‘Repeat as Necessary: The Art of the Real’ Series at the Film Society Lincoln Center

by Susan Kouguell

As part of the Repeat as Necessary: The Art of the Real series at Lincoln Center, Harun Farocki’s anti-war film “Inextinguishable Fire” and Jill Godmilow’s “What Farocki Taught” were recently screened followed by an insightful Q&A.

“Inextinguishable Fire” directed by Harun Farocki and “What Farocki Taught” directed by Jill Godmilow

"Inextinguishable Fire"
“Inextinguishable Fire”

“Because so many images already exist, I am discouraged to make new ones; I prefer to make a different use of pre-existing images. But not every image can be recycled; a hidden value must pre-exist.” (Harun Farocki, 2008 interview with the South China Morning Post)

As part of the Repeat as Necessary: The Art of Reenactment at the Film Society Lincoln Center program, German director Harun Farocki’s anti-war film “Inextinguishable Fire” (1969, black and white, 29 minutes) screened first followed by Jill Godmilow’s “What Farocki Taught” (1998, 16 mm 30 minutes) a shot-for-shot remake of “Inextinguishable Fire.” Translated from German into English and filmed on color Kodachrome, the backdrops, props, script, costumes and shots are all copies of the original. Every shot is reproduced — with an occasional superimposition of Farocki’s on set about her project: “We don’t have a name for this type of film… it replaces the documentary’s pornography of the real.”

"What Farocki Taught"
“What Farocki Taught”

Filmmaker and video artist Faroki (1944-2014) made over 100 films, many of which were experimental documentaries, often addressing the use of images to instruct and propagandize.

Director Jill Godmilow’s films include the 1974 Academy Award-nominated “Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman” co-directed with Judy Collins, “Far From Poland” (1984), about the Polish Solidarity movement known for its ground-breaking deconstructive approach to the juxtaposition of fact and fiction in documentary, and the Sundance fiction winner “Waiting for the Moon” (1987) about Gertrude Stein.