Sonja Lau and André Siege

(screening and conversation)

SOUVENIR is a documentary film essay that derives from the private video archives of cultural diplomate, politician and former Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s employee Alfred D. From the 1980s until recently, Alfred D. has recorded his life and work on the process of democratization as propelled by his foundation and political party; encompassing nearly 400 hours of film. However, as filmmaker André Siegers’ view of this image flow has put into light, Alfred D.’s archive does not only offer rare insights and intrinsic “point of view” coverages of the realms of current cultural politics and diplomacies (such as the filming of embassy parties, desks and work spaces, or interviews with politicians on the market and social democracy). It also testifies of a striking, and somewhat bewildering transformation of those images over time. What appears to begin as a documentary archive of Alfred D.’s political work, gradually transcends into a private video diary, and from there into an increasingly fictional account on the political processes, during which Alfred D.’s “role” as a foundation worker blends in with the role of the “hero inside his own film.” The ensuing film essay SOUVENIR lays special emphasis on this very entanglement between filmmaking and the making of politics, and the many different image qualities of Alfred D.’s footage entailed therein. However, unlike re­editing the archive footage into a ficticious narrative in its own right, the film follows a strategy of reflecting and playing further with the already inherent stagedness and “Bühnenhaftigkeit” of its source material, akin to proposing a potential completion of the hidden “tale”, or, “real drama” that undermined Alfred D.’s archive as a whole. The result is a discomforting travelogue that deliberately intertwines the genre of the portrait film – on a “politician with a movie camera” – with a formulation of a democratic critique that will serve as a starting point for the adjacent conversation.