Visionary Archive

Research project, film festival and exhibition - supported by the TURN Fund

Visionary Archive - Abschlussfestival

"Visionary Archive" was a collaborative translocal experiment: Phases and facets of African cinema were researched in five localities. For this project, five archives with very different backgrounds teamed up to develop new presentation forms for their film collections. The relationship between phenomena related to film history in Cairo, Khartoum, Johannesburg, Bissau and Berlin was formulated and examined. The term "African cinema" served as an open bracket in which historical echoes came into their own, as did open questions.

In addition to the Berlin-based organisation Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, the project’s partners included the Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre in Cairo, the independent cinema The Bioscope in Johannesburg, the filmmaker Gadalla Gubara’s archive in Khartoum, and Geba Filmes (Bissau).

“Visionary Archive“ was divided into five thematic, interconnected projects, all of which investigated what contemporary, transcultural, curatorial and artistic work with archives and archival research could look like. 
The project “Revisiting Memory”, coordinated by the Cimatheque in Cairo, reflected on how films and archives can express social upheavals and the most recent changes in society. The project “B-Schemes“ in Johannesburg aimed to critically examine and present a subject which has received almost no attention to date, namely “B-scheme” films in South Africa, a state-funded Apartheid-era programme supporting “black films for black viewers”. “Studio Gad” was dedicated to the private archive of the filmmaker Gadalla Gubara, one of the pioneers of African film, who died in 2008. Since Gubara’s death, his daughter Sara Gubara, who is also a filmmaker, has taken over responsibility for the archive. The plan was to view and evaluate the archive. The cluster “From Boé to Berlin – A mobile lab on the film history of Guinea-Bissau” was dedicated to the recently re-opened and now partly digitized archival holdings of the national film institute of Guinea-Bissau (INCA).

In May 2015 the project ended with a comprehensive closing programme in Berlin.

"Visionary Archive" was a project by Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin.

Project participants: Hana Al Bayaty (EG), Filipa César (DE), Tamer El Said (EG), Darryl Els (ZA), Yasmin Desouki (EG), Sara Gubara (SD), Marie-Hélène Gutberlet (DE), Tobias Hering (DE), Nadja Korinth (DE), Sana na N’Hada (GW), Stefan Pethke (DE), Stefanie Schulte Strathaus (DE), Katharina von Schroeder (DE)

Closing Programme

From May 21-31, 2015, the participants gave insights into their material, presented their findings and discussed open questions with invited guests and audiences. This festival brought the project to a close while there are still many things yet to be accomplished and took in films, exhibitions, three workshops, and open-air cinema screenings. In addition to Arsenal, the festival took place at the Scriptings and Archive Kabinett project spaces.

Programme (external link, opens in a new window)

With films by Ahmed Bedjaoui, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, David Bensusan, Charles Burnett, Assia Djebar, Tobias Engel, Haile Gerima, Gadalla Gubara, Med Hondo, Gibson Kente, Brigitta Kuster, Angelika Levi, Lennart Malmer, Chris Marker & Alain Resnais, Tonie van der Merwe, Sana na N’Hada, Pape Seck, Ousmane Sembène, Luis de Witt and others

Guests: Enoka Ayemba (film curator, Berlin), Ahmed Bedjaoui (film scholar/journalist/filmmaker/film curator, Algier/Paris), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (filmmaker/producer, Yaoundé/Paris), Kudzanai Chiurai (artist, Harare), Projekt "Colonial Neighbours" (SAVVY Contemporary gallery, Berlin), Gairoonisa Paleker, Sifiso Khanyile (filmmaker/producer, Johannesburg), Brigitta Kuster (artist/theorist, Berlin), Achim Lengerer (artist/curator, Berlin), Angelika Levi (filmmaker, Berlin), Lennart Malmer (filmmaker, Stockholm), Litheko Modisane (literary scholar, Johannesburg), Aalya Musa (filmmaker, Khartum), Aïssatou Seidi (journalist, Bissau), Ala Younis (artist/curator, Amman)

Visionary Archive @ Forum and Forum Expanded, Berlinale 2015

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Starting in 2013, the project Visionary Archive linked up film research in Berlin, Bissau, Johannesburg, Cairo, and Khartoum. This research used a wide variety of strategies to ask similar questions: What can a local archive of films contribute to practices of memory and emancipation in the face of social upheavals and processes of oppression? What kinds of (hi)stories are stored in these archives and their films? What processes of revision do we run into when watching this disparate, idiosyncratic, and fragmentary material?
As part of Forum Expanded, there was a joint presentation of the project, using sounds and images to performatively repose these questions, all the while providing insight into the practices and methods of the ongoing subprojects: the South African B-Scheme films, made for a black audience from the 1970s to the late ’80s; the lifework of Sudanese filmmaker Gadalla Gubara, which bridges both genres and eras; Revisiting Memory, an archival research project related to periods of transition at the Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre in Cairo; the collection of documentary films from the 1970s that are partly held in Guinea-Bissau; and the collection of films by African filmmakers at the archive of the Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, which is closely linked to the history of the Berlinale’s Forum.

12:00 Introduction
12:15 B-Schemes, Darryl Els
12:45 From Boé to Berlin, Filipa César and Flora Gomes
13:15 It all depends, Tobias Hering and Marie-Hélène Gutberlet
14:00 Studio Gad, Sara Gubara, Nadja Korinth, Stefan Pethke and Katharina von Schroeder
14:30 Revisiting Memory, Hana al Bayaty and Yasmin Desouki
15:00 Final discussion

Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg 10, Berlin

TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries

In 2012, the Federal Cultural Foundation established the TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries in order to encourage a wide range of German institutions to shift their focus on the artistic production and cultural debates in African countries.

More about the TURN Fund (external link, opens in a new window)

Visionary Archive: It all depends

Under the banner of "It all depends", regular events took place at the Arsenal cinema using different formats. These events were meant to critically supplement the "Visionary Archive" projects and to engage the public in their translocal work with and on African cinema.

Visionary Archive: It all depends (external link, opens in a new window)

Visionary Archive - Website of the Arsenal


Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V.

Potsdamer Straße 2

10785 Berlin (external link, opens in a new window)