From Twelve Chairs (2004), dir. Ulrike Ottinger (image courtesy BAMPFA)

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) scheduled prolific German photographer and filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger as a guest for a programming series in the spring of 2020. Like so many other plans, this was waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eventually, BAMPFA was able to put together East Meets West, an extensive streaming program of Ottinger’s films, making them available for a nicely protracted period of time.

In her works, which often blend fiction and documentary elements, Ottinger explores milieus often ignored in mainstream cinema, such as the regions of the Bering Straight or the Siberian Taiga. Exile Shanghai (1997) looks at the Jewish community that once flourished in Shanghai. Twelve Chairs (2004) adapts a satirical 1920s Ukrainian play for the post-Soviet era. The bizarre epic Freak Orlando (1981) turns Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando into an anthology of tales based on history and folklore, all acted out with extravagant costuming.

Each film is available to rent to stream through BAMPFA. Individual titles can be rented for $12 each ($8 for BAMPFA members). The multi-part film Chamisso’s Shadow can be rented as a bundle for $22 ($18 for members).

Where: online via BAMPFA
When: through July 18

More info at BAMPFA

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Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.