Film Documents and Contemporary History:
Res publica – Democracy and The Masses 1918-2000
November 2, 2008
The title of the new chapter in the series Film Documents and Contemporary History is Res publica – Democracy and The Masses 1918-2000. The programme talks about public space – and how masses of people take possession of it. The ways in which cinema has documented mass demonstrations show us in detail how democracy "comes into the picture". Tensions are high when a system of representative democracy is being challenged by spontaneous (or choreographed) gatherings of “the people” as a sovereign force in public life. Based on three surviving film documents of the Austrian Republic's founding in October of 1918, the programme presents the structural characteristics, the dramaturgy and the filmic representations of public manifestations between 1918 and 2000. These range from the proclamation of the Republic to demonstrations of the various political groupings in the First Republic and to videotapes of the anti-government protests in February, 2000. The focus is on the reciprocal relationship between the masses, urban space and film.