“Save Short Film From Art”

As a primarily fine-art connoisseur, I must admit initially that I was a bit out of my element the opening night of Interfilm at the Volksbühne Theater in Mitte. The concept of sitting down in a red velvet seat in an enormous dark theater to watch a film is an activity I rarely engage in. However, I found myself enjoying the relaxation of not having to trudge through endless rooms of the galleries and museums that I would otherwise frequent on a Tuesday night.

The night’s program is incredibly entertaining with a plethora of short films ranging from documentaries and comedies to more artistic experimental films, such as a movie of colored ink being injected into water accompanied by live music. Just as I think I have actually managed to escape the art world for an entire night, the festival director/CEO of Interfilm delivers a closing statement which sends my art radar into a frenzy. “One of the primary goals of Interfilm is to save the short film from art,” Hermanns boldly states. “We need to take the short film out of the ‘ghettos’ of the galleries and bring it to a larger audience.”


Another venue for the Interfilm festival, the Babylon Theater in Mitte. Photo: Chris Phillips

I sit in stunned in silence with the rest of the audience for a moment and then hastily fumble for pen and paper and frantically begin to scribble down notes as an avalanche of questions flood my mind. Save the short film from art? The “ghettos of the galleries”?What does this mean?! Truthfully, the idea that showing a short film in a gallery setting as opposed to a cinema could be detrimental had never crossed my mind. Naturally I had to catch up with Hermanns the following weekend to delve deeper into this controversial statement.

The Art of Film

The film is an art form in itself,” Hermanns explains at our meeting in the cozy, plush room, Roter Salon at Volksbühne, the headquarters for the festival. “Film combines all art forms – literature, theater, music, etc. – if you put it back to one art form and say oh ‘this film is art’ and present it in a gallery it only gets very interesting for a limited more ‘intellectual’ audience.” 

Hermanns believes that many of the film elite have the tendency to place the short film into a category with video art and experimental films which only a select few understand. “The short film is no different than any other genre except that it is short,” Hermanns explains. “It can be experimental, or narrative, or even commercial, that what is so interesting about it, but for me video art is something completely different.”

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