 / 6’ / Original Version with Spanish Subtitles / DCP
A revolutionary symphony by Santiago Álvarez, “the Cuban Dziga Vertov”. The energetic voice of Lena Horne. Explosions of images. Photographs that come to life when edited together at a frenetic pace. These are scenes of racist repression in the US and the mobilisation of the Afro-American population to defend their civil rights. And Lena Horne singing that words are not enough. The time has come for action. Now! Now! Now! +info: 
Grupo Cine Liberación / Argentina / 1968 / fragment 7’ / Original Spanish language version / DCP
La hora de los hornos begins with the image of a flame being lit. And this film certainly lit the screens of the entire planet, like the fire of some revolutionary “third cinema” that also ended up firing the imagination of an entire generation of film-makers and activists. In this session, we shall examine the prologue to this incendiary work. And once again we shall see the unmistakeable editing of Santiago Álvarez, once again creating a heart-stopping mosaic of words and pictures: a call to anti-imperialist action that was to forever mark the history of militant cinema. +info: 
Anonymous / France / 1968 / 20’ /Original Version with Spanish Subtitles / DCP
During the events of May 1968 in Paris, a group of film-makers including Chris Marker and Jean-Luc Godard, got involved in the making of ciné-tracts. Pamphlet-movies: economy, lightness, speed. An effort to synchronise cinema with the frenetic pace of events. Short, silent pieces, slogans and photographs. Films that speak the language of revolutionary urgency, of action, films that had learnt from the film-makers of the South. In this selection we will see six of these cinema-tracts, six films that dreamed of being as uncompromising as a paving stone and as fast as a pamphlet. +info: 
Jean-Gabriel Périot / France / 2009-2012 / 16’ / Original version with Spanish subtitles / DCP
Few contemporary film-makers have established a more interesting critical dialogue with the archive of militant cinema as Jean-Gabriel Périot. We will conclude the session with three of his recent short films: L’art délicat de la matraque (2009), Les barbares (2010) and The Devil (2012). Three categorical, loutish, ironic and reflexive proposals. Found images, from the silent archives to contemporary riots by way of the Black Panthers and the struggles of 1968. Unexpected visual dialogues in which the soundtrack plays an essential role, creating films that are half-way between propaganda montage, the irreverence of punk, the agitation of the audio-visual guerrilla movement and the rhythm of the video clip.
Pablo La Parra Pérez (Gandia, València, 1987) is a PhD candidate at New York University (NYU). His research explores the militant film culture developed in late-Francoist Spain and the transition, with particular focus on its links to the political dissent movements that made up the international cycle of struggles in 1968. He has published research articles in international journals such as the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies and Sociologias. He has also published book chapters on artist Antoni Abad’s megafone.net project and on the media representation of the migrant population. He is currently curating the project Europe, future past in Tabakalera.
Harun Farocki / FRG / 1967 / 3’ /Original Version with Spanish Subtitles /DCP
“I was on a ship – this sounds like a novel: I had just embarked for Venezuela on June 2, 1967 as the Shah of Iran was arriving in West Berlin. There were protests, a student was shot, and a new form of opposition movement came into existence. The idea for this film came to me while I was still aboard the ship.
The film is structured like a commercial. The film takes a metaphor literally: words can become weapons. However, it also shows that these weapons are made of paper. The weapon spoiled everything for the Shah and his wife, they are wearing paper bags on their heads with faces drawn on them – the kind of bags worn by Iranian students during demonstrations to hide their identity from the Savak, the Iranian Secret Service.
When I showed this film to the audiences in the late 60s, it was highly praised. I think people understood then that over obviousness is also a form of irony. This capacity was lost a few years later. I think it’s coming back today.” (Harun Farocki) +info: 
Göran Olsson / Sweden, Finland, Denmark, USA / 2014 / 89’ /Original Version with Spanish Subtitles / DCP
The Wretched Of The Earth by Frantz Fanon (1960) was much more than a book. It was a sharply drawn and analysis of the colonial system, but also a warcry and a call to face up to it. How can its ideas be translated into pictures? Ideas that spread all over the world in the most unexpected contexts and triggered actions that gave the meaning. In Concerning Violence Göran Olsson proposes a collage in which Fanon’s words, updated in the voice of rapper Lauryn Hill, are mixed with images of anti-colonial struggles in Africa shot by Swedish filmmakers between the 1960s and the 1980s. The result is “Nine Scenes from the Anti-Imperialist Self-Defence”, a work that gives a face to the spiral of violence engendered by the machinery of colonialism—“colonialism is not a thinking machine, nor a body endowed with reasoning faculties. It is violence in its natural state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence” (Fanon). +info:  
Visiting Professor at the Department of Journalism and Audiovisual Communication at the Carlos III University in Madrid and member of the Television/Cinema: Memory, Representation and Industry [TECMERIN] research group. He studies the cinematographic culture of contemporary Spain with special attention on the cross-border dimension of popular films and experimental documentaries. He has had work published in jointly written books such as Transnational Stardom: International Celebrity in Film and Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Sampling Media (Oxford University Press, 2014) among others. He has curated film and video programmes for the Instituto Cervantes, the Seville European Film Festival and La Casa Encendida and was a member of the selection committee at the Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival in Pamplona from 2010 to 2013.
Pere Portabella / Spain / 1974 / 60′ / OV in Spanish and Catalan / DCP
Five former political prisoners secretly met one afternoon in 1974, on the same day that Salvador Puig Antich was executed. Pere Portabella’s camera painstakingly filmed the table where they sat and talked, observed them in detail while their words and their faces created an enthralling exchange on the meaning of prison, the hunger strike, the detachment from reality and the struggle. Based on this masterpiece of Catalan activist films, we embark on a dialogue with Pere Portabella where we will outline his long film career and his track record of commitment.
Pere Portabella (Figueres, 1927) kept his political commitment to all the movements concerned against the dictatorship of Francisco Franco from the 1960s. He was elected Senator in the first democratic elections after Franco’s death, and later became member of Catalonia’s Parliament. As filmmaker, he has kept a relevant activity for more than four decades. As the head of Films 59 he produced some of the most emblematic films of Spanish cinema: Carlos Saura’s Los golfos (The Hooligans, 1959), Marco Ferreri’s El cochecito (The Wheelchair, 1960) as well as Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana (1960). As a film director, he makes his own creations by bringing together the legacy of the avant-garde culture and his search to breach the boundaries of languages. He was the only Spanish artist invited to the documenta XI of Kassel (2002).
Pablo La Parra Pérez (Gandia, València, 1987) is a PhD candidate at New York University (NYU). His research explores the militant film culture developed in late-Francoist Spain and the transition, with particular focus on its links to the political dissent movements that made up the international cycle of struggles in 1968. He has published research articles in international journals such as the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies and Sociologias. He is currently curating the project Europe, future past in Tabakalera.
A performance by Isaki Lacuesta after a Joaquim Jordà’s experience.
“In 1969 I Tupamaros ci parlano should have been as assemblage of material recorded in Uruguay by Romano Scavolini. Yet the weeks went by and it didn’t happen and the film had been announced for a festival. As a quick fix, I added images from a Uruguayan documentary at the start and at the end, and just over an hour of black film in the middle. During the screening, from the booth, it explained who the Tupamaros were using that texts about them. It also explained that, as they were clandestine, there weren’t even any images of them. It was considerably successful.” (Joaquim Jordà)
Isaki Lacuesta (Girona, 1975) has directed seven features and recently finished the eighth, entitled La propera pell (The next skin) and co-directed by Isa Campo. His work has been awarded with several prizes such as National Cinmatography Award given by the Generalitat of Catalunya (2012), Premio Ciutat de Barcelona (2011) or the Golden Shell for Best Film in the San Sebastian International Film Festival for Los pasos dobles (2011).
Marc Karlin / 1985 / English spoken, color / 42’ / DCP
The first film in Karlin’s four-part series on the Nicaraguan revolution that brought down president Somoza’s regime in 1979. Voyages is composed of five tracking shots gliding over blown up photographs that the acclaimed photographer Susan Meiselas made during the insurrection. The film takes the form of an imagined correspondence which interrogates the responsibility of the war photographer, the line between observer and participant, and the political significance of the photographic image. “Photographs are in a way far ahead of our ability to deal with them – we have not yet found a way of dealing, living with them. We have appropriated them in a channel – ‘language’, ‘papers’, ‘magazines’, ‘books’ – all of which seem the only tools by which we can give them an earthbound gravity. We brush past them, flick them, demand of them things they cannot give… Liberate photographs from its priests and jujumen – including myself. We do not need interpreters. We need looks – and thus the task is up to the photographer to renew his or her contract i.e. what can photographs and their arrangement do to defy the prison house interpretation à la John Berger – and make us think of ourselves in relationship to Nicaragua.” (Marc Karlin)
Black Audio Film Collective / Auguiste Reece / 1989 / English spoken / color / 52’ / DCP
“A love story about the city and its undesirables,” this third film by the Black Audio Film Collective evokes the New London – in the filmmakers’ words “a fading world of being and unbelonging:… invisible communities, the displaced and the rise of redevelopment.”
“The film presents an imaginary epistolary narration of a young woman’s thoughts as she writes to her mother in Domenica about the changing face of London, then in the throes of the new Docklands development. She fears it is a city that her mother would not now recognise should she return. The film cuts between this narrative voice and interviewees bearing witness to their youthful experience of the city as a territory mapped by racial, cultural, sexual, gender and class boundaries, a place ‘of people existing in close proximity yet living in different worlds.’ This polyvocal narrative moves restlessly back between past and present, reflecting on the loss of roots and erasure of history caused by the demolition of old established neighbourhoods. The further displacement of already marginalised communities falls under the shadow of the films’s recurrent motif of the public monument to a heroic British imperial history notable for its effacement of its disruptive descendants.” (Jean Fisher)
Stoffel Debuysere (BE, 1975) is a researcher and curator in the fields of cinema and audiovisual arts. Based in Brussels, he has (co-)organised numerous film programs, lectures, performances, and exhibitions in collaboration with a variety of cultural organizations and institutions. He is a programmer for the Courtisane collective and a lecturer in Critical Film Studies at the School of Arts in Ghent where he is also currently finishing the research project “Figures of Dissent (Cinema of Politics, Politics of Cinema)”.