Remembering Harun Farocki
Harun Farocki, the great German filmmaker and video-artist, has died at the age of 70. With his prolific body of work of over 90 films, he managed to leave his mark on reality, interpreting it through his lucid and compromise-free gaze.
The practice of his way of making films was made vital by the depth of a constant aesthetic and political reflection, which found its physical and concrete counterpart in a direct confrontation with the images of daily existence and the mechanisms of contemporary work.
The many films that Farocki presented at the Festival del film Locarno over the course of the years were key examples: from Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik (1996) to Stilleben (1997), to the major “Encyclopédie Farocki” retrospective which in 1998 collected together and unfurled his entire production to date Born in 1944 in Nový Jičín in the Czech Republic, at the time part of Germany, after studying at the German Film and Television Academy, Farocki quickly became a recognized point of reference in the field of highly experimental documentaries.
The German director understood documentary as a form and a style, able to set itself up as a critical bulwark in regards to the sophisticated superficiality of the media and in particular, to the ideological ways with which today’s world transmits images, from Nicht ohne Risiko (Nothing Ventured), about financial capitalism, in which material work evaporates and becomes immaterial, to the world of simulations used during military exercises which in Erkennen und verfolgen (War at a Distance) transform into the “current” image of war
A true visual resistance, which, precisely because it never stopped on the threshold of simply bearing witness, has managed to cross, breach by breach, those sensitive nerve centres of reality in which contemporaneity has taken shape.
In recent years, alongside his directing work, Farocki began writing for Christian Petzold. Their latest project, Phoenix, will be shown at the Toronto Film Festival.