Fred Kelemen - an intriguing German director and cinematographer who worked closely for many years with Béla Tarr.
Fred Kelemen is a director, cinematographer, and producer of Hungarian-German descent. Born in 1964 in West Berlin, he studied painting, music, philosophy, religion, and theater. Before beginning his film studies (dffb) in Berlin in 1989, he worked as an assistant director at a number of theaters. He graduated from university with a diploma in Direction and Cinematography. His diploma film, Fate, received a German Film Award in 1995. He has worked as a cinematographer in collaboration with a number of directors, including Joseph Pitchhadze (Sweets, Israel 2013), Béla Tarr (Journey to the Plain, Hungary 1995, The Man from London, Hungary, France, Germany 2007, The Turin Horse, Hungary, France, USA, Germany 2011), Rudolf Thome (The Visible and the Invisible, Germany 2006), and Gariné Torossian (Stone, Time, Touch, Canada, Armenia 2005). Since 2000, has directed several theater productions in Germany. He conducts workshops and gives lectures at universities around the world: in Barcelona, Geneva, Riga, Santiago de Chile, Bangkok, Lyon, Sarajevo. Retrospectives of his work have been presented at places like the Anthology Film Archives New York and the Tate Modern London. Fred Kelemen is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)/USA, the European Film Academy (EFA), the German Film Academy and of the European Cultural Parliament (ECP).
"Darkness is black velvet on which the world is painted," says Fred Kelemen, a guest of this year's festival and the subject of a New Horizons retrospective. This intriguing director and cinematographer is a master when it comes to long shots, handling light and shadow, framing, and unobtrusive sensibility.
The majority of his work has been shot on film. The program of the retrospective will include all of his directorial work, including his 1999 film Dusk, which was an award winner at Toronto, and his latest film, the uncompromising Sarajevo Songs of Woe (2016). He was also the person responsible for the unique visual aura in Béla Tarr's The Man from London and The Turin Horse (both these films, along with the short Journey on the Plain are also part of the program).
On this black velvet of darkness, Kelemen paints, of course, with light: darkness and light are the most important protagonists in his films, which are guided by German expressionism. But he also made the bone-chilling Frost (1997) and the melancholy Fall (2005), a child of its time, in which punk energy and the specter of terror meet: testing, in different ways, the possibilities for political and social change. A spirit of resistance, something that is close to Kelemen's heart, can be seen in his films, which focus on outsiders and the margins of society, as that is precisely where the state of our society can best be seen. And so Kelemen explores side streets, the alleyways and suburbs of the poor, watching the sad inhabitants of the night passing the hours with successive shots of vodka. He digs around in the dark like someone trying to find a shiny coin they dropped in the mud. In his work, night is a place, bars are time, and the only light capable of defeating the darkness is the one hidden within us. This auteur, personal cinema-truly worthy of the New Horizons title-is certainly worth your time.
"Everyone should let it glow in full, not limited by anything," says the director in an interview in the book accompanying the retrospective Fred Kelemen: Gleaming Dark. This is the director's personal story about cinema, landscapes, and his search for Utopia.