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  • Lars Henriks

Schlingensief - A Voice that shook the Silence

Gee, I don't know.

As a teenager and in my early 20's, I was quite fascinated by Schlingensief's angry, transgressive films. Nothing compared to their erratic energy - Even other, more famous avant-gardists of a similar slant seemed tame after watching Schlingensief's whole oeuvre.

Then, a lot of horrible ugliness happened and I fell out of love with Schlingensief's films because I got a bit too close to the people managing them now and witnessing the way they interacted with the people who were involved with making them.

Seeing this new documentary, I have to do a lot of mental separating to figure out if I like it or not. I think I don't.

Schlingensief is a fascinating interview subject, so that's a plus and that's why I enjoyed watching this. Most of the interviews are recycled, old material though. There's nothing new to find here, not really. Some new images to go along with the words, but is it really that enlightening to actually see a holiday video from the director's childhood that we've heard him describe before? It wasn't, to me.

Also, as the film went on, I started to dislike aspects of this hero of my adolescence. The obsession with Germany and nazism seemed grating at some point (the documentary really plays down his Africa thing. I don't know why. "United Trash" isn't even mentioned, though that one has such an unbelievable backstory!), statements like "I probably would have been a Nazi in the Third Reich" are tired and misguided, all in all he's just a lot more German than I had realized before.

The Making Of stories of Schlingensief's films are fascinating. You won't find a lot of them here.

Seven years ago, I interviewed Schlingensief-collaborator Dietrich Kuhlbrodt, who acted in all of Schlingensief's film but the first one. A fascinating figure himself, Dietrich contributed many hours to tell us the most unbelievable stories surrounding these untypical movies. Often, as with "United Trash", the stories were even more entertaining and unbelievable than the films.

For reasons, we never published the whole interview. But here's a sneak peak:

There's a lot of great, untold stories to tell about Schlingensief. This movie doesn't do that. Still, if you like the artist, you'll have a good time watching this compilation of recycled material.

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