"Thank God for film archivist Dennis Nyback. If not for his encyclopedic knowledge of rare films and his tenacity for acquiring them, we would never have the privilege to view some astounding works of cinema." Kim Morgan


Dennis Nyback takes his films around the world. Find out how to book a show, what programs are available, how to arrange for custom programming, and just about anything you would like to know about Dennis Nyback.

British Food

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April 12  Manchester, England

I like a morning routine. Here, it is to take the walk, including through two parks, to the Starbucks on Oxford Road and drink coffee and read the New York Times and write. This morning I also had a mission. That was to go to the North West Film Archive and see if I could borrow a projector speaker and a short lens for the show on Thursday at the Lass O’Gowrie pub. Things started just fine when I found I could add five pounds to my Starbucks card and use it.   I wondered what the exchange rate would be. That would allow me use of the wifi.  I was shocked to see that when using the card here I got a fifty cent break on the price of a cup of coffee. They also don’t even bother to charge for refills. Probably because only because an American would ask for one and very few of them come in. I was due at the NWFA at 9:30 which didn’t allow much delving into the news. I did get a report posted on my blog. That got me just a couple of days behind.

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A young couple with a blond two year old boy lingered over coffee. Every few minutes the little boy would dash off and one or the other parent would say “Reese!” and he would return. I was surprised he didn’t show more resistance. Eventually they finished their coffees and prepared to leave. They strapped him into a stroller and only then did he scream. He yelled all the way out of the store.

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On my way to NWFA the sun was shining but the wind was knocking most of the warmth away. I had a hand drawn map provided by Marian Hewitt. That took me right to it on Chorlton Street just off Whitworth. Inside the front door was a complete 35mm projector. I asked for Marian and she called to me from another room. She came out and introduced me to Mark Bodner. He was a cheerful looking man with a round head containing no hair at all. I was then introduced to a woman named Jeanette. She was there to be given a tour of the place. I was told to tag along. Mark then took us on a fascinating trip. He started by giving us each four inch long examples of 8mm, Super 8mm, 9.5mm, 16mm and 35mm film, all stapled together. He explained they were all the formats they archived. He also said they try to limit the archive to film from the region.

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The first stop was to a hallway that had been made into a work station where two people were seated examining 16mm films on flat bed systems with no viewers. The films had to be hand inspected and repaired if needed before viewing. In a nearby room were two complete Steenbeck flatbed editors. Mark said he had modified the Steenbecks to become telecine transfer machines. Near to them were a whole bunch of video decks and monitors. Mark had come to work twenty three years earlier and everything I was looking at  had been assembled by him. He then showed us examples of different types of films on different monitors they had transferred including black and white16mm from the early 30s, black and white 9.5 from the forties and Kodachrome 16mm from the sixties. He showed us both standard DVD and High Definition of the same film split down the middle on one screen for a side by side comparison. He said there was some film that couldn’t be transferred to High Definition because it would “be too ruthless and expose every flaw.”

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So far Jeanette hadn’t asked a single question. I asked her what her interest was. She said she had just been hired by the local government and had been assigned to see what various publicly funded entities were doing. We then went up a flight to the film storage rooms. The coldest room was for color film. It also had a specific humidity that was different from the black and white room. The warmest room, still cold, was a staging room for bringing films out of the colder rooms in a gentle and graduated manner, to avoid having them suffer from “thermal shock.” He said to take a film from the coldest storage to room temperature was a three week process. All films were stored horizontally. We discussed the basic hardiness of film as opposed to survival rate of DVD and other ways to store the data from them. Stored film can be good for at least a hundred years. A DVD has an average life span of twenty. He posed the question “How can an archive commit itself to hard drive storage when there is such high failure rate?” That is a good question.

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After the tour we went to Marian’s office where the four of us sat down to coffee, tea, cookies and Kit Kat Bars. After that Mark took me on the search for a lens and speaker. The speaker was no problem. He took one off of a donated projector. The lens was problematical. He couldn’t find a single inch and a half lens or any Filmovara lens attachments. He did loan me a zoom lens, that I thought was identical to the one John already had, and an odd lens he said would create big image but would have to be taped to the base lens. He said they’d paid several hundred bucks for that lens and never found an application for it.

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I left with my booty and walked to the house. I found John in the kitchen at table working on paperwork. I left the stuff there and left again to take a better look at the city. The sun was still shining and the cold wind was still blowing. I took a leisurely stroll of a couple of hours that me took past things I remembered and things I don’t think I had ever seen. That was no surprise, as most of what I remembered from my three previous trips to Manchester, all three during the month of October, were of darkness and rain. In daylight it didn’t look bad. At Whitworth Street I walked the opposite direction from NWFA and followed the elevated train track. It is not an erector set sort of elevated track such as in Chicago.

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It is supported by massive stone arches. Inside the arches are businesses. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have one of those businesses with trains rattling right overhead night and day.

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I walked as far East as Whitworth would take me. I found a huge structure I assumed was a train station that was the municipal car park. There I turned South. I found a huge round building made of white stone that was the main library. It was closed for repairs with a chain link fence all around it. I eventually came to the upscale shopping area. I went into a Marks and Spenser grocery store looking for peanuts in the shell. I settled for shelled peanuts in a bag.

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I walked through crummier shopping areas and eventually came back to upper Whitworth Street. I passed that and turned toward John’s house on a less traveled side street. It was home to pubs and Chinese restaurants. I passed the Lass O’Gowrie and noticed the poster I had made was not among those in the window. I came to Oxford Road and cut through the first park. Walking in front of me were three teenagers. Two of them were holding hands. Both were dressed in extremely colorful outfits. The boy had a multicolored jacket and striped pants that made his legs look long and skinny. His hair stuck up several inches in the air adding height. The effect was added to by very tall platform shoes. They looked like five inch tall black bricks under his feet. The girl wore the same shoes with not as much hair but also tight pants and a jacket that was covered with little tufts of hair. The girl walking with them had no platform shoes and appeared half a foot shorter at least. They walked at good clip with people they approached obviously taking notice.

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It was past six when I reached the the house. It didn’t appear that John had moved in the time I was gone. He was in the same pose at the kitchen table with papers all around him. He told me he had meat pies in the oven that would be ready in an hour. He gave me directions to a big grocery store. The route was via a pedestrian overpass crossing the freeway. It was then along a big wild parkland. The ASDA grocery was part of a group of other large stores. It surprised me. It was like an American suburban shopping center in the middle of big wasteland of open ground. I bought Newcastle Brown Ale.

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When I was first in college in Seattle a British restaurant called the Unicorn had opened around the corner from where I lived. A British man named Angus ran it.  I had dinner there within a week of it opening. It offered pasties peas and chips, steak and kidney pie, shepherds pie, and other traditional British food. I ate there regularly for several years. It also introduced me to British beer. That was before the craft beer movement when all beer in America was mass produced lager with no character. You could find Angus’ pasties in area grocery stores.  When I first came to England in the 90’s I looked for that same food and found it hard to find.

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Dinner was traditional British pub food. Along with the meat pies was boiled potatoes and carrots. There was also gravy. All perfect with Newcastle Brown Ale. Yumm! After dinner I got another report posted on my blog. I was then caught up to date. So concluded an open day with no film gig. The next day would be the Green Room show. After that a day show at Bolton University and the evening show at Lass O’ Gowrie. The next morning, flying home.

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Out of Breath Getting This Far

 

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Some foreshadowing here if you haven’t read yesterday’s report. First of all, in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t speak German. In Kiel I discovered that the Sunday screening of A Synagogue For Bad Segeberg, of which I did the English subtitles and English DVD covers and etc., was part of the Filmfest Schleswig Holstein. I also found that Karsten and Film Groupe Chaos would be doing an installation for the festival in the big room of Die Pumpe which was festival headquarters. I helped with the installation which consisted of two 16mm projectors, three 8mm projectors, two fixed (single image) slide projectors, and one carousel slide projector, all projecting vintage images of Kiel on the machinery left from the old pumping station for the whole city, which now resided on the ground floor of a multipurpose cultural center. Here we start in the morning after the opening night of the festival.

March 26  Kiel, Germany

I got up at 6:45 and had the kitchen to myself for a couple of hours of drinking coffee and perusing the news and introspective existential thinking. Around nine I decided to work on a blog post. I had neglected that for several days. I worked on it diligently, deciding on posting four days worth of reports in hopes of getting caught up to date in a couple of days, but didn’t have it ready to post before it was time to go to Die Pumpe for the three o’clock opening and 4:00pm screening. Karsten spent the late morning and early afternoon working on more 16mm film loops for the installation in case the ones in use got chewed up. When we arrived at Die Pumpe the room was locked up but soon a man appeared who let us in. I had seen the man around the place. He was youngish, above average height, with a bald head ,and a solid build. Karsten’s plan was to see that things started right and then drive to Bremen, leaving me in charge of the Medusa’s head sort of construction.

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Things did go well but he decided there should be more variety for the fixed slides so he said he would go home and then come back with the slides on his way out of town. I could then put new slides in ever couple of hours. I asked him to also bring beer as there was no sign of tables being set up for another free feed. At four I went into the auditorium to watch Last Exit to Nickelsville and Jimi- Das Fehmarn-Festival. The first was a 16 minute doc ( I first read that as a 16mm doc, and was disappointed when I found it was just the running time) about a sort of Hooverville in Seattle that the residents named Nickelsville after mayor Greg Nickels. The second was a doc about a yearly Jimi Hendrix music festival that is in the nearby town of Fehmarn where Jimi had himself played a concert in 1970 two weeks before he died. I really enjoyed it, especially the footage of Jimi playing, which I had never seen. The original concert was held in terrible weather and included footage of driving rain and people huddled under tarps. Hendrix performed about twenty songs. Interspersed were scenes from the more recent festivals on the same site. Several times during the presentation I popped out to check the installation.

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About half way through I came out and found Karsten had come back and was ready to go. He had left the slides and beer in our storage space for this and that which was sort of in the middle of the machinery. He also said he had put the last spare lamp in the Siemens projector. One nice thing about the Siemens projector was that it was so old it had no auto load capability and was a snap to load and unload. A drawback was the projection lamps for it were no longer manufactured. Just before he left the loop in the front Bauer autoload 16mm projector, sitting on the big motor, held in place with webbed belting, chewed up the loop. The replacement loop didn’t want to load and I finally had to give up on the auto-load and load it manually, which is next to impossible unless you do it all the time. The new loop was shorter than the old one. On that projector we had attached with duct tape a slim pole and taped a wire loop to the end of the pole to add length to the film path, so that the film wouldn’t drag on the floor. With the new loop I had to move the wire loop down the pole a couple of feet. I finally got that finished just as the feature let out. The new loop was in black and white of a boy in a swim suit putting flippers on his feet before diving into the pool and swimming. I had learned recently that the pool shown had been closed for many years and would soon be turned into an artists collective.

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I talked to one of the directors of the Jimi Hendrix film who was talking to Elisabeth Saggau. I asked him if the Hendrix family had come after him about rights for the music in the film. He said all of the music was owned by Geffen but that might be just for Europe. I told him of the family complaining about my showing in Seattle a three minute film Jimi was in, a sort of pre-MTV rock video from 1969, with their claim that they owned everything he ever appeared in. He told me he hoped to work something out with them for US screenings. I told him I had never seen the footage before. He said it had never been seen. Apparently the promoters of the event had filmed the whole thing with the idea of releasing a film version but never got it done. Elisabeth said she had known the promoters and all of them had gone broke putting on the concert, at least one of them ending up a ruined and bitter man. I talked to Bernd-Gunther and found that he had been at Fehmarn and had seen Jimi Hendrix there in 1970. Wow!

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With everything working I walked to the Subway Sandwich Shop around the corner and got a hoagie to go and ate at a table next to the number 2 16mm. I then went in to watch the 8:30 show of shorts. The guy introducing the show was the same young bald solid guy who had let us into the locked big room that morning. I would never have guessed from just talking to him what an entertaining guy he could be in front of a crowd. He looked comfortable, with just a little edgy nervousness to add frisson, and got a lot of laughs. All of the films were worth watching but none really stood out. After each one I would go out and check the installation while the film makers Q and A with took place in German on the stage. About the forth time out I found the last lamp had failed in the Siemens projector. I replaced it with the spare Bauer projector that had a loop in it already. I got that done in time to see the start of the next film. Before the next to last film I came out and noticed a really bad white scratch down the center of loop of the swimming boy with flippers in the the number one 16mm. When I had moved the wire loop down the pole I reused the tape and didn’t notice it left the end of the wire sticking out the bottom. The film had dragged over the end of the wire, scratching it. Since that projector didn’t like to load it took me the whole short film to get another loop going. It was the shortened version of the marching men with the one guy drinking beer. I was able to go in and see the last film in the program  Heartwork by Nils Struven . The next day I found that the one film I missed had won the top prize in the festival.

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There was no repast after the show so most of the crowd didn’t linger. The 8mm loop on the round face broke so I spliced it. Even that was a chore since I have never worked much with 8mm which uses press tape splices instead of the guillotine splicers I am used to. The loop on the number two 16mm broke and I replaced it with a black and white loop of 1950s men pole vaulting at night under the lights. I waited till there were just a few in for the long time stragglers left before shutting everything down and walking home. I took a dead reckoning way, instead of the longer way via the railroad station, and came to the big road that looked like the one that connects Luther Street, where Karsten’s house is, to Palenke. At least I thought it was the same street. It also looked like a street way across town. To make sure I went into a Shell Station and looked at the map. The kid working there helped, which really saved time. He knew where on the map the Shell station was. Yes, I was on the right road. I felt I should buy something as appreciation for the info. Next to the cash register Mars bars were on special two for a Euro. I bought a pair and ate them as I walked. I thought about Mars Bars as they were when I first tasted them. Then they came in a distinctive green wrapper. The bar itself was flatter with two almonds that made bumps in the surface. They had a distinctive, not just sweet, flavor. Now the wrapper was brown and the bar was square. The flavor is more sweet, not much different from a Milky Way bar. I wondered why they changed it. I guessed that sweet tested better than distinctive and square is more appealing than flat and bumpy. I wonder if they still make the oddly shaped and peculiarly flavored Idaho Spud bar, a favorite of my dad. I got home around eleven.

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March 27

I got up at 6:45 but since it was Day Light Savings day the clock said it was now 7:45. Again I had the house to myself. I took my time over coffee and then worked on the blog report which would be titled Four Days at a Whack. I finally got it finished and posted it. Just puttering around and taking a bath got me to 2:30 when I realized with the longer walk I’d better skedaddle. Since A Synagogue For Bad Segeberg would play that day at 4:00 I put on a neck tie and took along my black leather dress shoes. Before leaving I found a pile of 16mm film on the floor by the bathroom door. I pulled out a long piece and put it in my pocket. We had gone through Karsten’s loops and I thought it might be useful.

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It was sunny day with blue skies and a very pleasant walk. I took the return walk more or less that had got me home the night before. When I arrived a crowd was already milling around in the big room. I got the installation fired up. The mood of the crowd was great. Part of that might have been the sense that Spring had finally arrived. It was also because much of the crowd were either people who had appeared in the documentary, people who had worked on the documentary, or friends and family of those people. With everyone seated the place was nearly full. After short opening remarks the film started. After half an hour I went out to check the installation.

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Both of the 16mm’s had chewed up their loops. I got the back one, the replacement for the Siemens, going first. It now had a very short loop of black and white flying seagulls. For the number one projector I had to get all the film pieces out of the projector and I then loaded in the film I had found next to the bathroom door. It was of young woman’s swimming team at the old pool. Climbing up on the motor wearing the leather soled dress shoes was fraught with peril. I was just finishing when Bernd-Gunther came out and said I was needed on stage. That was nice but not necessary. I hadn’t done anything for the film that was shown. My only contribution was for the English language DVD which they did have for sale. On stage were Ullie, Elisabeth, Moses, and a bunch of the crew who I had never met. They then brought up people who had appeared in the doc. Ullie than said a few words, one question was taken from the audience, Ullie spoke again, and that was it

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They were again setting up the tables for food so I didn’t go to Subway again. I went in to watch the 6:00 show. The first film was Rancho Texas with Charles Bronson. That’s not exactly right. It was a day in the life of a Charles Bronson look a like who worked at a German fake wild west theme park called Rancho Texas. To me the German interest in the old American west and cowboys and Indians is deeply weird. It all goes back to the German writer Karl May, whose books were favorites of Hitler. When I came out the number two 16mm projector had stopped, the loop on the 8mm onto the round face had broken and a third 8mm that had presented no problems till then had the lamp go out. I first spliced the round face 8mm. I then worked on the 16mm. It wouldn’t load and I eventually had to take it over to the corner where there was a floor lamp to see that a tremendous amount of dirt had built up in the rails of the aperture gate making it hard for the film to advance I got it going again. Now it had black and white footage of a guy getting his chest measured with a cloth tape by a doctor. Karsten had shown me that when the lamp goes out in an 8mm projector it is almost never that the lamp needs to be replaced. What needs to be done is the lamp has to be taken out and its contacts cleaned, which have been building up crud while lit. I had cleaned the contacts in that projector twice before. This time the lamp didn’t want to light at all so I gave up and took it off line. There was another 8mm waiting that would replace it. That one didn’t want to light either. I considered that a sign and gave up that station completely. It had been the last projector installed and was the least crucial to the whole operation. The whole installation would be disassembled in an hour anyway.

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Ruben showed up. That was a surprise. I had thought I would have to tear down the installation myself. I hadn’t looked forward to getting the big screen down from the top of the fly wheel. The demolition work would start as soon as the 8:00 show was seated. That would be award winners for the festival. We had about half and hour to wait. I took two Becks beers from the big cooler set up for the crowd after the show and we sat in the corner by the floor lamp to talk. World events were the topic with the nuclear reactor problem in Japan being first up. From there we got into Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Ruben told me that when he was growing up they were routinely shown on German television, That amazed me. That would have been about twenty years after they had been made. He said they had given him a sense there was a bigger world outside of Germany with different standards of what was funny. I asked him if The Firesign Theater had also made it to Germany. Nope, them he had never heard of.

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With Ruben tackling the screens and me tackling the projectors we had everything in Claudia’s car in a jiffy. The drive to Karsten’s was uneventful. It was good that Ruben knew the most direct way. It was the first time I had driven a car in Europe. It was also the first time I’d driven a stick shift in at least ten years. We dumped all the stuff in the Arab room. We were looking forward to getting back for the food. When we were ready to leave the car wouldn’t start. It cranked over just fine but there was no ignition. I wondered if it was a sort of diesel equivalent to vapor lock. That could be cured by waiting a few minutes unless it was a real hot day, which today was certainly not. I went in and used the toilet. Ruben had a cigarette. After that it started just fine. We got back to Die Pumpe before 9:30. The crowd had still not exited the auditorium. I took two more beers from the cooler for Ruben and me.

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Everyone exiting the auditorium seemed in a good mood. For me it was pleasant to not be fretting about the installation. The food was a disappointment. It was supposed to be a repeat of Friday, except the soup had spoiled and had been taken away. That left just the accoutrement to soup, which was bread, cheese, little crabs, and the cherry jam and cream for dessert. I made the best of it. I then walked home and got there without having to ask for directions.

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March 28

I had set the alarm for five and when it alerted me I got up. That allowed me my normal coffee, toast and New York Times time but little time for existential introspection. It didn’t take much time to pack. I would not be back in Kiel until after Bern, Düsseldorf and Hamburg. I put all the films in the suitcase with my clean clothes, all my dirty clothes into the backpack, the computer and all papers in the Coach bag, and was ready to go. I left at 6:40am. It was still dark. At the station I was ten minutes early for the train waiting at platform 3 and was able to buy a Trib in the news shop. Sometimes it isn’t out that early. This was the same train as the one to Lausanne. This time I would be using my rail pass. It was a long walk on the platform past the eight cars of second class and the Bistro car. I climbed up in the first first class car and was entering a compartment when the conductor told me it was reserved was for a family with kids. I left the suitcase there and found a compartment in the second first class car. That compartment only had reservations listed for Hamburg to Frankfurt and also Hanover to Mannheim, which meant I might be alone for most of the journey. I then went back for my suitcase, but took it outside and around on the platform to get to my seat, as the car I had walked through three times already was filling up.

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At Hamburg a man came in and took a chair opposite. I assumed that was the reservation for Frankfurt. That was wrong. He was just an interloper who got off at Gottingen. The reservation at Hannover was a blond woman with brown eyes who resembled Martina Natrilova. She was wearing black tights, a gray short skirt and matching shirt/jacket. with lots of pockets and zippers, on both the skirt and jacket, the outfit having a sort of army surplus effect. Or maybe it was more of a fighter pilot inspired sort of suit. She immediately went to sleep. At Kassel-Wilhelmshoe a woman with black hair came in. She was wearing a striped dress shirt with gray pullover sweater and blue jeans. She opened a book and began to read.

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On three occasions a man came in and tossed in packets of Brandt Knusper Kugeln candy onto the table. They looked like small malted milk balls but were flavored with marzipan. The forth time he came in I asked him if he had anything different. He said at 4:00 there would be a change from candy to nuts. At that time I would finally be changing trains in Basel. Three times a man came in with free German newspapers. My ticket was examined twice. On several occasions a woman with coffee on a tray came by. There is nothing like this bother in 2nd class. After Frankfurt I went to the diner car and got the special of croissant and cafe au lait. The man asked me if I spoke French. I told him no but that it would be good if Americans knew more than one language. He said that was no longer needed as English was now the common language uniting all others. That was so different than when I first came to Europe nearly twenty years ago. Back then I would occasionally have to dredge up the very little German or French I knew in order to get what I wanted on a train with out pointing at stuff on the menu.

The blond woman got off at Mannheim. She said goodbye, which both the black haired woman and I replied to. I then got into a conversation with the black haired woman. She was concert pianist originally from Romania on her way to Zürich to visit friends. The book she was reading was an Edgar Wallace omnibus. Wow, I had no idea he was even in print, much less in a language other than English. He was a prolific writer starting in the late 19th century of tales of crime and adventure. The candy man came back with peanuts especially for me and tossed several packets on the table.

I told the black haired woman, who told me her name was Luiza, about the piano players in my Jitterbug show. She said she would be in Hamburg at the end of the month and would try to get her friends to come to the show. One reason I like talking to people when I travel in foreign countries is they will sometimes provide points of view I would never think of. Both the woman from Riga in the cab to the airport in Tampere, and the young man on the train going to the Frankfurt airport for a vacation in Spain were amazed that the majority of Americans did not posses passports. To them a passport was like a Social Security Card is to us. The idea that a person could walk around with no identification at all just blows the minds of Europeans. Louisa was surprised that when she would go to the cinema she was seeing 35mm motion pictures that were visually no different than motion pictures a hundred years ago,35mm film at 24 frames per second. It is surprising to consider that with all of the amazing advances that have recently been made with computers and the world wide web that much of what we do, whether it is driving a car with an internal combustion engine, or flying in a fixed wing airplane, or riding on train, or going to the movies uses technology from no later than the beginning of the 20th century

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After eight hours on the train it arrived in Basel where I got off and walked across the platform to the train to Bern waiting there. When I showed my ticket to the conductor he asked for my passport. I told him that was a first, meaning normally the Eurail pass is accepted at face value. He replied it was common at border crossings. Hmm, maybe across the border to Switzerland, or I suppose crossing into other countries that are not part of the Eurozone.

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When I got off the train in Bern I turned the correct way and hadn’t walked far when Mani approached coming the opposite way. It was great to see him, although this time it had only been since November when I had last been in Bern. Usually it is a year between my trips to Europe. He looked just the same, like Tin Tin, although he no longer had the blond spit curl in the front to cement the impersonation. We walked to where his bike was parked and then across the bridge to his flat. The warm sunshine was markedly different from the last time I was here when instead of rolling my bag behind me we had put it on his bike so it would not be wading through the melting snow and possibly corrupting the films inside.

It was almost five when we got there. That left just enough time for me to take a shower and put on my last clean outfit, and sit down for a quick dinner of stir fried Thai vegetables, salad of greens, hard boiled eggs, and vinegar; before we headed for the Lichtspiel, driving there in a Mobility Smart Car that we retrieved from the spooky, in a Spy That Came in from the Cold sort of way, underground car park at the bottom of the hill.

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A crowd of around forty, a little less than usual for my shows at Lichtspiel, came to the show. I gave a better than average introduction, remembering to mention the Louise Brooks angle, and got what seemed to be a very appreciative hand of applause. There was a fifteen minute break for the reel change. I talked to several people who said they were very much enjoying the show. It really is one my most crowd pleasing creations. I addressed the crowd again before rolling reel two. I also gave some closing remarks at the end of the show, remembering to fill them in on Peggy Hopkins Joyce.

March 29

Mani was already gone when I got up at 8:00am. I made coffee and read yesterday’s Trib. I then worked on getting my journal up to date. When I had what I considered a ready to add links to blog post for March 22-25, meaning one more four day report would catch me up, I left the flat. I wore the top coat but not the sport coat just to give it a rest. It was a sunny day. I crossed the bridge and then walked down the main shopping street looking for a Starbucks. I didn’t need the coffee but I did need the wifi. It took a while but I found one. It was kind of in the middle of a plaza and doing a great business. I could not use my Starbucks card there. They did have a better selection of bagels then on the west coast of America. I got a cinnamon raisin. They did not have butter. They did also not have drip coffee ready. Prices were higher than in the US. The bagel was about two bucks and came out soggy from the microwave. The wifi was limited to an hour. I used all of that and still didn’t have the post ready. Trying to think of art and then finding it and posting it can take a lot of time. When my time was up it did allow me to re-up. I should have read the fine print. What I think was I was given ten more minutes to conclude whatever I was doing with losing data This time I did did not get a re-up chance. Luckily, WordPress automatically saves stuff. I left and went looking for a cafe with free wifi. I walked all over without finding one. I was surprised by just how many people were out on the streets. The sidewalks of the shopping streets were packed on this Tuesday afternoon. It was like it was in America when I was little. I asked a group of four young women in front of a hip looking cafe on a side street if it had free wifi. Only one spoke English. From them I found that in Europe Wifi is called Wireless and you don’t find it in cafes for free. They directed me to an internet cafe. I was able to find it. It did not have wireless. It did have computers that cost one Franc for six minutes or ten Francs for an hour. I got the report posted within 6 minutes. That was with some misspellings. On the computer half of what I wrote came up as misspelled so finding my actual miscreant words was hard. I didn’t get a post on Facebook announcing it. For the extra Franc I did put up the facebook post and then quit.

Mani had told me he wouldn’t be in until ten at night. I went looking for a grocery store to buy something for dinner. I asked a couple of civil servants wearing name tags and taking a smoke break for directions. They said there were two grocery stores in the train station. I asked if that meant with fresh fruits and vegetables and they said yes. In the upstairs of the station I found a Migros store. My first thought was fixings for a Joe’s Special but the ground beef looked suspect. I then considered a take home to cook pizza. I then thought about a Greek salad. I found cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese, all very cheap. I assumed Mani would have oregano and olive oil. I then looked for a steak. I couldn’t find one. I guess the T Bone steak is an American invention. I looked at pate but it was all pre-packaged. There was no meat counter in Migros, just wrapped and ready meats. I finally decided that a can of sardines would go well with a Greek salad. They did not sell wine at Migros. The clerk directed me to the wine shop just across the way. There I got a seven dollar bottle of Cabernet and hoped for the best. The clerk wrapped the bottle in paper. I jokingly asked if the paper would keep it from breaking if I dropped it on the sidewalk. The clerk gave me perplexed look. I told him to forget it. That further perplexed him. I then told him it was just a joke. He then asked me if I wanted it in a bag. I said no and left. It was now so nice out I could have gotten by without a coat. I bought a Trib at the station and went home.

In the kitchen found I was wrong about Mani having oregano. He did have three types of paprika. I used a mixed seasoning in a plastic bag labeled fisch krauter. It contained Salbei, Rosmarin, Marjoran, Thymian, Basilkum, and Lorbeer. The salad tasted good, but sweeter than usual. The sardines were huge but tasted good.

I worked on this blog post until 10:30 and then went to bed.

Four More Days of Fun?

March 22 Tuesday

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I had set two alarm clocks to get me up at 6:15am for my 7:12 train. I arose at 5:45 instead. I made a short pot of coffee. I read a little news with the coffee and a couple of pieces of toast. I dressed in khaki pants, a dark dress shirt, and my sport coat. I put black jeans and a tee shirt and a sweater vest in the backpack with the films. I put on my overcoat and headed for the station at 6:40. It was middling dark but getting lighter as I walked. I was in plenty of time so I bought a Trib before boarding the standing train in the first car. For this trip I would not be using my rail pass. I had been given a ticket good for a round trip to Switzerland by Ulrich Selle, the director of A Synygogue For Bad Segeberg, that was part of some sort of travel promotion. I sat in a four seats with table in a chair car. A woman took the one across the aisle. She was dressed just like me except she had pin striped shirt and a long sleeve sweater with khaki pants. She had red-blond hair in a prince Valiant cut. She took out papers from a briefcase and worked steadily until she got off at Hamburg.

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The conductor took a look at my ticket and gave me a quizzical look. I hadn’t filled in my name and destination and date. Well, I thought the guy the day before at the reisebureau had totally prepared it. I put that data in and it was accepted. I walked through seven 2nd class cars to get to the cafe car. There I got the special of croissant and cafe au lait for 3.50. The croissant was very fresh. The cafe au lait was fine. I walked back noticing one car was packed with students, all of them it seemed, eating something.

The woman across the aisle left at Hamburg. A young man appeared who stood in the aisle a long puzzling time before finally stowing stuff in the overhead and sitting down. He then got his laptop out and stared out the window for a while before finally starting to type. He had come prepared with a big bottle of water and a pastry in a bag. He got up to leave, and asked me to have a “short look”at his things while he was away. I read the Trib till just before Frankfurt. There I got out the laptop. There was no electrical outlet but I figured the battery would last till Lausanne.

After my ticket was checked, and punched, a second time, I walked the seven cars to the cafe car. I was surprised to see the students still there. Maybe they were going for ski trip in Switzerland. Included in my free ticket was also a voucher for a free drink, among those offered, Becks beer. At the counter I was told that it had be consumed in the dining room. I was surpised the young woman didn’t speak much English and had difficulty telling me that. Maybe she had just come from the east. I walked back to my seat and got a special section that had been in the Trib, all about water, to read while I drank my beer. I walked back, through all seven cars and took a seat in the dining room. I presented my get a beer free card and was handed a menu and asked what I would like with it. Ah, it was one of those “free” with purchase deals. I got up and took the long walk back. After Freiberg I went to the WC, shaved, hand bathed, and washed my hair. It was a struggle. Train toilets aren’t really designed for that sort of thing.

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At Basel I got off and thought about buying something with my five francs coin but didn’t see anything as I walked to my platform. Good thing. As I was going down the stairs the whistle blew. I got on and found all the seats were fours with a very small table. About two thirds down I found one with just one woman seated and a bunch of her stuff on the seat across from her. I took the catty corner seat. She was my age and not pretty. I liked the way she was dressed. She had gray dress with a short pleated skirt, gray tights, ballet slipper shoes and a mauve cardigan sweater. I have to say that people in countries that speak French generally dress better.  It would be a one hour ride. A young guy took the seat across from me. It was getting toward rush hour. He opened a very large hardback book, Nemesis. He wore a great big wrist watch. I could see it was half an hour still til my change at Biel. There was a reader board at the end of the car announcing stops. I saw Biel but it seemed too early. I thought maybe that was the end of the line announcement. When we stopped it said something completely different. I couldn’t see the name of the station on the platform. I was sitting there when the woman spoke, “For Lausanne you need to change here.” I thanked her and got my stuff and left.

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The train to Lausanne was waiting across the platform. I got on and took one of the only duplex seats, with no table, in the back. The rest of the car had opposed pairs. I had no idea why it was that way. At Lausanne I went down to a main walkway. There I followed the flow of people the long way and came out to a street. I assumed this was the “front door” of the station Sebastien said he had met me. There was one man obviously waiting for something, smoking a cigarette, who ignored me. I sat down to read The Old Curiosity Shop. The smoking man left. I got up and asked a passerby if this was the main entrance. He shrugged and kept walking. I walked out in the street and saw a much more substantial entrance forty yards to my right. I guess I would have come out that way if I had walked the opposite way on the platform. A tall thin youngish man with short brown curly hair came up to me. He apologized for keeping me waiting. We walked a short way to his car. It was an 80’s Citroen station wagon. Cool car! It had a child seat in the back and also a projector. He said he loved the car but it was no longer possible to get parts. We drove a short distance and parked. He left the projector in the back and took my back pack. I offered to take the projector but he said he would drive to the rear entrance and unload there. We walked around the corner and then up two flights of stairs to the theater. It was built in 1913 and was a lot like the Green Parrot. lt was narrower with a full across balcony. Cloth covered walls. The light fixtures were modern. There were amps and speakers and stuff in front of a working waterfall curtain. Several light bars across the ceiling held many spot lights. Sebastien told me that when it quit being a movie theater the owners had taken all the equipment out to keep someone else from operating it as such and there was no 35mm. The projection booth was tiny with very short and wide port windows.

He set the 16 up in the front of the balcony on a table he got from in front of the curtain. It was a Bauer marc 300 projector with an attached rectifier. Much like the projector a the Movie House in the 70’s. There was no take up reel so we didn’t test it. That was fine with me. We walked back out just past the entrance to the theater. There at the top of the stairs from the street was a door controlled by a keypad lock. That led to the apartment I would sleep in. He told me the code for the keypad. We then went up a stone spiral staircase, down a passage and through a door with a stained glass window, around a court yard and up two flights of stairs. There were bikes and all kinds of other stuff in the common areas. All of the lights were on timers which we lit up along the way. He unlocked the apartment door and handed me the key. He said he would go get the take up reel and I could have free time until 7:00. He gave me ten Francs in case I wanted to get something to eat. He said with my 5 francs added I could buy a proper lunch but that a proper dinner would be provided so I shouln’t ruin my appetite.

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He left and I looked around. It was a perfectly nice little apartment with white walls and not much furniture. I stowed my stuff and took the stairs back to the street. I then headed down hill.  The theater was on a walking street with no auto traffic. The general feeling was that of Paris. I went into a patisserie, Tony’s, and bought a shortbread cookie with chocolate spots for 2.50. It was very tasty. I found a news stand where I could buy the Trib in the morning. It was part of an old and cute small building above a public toilet. I found a Starbucks. I walked back up the street to the main road. It crossed an old bridge with no water running under it. It was a long way down to the bottom. I assumed the river was now covered up. A plaque said the bridge had been built in 1908. On both sides of the bridge there were street level elevators that would go down to the Metro or past that to the bottom of chasm. The Metro stop was on a line that in the morning would take me to the train station.

When I got back the door to the theater was open and Sebastien was up in the balcony and had light from the projector on the screen. He had not hooked up sound. I think he thought the films were all silent. He then hooked up the sound and ran part of the first reel. I noticed a lot of hiss. It probably would have been better straight out of the projector to a speaker. We went out to the street and walked down hill to the office. He said it was only thirty meters but I’m sure it was easily twice that. The office looked more like an apartment. It had a full kitchen. It had a nice view across the chasm to a huge cathedral. Sebstien said they could not keep the office much longer as the area was getting gentrified and rents were being raised. A woman named Marianne had made a baked cannelloni baked dish that was yummy. There was a citrus flavor in it.  Before serving Sebastien examined it and said it was over cooked. I thought he was being picky. There was also a nice green salad with tomatoes and French red wine. I had brought my computer with me but could not get wifi. In fact I could not get any signal. When I had the computer check that Microsoft told me my wifi was shut off. I tried to fix that and failed. It was irritating. Back at the flat I did get a signal. Back in the lobby I finally got the theater wifi but the code wouldn’t work. I gave up.

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At show time there weren’t many there but when we started at a quarter after the crowd had grown to twenty. After my talk, without a mike, it grew to thirty and might have been forty by the end of the show. I asked for questions at the reel change and got none. I talked more about Monte Carlo and Everything is Rhythm. The show ran smooth. After the show there were still no questions. No one talked to me in the lobby either. I think there was a language barrier. Sebastien gave me 300 francs ($150?) which was fine as we never had discussed financial terms.

 

March 23

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I awoke at 6:45. Without the overcoat I went to the walking street. At the paper stand there were no out off town papers out. I went to the Starbucks. They didn’t sell papers but they did have wifi. I got a big cup of coffee in a mug for 4.80 I was surprised there were no emails or facebook action in the 24 hours I had been off line. I sent Anne a somewhat pathetic report and checked news at Washington Monthly. I posted two Betty Carter youtubes on Facebook. The newsstand only had one paper rack out when I got back there. The woman was inside the building putting papers on a second rack. She came back behind the counter. I asked for the International Herald Tribune. She shook her head and looked distressed. I went around to the door to the building, went inside and took the Trib off the rack, and went back around to the counter. I paid her four francs for it. I guess I should have tried to pronounce it in a French way with a La at the front. I went to Tony’s and sat in the back. There was a view of the cathedral. I had Cafe au Lait and croissant for five francs.

I went to the flat and got my things and left. I dropped the key in the mailbox. I bought a subway ticket from the machine at street level. I took the elevator down. At the Metro level there were doors instead of an open platform such as in New York. It was more like JFK airport t. When the train appeared the doors opened. The train was packed. The center pole started as a single but branched out to three at hand grasp level. The Metro riders were mostly young and smartly dressed. Station stops were announced. Before the announcement there was noise, which might have been site specific. For Lausanne Flon it was gurgling water. For Lausanne Gare it was a sort of Chinese music.

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At the station I followed the mob to street level and came out across the street from the train station. It was 8:20. I bought a pain au chocolate and put it in my backpack. I went to the platform and there wrote a report in long hand. I got on the train. I walked through two cars of first class and took one of the single row seats in the back. I found a plug in and wrote this report finishing before Genchen Nord. It was two hours for the journey to Basel.

I must have been 7/8 of the way to Basel before my ticket was checked. The young conductor, straggly blond hair, whispy beard, looked at it and laughed. His English wasn’t perfect but what he told me was that my ticket, as filled out on the train the previous morning, was filled out completely wrong, making it worthless. I asked him in that case could I continue on to Basel and there when I got on the train to Kiel I would explain things to the German conductor? He said that would be fine. I told him I was glad he had gotten some amusement from the whole thing, which he then denied.

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My train at Basel was supposed to be on track 9. There I found a train to Koln. I looked on a yellow board and found my train was on platform 9. Based on the trip down where I had observed the end cars near empty and middle cars packed to the gills I hoofed it toward the front. I got on the second car from the end and found an empty compartment. The conductor who came was an attractive young woman. She looked at my ticket, punched it, and handed it back with no comment.

At Karlsruh a young man came into the compartment. He was a first year college student who had been born in State College Ohio to German parents who were attending college there. He had been raised in Germany. He was on his way to Frankfurt to catch a flight to Barcelona. He would have a week vacation there. At the University in Karlsrhuh he was studying economics and engineering. At Mannheim a young couple came into the compartment. I hoped they would also be getting off at the airport but was wrong. The young fellow left and they remained. Also a guy my age came in to take the young man’s place. It seemed to be getting colder as we headed north which might have been my imagination. The skies were blue and free of clouds.

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Both the man and woman went out in the passageway to make phone calls. I used the now unencumbered by legs exitway to take the long walk to the cafe car, and got a Snickers bar. In my bag was a Newcastle Brown Ale that had I found in the room that morning on the table next to the coffee maker. The beer and the chocolate tasted good together. I closed my eyes to nap. The fellow across read my Trib. He looked like he was from India. When I awoke I got out the computer. I told the guy I was happy he got some use from the Trib. I added that there was a lot of news. He replied that the world had gone crazy.

For general amusement a couple of little tykes ran back anf forth in the passageway. The girl had brown hair and might have been four. The boy had blond hair and was younger than three. They would hit the deck often, cry out in pain, ouch ouch ouch, which would eventually turn into laughter, and then they’d do it over again. It really livened up the ride.

Everyone else got off at Hamburg. The couple left never recognizing me or the the other guy. The other guy left and wished me a pleasant journey.

In Hamburg a woman of my age with brown hair wearing slacks and red sweater came into the compartment. She looked like Viginia Wolfe in a pleasant way. She rode all the way to Kiel. When we got there she cryptically said “You don’t want to stay in Kiel.” I told her I was just visiting a good friend and that was that. I guess she might have been  looking for a good friend herself.

I walked to the flat and found Karsten there with his friend Joker. It was good to see Karsten. It had been a couple of years at least. He was working on 8mm films on the kitchen table. I was tired from the long day and went to bed at 9:30.

March 24

I got up at 6:45 and found Karsten in the kitchen typing away on his laptop. He said he had to get a grant application in. I made coffee and toast and read the news and got caught up on correspondence. Later in the morning Ruben arrived on a bike. He is another member of Film Group Chaos and had been at my Palenke screening. He would be working with Karsten on their installation for the film festival. That’s how I learned that the screening of A Synygogue For Bad Segeberg on Sunday was part of a film festival. I told them I’d help with whatever they were doing. They got busy spray painting gold several large picture frames in the courtyard. That was not painting the frames per se. Spray on foam had been added with objects stuck in to add a Dada touch. One had the fuselage and wing of a WW IIGerman fighter model plane and another a doll’s head. There would be white bed sheet material strectched inside the frames. They would be used as screens in the installation. It would consist of projectors, both 8mm and 16mm, putting scenes of Kiel from home movies onto the screens. Slide projectors would also project still images of Kiel.

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Karsten said one of the Siemens projectors he planned to use, made of metal, had failed during a test run with black smoke coming out of it. The Siemens projectors were made of metal and are very cool looking and thought to be indistructible. I went through the various Bauer projectors seeing which ones ran film even though the sound didn’t work. I pulled out ttwo of those. Around one in the afternoon we loaded all the gear into the car. That included one frame so big it had to be roped to the roof. There were around a dozen 8mm projectors, three 16mm projectors and a bunch of slide projectors, plus all kinds of stuff to support the effort including various pieces of wood. It all fit in the VW and still left one seat in the back for me.

We drove to Die Pumpe and parked around the back. With three of us it didn’t take long to get all the stuff inside. Then it was mostly head scratching time to figure out what went where. The theater, restaurant, bar and gallery that collectively is called Die Pumpe was once the pump house for the whole city. On the ground floor, in the middle of the big bar and restaurant, is the old main pump. It has a colossal l electric motor at one end that is at least six feet high. That drives by belt a huge fly wheel. The belt is two feet across and the fly wheel around fifteen feet tall. There is another five feet below floor level. The fly wheel drives two ten foot long piston arms that go into two ten foot tall collectors. The collectors look like boilers in a steam heating plant. Everything is finished in stainless steel or painted gray. It must have weighed several tons. All in all it looks like an exotic device you could somehow used to make a large amount of beer. The equipment is in working order and is run occasionally. It is kept from spontaneously springing to life at some inopertune moment through power serge or other odd phenomenon by the removal of brushes from the motor.

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Since the hauling in was done I was no longer needed. I went out for a walk in the sunshine. I was looking for peanuts in the shell. I found a peculier store, a German form of a Dollar Tree, which had a mish mash of stuff, but no peanuts. I had made a circuit of the area, getting grit in my eye from dust from the knocking down of an big old concrete building, when I ran into Elisabeth. She was on her way to Die Pumpe for some event. She told me that in America she had seen 99cent stores and never thought such a thing could ever appear in Germany. I walked back to Die Pumpe with her. I found Karsten giving directions and Ruben climbing around the machinery. They still didn’t need me. I went to the event in the upstairs theater. It was a presentation and workshop on digital distribution of films through the company First Motion which included The Baltic Universe. Two guys, one from Germany and the other from Norway, were doing the presentation. The German started and asked if anyone wanted it in English. I said I did. I should have stopped there but continued it would be nice in American. I then said I was the interloper and German was fine, which it was. I could follow the demonstration because it included a power point demonstration that was in English. The Norwegian man then demonstrated the website. He started in German but gave up as his English was better. The website was in English. The Baltic Universe were the countries connected by the Baltic Sea including Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Estonia and some others, but not Finland. First Motion helps in making both short films feature length projects. A couple of clips were shown of completed works. One was by the small Swedish animation company Larger Than Live that found a cheaper way to do computer stop motion. Their clip was a scene between a space jockey pilot and an android sort of guy in conversation as they walked through a spaceport hanger. The writing was uninspired. The other demonstration was from a project called 15 Young by Young. That would be works from the former members of the Soviet Union that were now Republics. Two cartoons were shown based on a request for stories from the Soviet days. One was about bomb drills which included gas masks in the 1970’s and the other about the status symbol of eating a banana. The animation was similar in both. Both were more interesting than the Larger Than Live clip, which I would guess was because they started with story first instead of technology. Then a local film maker, Stefan Gieren, gave a talk about his completed feature Superhero Blog that was helped by funding through First Motion. The first ten minutes of it was shown. It was about a young geeky guy who went to New York to study to be a super hero. It looked like it could be amusing. A short Q and A followed but was cut short by the need for the theater to be emptied for the next show.

Right after that was a meet and greet for film makers that included refreshments. There was plenty of wine and beer. There was also a tasty vegtable soup, but no bread. I was told the bread had gotten burned. Karsten and Ruben joined in the scrum. Then we went back downstairs and worked on the installation till nine. We then called it a day. Back at the house we each had a beer and then Ruben pedaled off and I went to bed.

March 25

I got up at 7:00 and Karsten appeared later. The installation would go live that evening when the festival started at 7:30. That allowed a leisurely breakfast before getting to work. I decided to recheck the Bauer projectors to see if one more might be usable. I really didn’t trust the one ancient Siemens that Karsten particularly liked for it aesthetic appeal. His telling me other had gone up in smoke might have colored my oppinion. The Bauers looked modern by our standards, for anyone else they would look exotic. I found one that ran fine. I set it up and let it run to see if had endurance. It quit after an hour. Too bad. We drove over to the Die Pumpe. Ruben would not be there. He had a job and two kids. We worked on the finishing touches of the intallation which mostly was putting the loops into the projectors. I guess some explanation here is needed. Projectors normally run film from a feed reel to take up reel. For this sort of installation you don’t use reels. You select a few feet of film and load it through the projector and then splice the ends to form a loop. When it runs the the film just flops along finding its own route and as long as it doesn’t hang up on something will run for hours that way.

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For Karsten’s plan we ended up with a surplus16mm projector. That is because Karsten is primarily interested in 8mm. I became intrigued by the idea of projecting directly onto the equipment instead of onto a frame. I found a spot about two feet square that would take an image. I got a loop going on it. I then noticed a round surface nearby. I was an empty clock face on its own metel stand. It had probably once been a gauge. Now it was an inscrutable gray face set slightly inside a round frame a little smaller than a dinner plate. I put the loop image on it and it looked cool. It was a 70’s scene of a parade where a float sponsored by Autoland passes by with girls throwing candy to the crowd. A matronly lady walks out to the float to have some handed to her. Younger people scramble for what has fallen on the pavement. One girl is wearing a red and white cheer leader outfit. Karsten liked the idea but thought 16mm was overkill for such a small screen. He put an 8mm projector in its place and said we could keep the 16mm aside in case anything else in the installation failed completely. The 8mm loop had three scenes. One was a family posing for a picture in front of a house with a kid running in to join. That 8mm projector didn’t run well in forward but did fine in reverse. Now the young kid jumped backwards away from the goup. With the less bright 8mm light there was an eerie quality as though the people looking out were somehow trapped in the machine.

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It was now about five in the afternoon. Claudia Schmidt appeared and asked if we were hungry. She works for the Kiel Film Workshop and was also on the festival team. I had met her previously. The restaurant had set up long tables on the far side of the machinary for the opening night party and had brought in food, beer and wine. Claudia dished up soup for us and we ate at a big round table in the back. Claudia asked me if I had a driver’s license. I thought that odd, but said sure, although I didn’t know if an Oregon driver’s licence was good in Germany. She guessed it was. I then found out that Karsten would be going back to Breman the next day and I would be in charge of the installation for the next two nights and also be in charge of dismantling it and taking it back to the house. Claudia was volunteering her car for that job. She warned me that sometimes her car, a VW Golf Combi, didn’t like to start but she doubted it would happen on our short errand. I said that was fine and that made everyone happy. The other plan would have been taking down the installation and storing all the stuff somewhere on the premises until Karsten could come get it later.

At 7:00 the doors were opened and we fired up the projectors. The installation involved 3 8mm projectors, 2 16mm projectors, two fixed slide projectors, and one carousel projector. The number one 16mm had a scene of a parade with a group of marching men. One takes a drink out of a beer bottle as the group passes. That screen was at the top of the big fly wheel. An 8m projector was also projecting onto the corner of that screen a scene at an outdoor swimming pool. The number two 16mm had black and white footage of a man, and then a woman, being interviewed on the street. That screen was in the back between the two big holding tanks. The carousel projector was back projecting onto a screen resting on the big belt that ran from the motor over the fly wheeel. It put the slide images right where everyone passed by on the way into the auditorium. It had 72 slides which advanced automatically every five seconds.

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I was given a festival badge. At 7:30 we all went into the auditorium for the opening night film. The auditorium was a big multi-purpose room. It was not quite the size of an airplane hanger. There was tiered seating on risers with indivdiual Eames chairs with thinly padded seats. There was seating for more than two hundred. All screenings would be digital onto a screen about thirty feet wide. In front of that was a stage which had a podium in the middle and was flanked on each side by big baskets of hydrangea flowers on pedestal stands. Before film rolled there were speeches. Everything was in German. Bernd-Gunther Nahm was the master of ceremonies and spoke first. He was a nice man with gray hair and a ready smile who was in charge of the Kiel film workshop and who would be retiring this year. He then then gave the podium to the owner of Die Pumpe, an affable man who up to then I had thought was just a guy hanging out who really liked the installation. The next speaker was the governor of Shleswig-Holstein. I don’t understand German but I can recognize a stem winder speech from a politician when I hear one. He really talked a long time. I think he mentioned every film in the festival. He was followed by a woman who was the Mayor of Kiel. Karsten was seated beside me and whispered that she spoke German with a Danish accent. Yes, it was noticeable, although I probably would have thought it Swedish if not set right. She was wearing a sedately wild jacket that looked like it had magicians symbols on it for decoration.It reminded me of a wild sportcoat Ian Whitcomb wore in the seventies when performing. She also gave a lengthy talk and also seemed to mention many specific films. She was followed by another woman, this one head of a government arts council for Schleswig-Holstein. She didn’t speak as long as the others. She was wearing a skirt made of similar material to that of the previous speaker’s jacket. Magic symbols on maroon cloth must be the in thing this spring.

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At last the lights dimmed and the opening film rolled. It was a short called Zero Action, which was exactly what happened. It really was a curious thing. The music was obviously from an LP, and not one in pristine condition, The film was all unconnected shots, most used more than once, of the moon, a jelly fish swimming, a white horse, a stormy night, a house in a forest, the sea, and a pretty girl reading a book. There was no plot. It might have once been called a “Tone Poem.” Thankfully it was just five minutes long. It brought to mind the National Film Board anti-smoking film Ashes of Doom except it had no resolution or punch line. If it had had some wit and humor it might have been like George Kuchar’s Wild Night at El Reno. What it was, was a puzzlement. I sure hoped it wasn’t an example of the best of the festival. The film maker was brought on stage. He was a 70 year old man and sort of the grand old man of Kiel film making. He unapologetically considered his film art and if you didn’t care for it that was your loss. Or at least that how Karsten translated it for me.

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The film that followed was a documentary feature about a man named Paul Gratzik who had been an artist and writer, who was also involved in German theater, and all the time had been a spy for the Staatsi. He had only recently come out in the open and confessed his secrets. The film maker had interviewed him at length and also many who had been involved with him who had no idea he was spying on them. Even in German, with an occasional Karsten translation of pertinent info, it was enjoyable. It was a very well made film. The title was Vaterlandsverrater, or Traitor to the Home Land.

After that it was time to have soup and bread and cheese. The soup, at least the non-vegetarian one I had ,was a white chowder with sausage. Added from the side were tiny little crabs. It was very tasty. The dessert was a sort of cherry jam with heavy cream. That too was good. There was also Becks Beer. We stayed to keep the installation going until most people had left. The only glitch was that the Siemens projector was running hot and blew out a lamp after a few hours running. There were only two more spares for it. Everything worked when it was cranked up at 7:00 and was still working when we shut it down at midnight.  Then it was the drive home and sleep, to knit up the ravell’d sleeve of care.