Impakt Festival Utrecht: Capitalism Catch-22
30 October – 3 November 2013

Crude Economy
A film program curated by Florian Wüst


Crude Economy revolves around the social and economic transformations in the 20th and early 21st century. The selected films—ranging from experimental cinema and video art to documentary, industrial and educational films—look at the processes of industrialization and modernization, with a special focus on the reconstruction of Western Europe after World War II. The media campaigns that accompanied the American Marshall Plan not only presented the success of the extensive aid program, but promoted the increase in productivity and trade as prerequisites for growth and prosperity for all.

The premises of neo-liberalism that prevailed under the patronage of the state are a second topic. The shift of power from labour to capital—as David Harvey points out—was crucial for the centralization of wealth through the evolution of today's global financial system. Capital is not a ‘thing’ but a process in which money perpetually searches for more money. All capital circulation is highly speculative, and eludes purely rational comprehension. Excessive risk-taking and lack of responsibility towards a common good appears intrinsic to cyber capital. In the financial crisis of 2008, above all else the privatizing of profits and the socializing of losses showed the dominance of the banking sector over governments and people.

Besides discussing the ambivalence of our ways to work, make money, trade assets and consume, Crude Economy reflects on practices of resistance against the uneven distribution of wealth and opportunities, and the exploitation of human and natural resources which threatens to disintegrate societies all over the world.

31 October 2013, 19:00

Coal for Life

Die Börsenkönigin, Edmund Edel, 1916

The mining and processing of coal was a major motor for economic progress in Europe. It not only propelled the modernization of life in the industrial age, but shaped the identity of whole communities and towns, landscapes and regions. The program which features some classics of the silent film era relates the heyday and fall of the European mining industry, to the theme of crisis and speculation.

A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner, Kineto Production Company, UK 1910, 9'
Die Börsenkönigin, Edmund Edel, DE 1916, 52'
Inflation, Hans Richter, DE 1928, 3'
Last Men Standing, Sasha Maja Djurkovic, UK 2005, 17'

1 November 2013, 17:00

Free To Choose

That capitalists seek the disengagement of the state from free market operations might be a common misunderstanding. On the contrary, corporations need the state to set rules and conditions in their favour. Large public commissions are a safe business. The number of lobbyists bustling around the offices of parliamentarians and functionaries in Washington or Brussels shows this mix of public and private interest. The program reflects on the notions of efficiency and optimization, and asks how much citizens and consumers nowadays are "free to choose"—if they want so.

Marketing, Pierre Long, FR/UK 1953, 17'
Free To Choose, Vol. 1 – The Power of the Market: The Pencil, Milton Friedman, US 1980, 2'30''
Lobbyists, Libia Castro, Ólafur Ólafsson, NL 2009, 19'
Kopfende Haßloch, Jürgen Brügger, Jörg Haaßengier, DE 2006, 37'

1 November 2013, 19:00

Trading Places

The hustle and bustle of an old marketplace in the heart of the city conveys a strong sense of materiality. Money is traded for tangible commodities: food, fabrics, household goods. Even the floor of the traditional stock exchange, with brokers waving and shouting, functions as a physical reference to the virtual trading of assets. Today this is mostly done by computers, buying and selling counted in nanoseconds. Labour is a commodity too; it has a price. Often this price is too low to even cover the costs of living. Through a mix of international experimental films, Trading Places addresses the social realities of modern urban economy.

Arrival, Mani Kaul, IN 1980, 19'
Ilha das Flores, Jorge Furtado, BR 1989, 13'
Una Ciudad En Una Ciudad, cylixe, DE 2013, 18'
unsupported transit, Zachary Formwalt, NL 2011, 14'
Paradise Later, Ascan Breuer, AT/DE/ID 2010, 13'

2 November 2013, 19:00

Magic of Markets

Hands, Ralph Steiner, Willard Van Dyke, 1934

In economics the metaphor of the "invisible hand" describes the self-regulating behaviour of the marketplace. The recent financial and economic crises have not been the least of factors which have shaken this idea of markets automatically channelling self-interest toward a collective benefit. But the gamble of turning leveraged risk into profit continues. Magic of Markets takes the image of disembodied human hands as a loose narrative thread to discuss the relationship between the stock market and the real world.

Hands, Ralph Steiner, Willard Van Dyke, US 1934, 4'
Nieuwe Gronden, Joris Ivens, NL 1934, 28'
David Harvey: The Crises of Capitalism, RSA Animate, UK 2011, 11'
Fictions and Futures #1 – Happiness in the Abstract, Arne Hector, Minze Tummescheit, DE 2013, 35'

3 November 2013, 15:00

History of Progress

Great hopes for a better future fuelled the first decades after the end of World War II. Under capitalist premises, technical and scientific innovation helped to create unprecedented wealth and well-being, if not for all, at least for many in the West. The increasing automation of industrial production, however, caused the loss of jobs, human labour was largely replaced by machines or moved to other parts of the world where lower wages allowed higher profits. This selection of experimental and documentary films reflects on the many flip sides of economic progress.

Men and Machines, Diana Pine, UK 1951, 17'
I am 20, S.N.S. Sastry, IN 1967, 14'
Foreigners, Part 1: Ships and Guns, Peter Nestler, SE 1977, 44'
The Shutdown, Adam Stafford, UK 2009, 10'

3 November 2013, 17:00

Risks and Benefits

The Anarchist Banker, Jan Peter Hammer, 2010

The two films in this program deal with issues of finance and innovation, corporate leadership and morality. Although different in style, both films focus closely on their subjects in order to reveal capitalist competition as a great psychological theatre: Well-dressed men, sweat above their eyebrows, in tough discussions around a table.

Nicht ohne Risiko, Harun Farocki, DE 2004, 52'
The Anarchist Banker, Jan Peter Hammer, DE 2010, 30'

3 November 2013, 19:00

Creative Change

The Shoemaker and the Hatter, John Halas & Joy Batchelor, 1950

Neo-liberalism has entailed the large-scale privatization of public services and property. Today local water supplies, for instance, are being bought back from corporate owners at high costs. Community gardening is becoming a more and more popular way to claim urban spaces for non-commercial use. Are we seeing the advent of a new social understanding that resists economy as the sole measure of things? Or is this just another incentive for rising real estate values? Creative Change looks at accelerated globalization and commercialization, and its shifting effects on human and natural environments.

The Shoemaker and the Hatter, John Halas & Joy Batchelor, UK 1950, 16'
Shell Spirit, Geoffrey Jones, UK 1963, 2'
Tatort Fraport, David Ruf, DE 2009, 25'
The Residence (A wager for the afterlife), Vermeir & Heiremans, BE 2012, 37'