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November 12, 2012

Film Portraits by Ute Aurand

A central figure in the vibrant experimental film scene enlivening Berlin today, Ute Aurand (b. 1957) has only recently received wide recognition outside of her native Germany for her at turns playful and poignant films that creatively engage the tradition of diary film best defined by Jonas Mekas, one of Aurand's acknowledged influences. Aurand's films derive much of their unique and often exuberant energy from their remarkable editing and structure, a kind of precision frame-by-frame montage, at times rapid-fire, that evokes the specific rhythm and personality of the people and places described by her camera. An important showcase of Aurand's singular approach to image and montage is her on-going series of portrait films of friends, family and acquaintances – captivating short works that crystallize fleeting encounters and quotidian details into intimate and affectionate renderings of personality and memory. Among Aurand's finest works is Hanging Upside Down in the Branches, a touching double portrait of her parents, filmed just before their death. — Haden Guest

Filming portraits allows me to emphasize private gestures and moments beyond narration and documentation. Sometimes I collect footage for years before deciding to edit a portrait, like Paulina, Franz, Susan or Hanging Upside Down in the Branches, then again a portrait like Lisbeth was filmed only on two occasions and edited shortly afterwards.

Paulina and Franz are my two godchildren, and I have filmed them since they were very young. Now they are 17 and 28 years old, and the films are a gift to them, seeing themselves growing up and at the same time it allows us to think about our own experiences. The fundamental magic of moving images and of sounds echoes from the past into the present, especially in Hanging Upside Down in the Branches, a montage of brief recollections filmed before the death of my mother in 2000 and the death of my father in 2007. I stand as an adult in the midst of childhood feelings, gazing at the disappearance of my family home and the changing relation to my parents.

In addition to the film portraits, two self portraits will be shown: my very first 16mm film Schweigend ins Gespräch vertieft and the 2.5 minute Zu Hause with a song from a Truffaut film, which my filmmaker-friend Ulrike Pfeiffer once left on my answering machine. – Ute Aurand

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Special support for artists' visits to the Harvard Film Archive is provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

$12 Special Event Tickets - Ute Aurand in Person
Monday November 12 at 7pm

Deeply Absorbed in Silent Conversation (Schweigend ins Gespraech vertieft)

Germany 1981, 16mm, color, 8 min


Germany 2011, 16mm, color & b/w, 5 min


Germany 2011, 16mm, color & b/w, 5 min


Germany 2011, 16mm, color & b/w, 3 min


Germany 2012, 16mm, color & b/w, 5 min


Germany 2012, 16mm, color, 2.5 min

For Karl (Für Karl)

Germany 2012, 16mm, color & b/w, 4.5 min

At Home (Zu Hause)

Germany 1998, 16mm, color, 2.5 min

Jón in Akureyri

Germany 1993, 16mm, color, 9 min

Hanging Upside Down in the Branches (Kopfüber im Geäst)

Germany 1993, 16mm, color, 9 min

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700