Happy Lamento is the latest film by Alexander Kluge (Halberstadt, Germany, 1932), one of the great intellectuals and film-makers of our time, made in collaboration with Philippine film-maker and enfant terrible Khavn de la Cruz (Quezon City, 1972). This translation of the psychosis of the Internet age into images creates an atlas in which different variations on Elvis Presley’s song “Blue Moon” sit alongside reflections on the birth of electricity, politics as circus and authoritarianism in its multiple forms.
A decade has passed since News from Ideological Antiquity: Marx/Eisenstein/Das Kapital (2008) was premiered in the Museo Reina Sofía during the second edition of the series Intervals, which now screens Happy Lamento. In the former, a vast eight-hour-long cinematic fresco on the contemporary ramifications of Marx’s Das Kapital, Kluge sees film as “a challenge which continues to be unfulfilled” but which can shed light, in the reconstruction of unfinished projects from the origins of the medium, on new models and future possibilities. Conversely, in Happy Lamento he moves away from the notion of cinema as monument and turns to the break-up of the real and the absence of logic that has characterised images after the Internet. The film turns this new paradigm of chained hallucinations into playful associations, combining circus with the last G20 Summit, elephants with utopian techniques at the dawn of modernity and recurrent variations of “Blue Moon”… This is punctuated with extracts from Khavn de la Cruz’s Alipato: The Very Brief Life of an Ember, a film which shows gloomy, futurist slums in Manila, the model metropolis of future megalopolises, where a regime of terror co-exists with out-and-out banality. Thus, Happy Lamento intones a requiem for the cinema and projects of modern transformation, and in doing so celebrates the start of a new and psychotic time, or as Elvis Presley sings in the film: Blue moon/you saw me standing alone/without a dream in my heart.
Alexander Kluge is an eminent film-maker, writer and intellectual in the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first century. He is a member of the last generation of the Frankfurt School and a component of New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Margaretha von Trotta. His filmography includes Abschied von gestern (Anita G.) [Yesterday Girl (Anita G.), 1966], Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: Ratlos [Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed, 1968] and Der starke Ferdinand [Strongman Ferdinand, 1976]. Since 1987 he has directed his own TV programme, analysing the collective intelligence and contemporary knowledge used in an interview format, taking it to its freest form of expression. Kluge is also one of the foremost writers of our time, attested by the stories Air Raid (Seagull Books, 2014) and The Devil’s Blind Spot (New Directions, 2007), and the essays “The Public Sphere and Experience. Toward an Analysis of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere” (written with Oskar Negt and published in the compendium Modos de hacer: arte crítico, esfera pública y acción directa, Universidad de Salamanca, 2001), Geschichte und Eigensinn [History and Obstinacy] (Zweitausendeins, 1981) and Drilling Through Hard Boards: Politics in 133 Stories (Seagull Books, 2018).
Khavn de la Cruz is considered the father of Philippine digital cinema and is a prolific artist and tireless cultural agitator. His work lies between cine pobre (low-budget film), marginal subcultures and the most degraded film genre. He has been a jury member at film festivals such as Berlinale, Clermont-Ferrand, CPH: DOX, Jeonju, Jihlava and Dok Leipzig and is the director of the .MOV International Film, Music and Literature Festival, the first digital film festival in the Philippines. Bamboo Dogs (2018), Alipato: The Very Brief Life of an Ember (2016) and Ruined Heart: Another Lovestory Between a Criminal and a Whore (2014) are some of his most recent films.
Kind regards to Madrid
Germany, 2019, color, sound, digital file, 1 ’
Première of a film conceived for this program
Alexander Kluge, in collaboration with Khavn de la Cruz.
Germany, 2018, colour, original version in German, Tagalog and English with Spanish subtitles, digital archive, 93’
Session 1. Thursday, 12 December 2019 – 7pm
Session 2. Saturday, 14 December 2019 – 7pm