The Contexts of Climate Change
Glaciers, Nuclear Power & Documentary Film in Europe
Helen Hughes, University of Surrey
November 6–7, 2017
20 N. Main Street, Gainesville, FL
Peak (Germany, 2011), directed by Hannes Lang
Screening of the film & discussion
November 6, 6:00 PM
Under Control (Germany, 2011), directed by Volker Sattel
Screening of the film & discussion
November 7, 6:00 PM
About the Films
Peak (Germany, 2011, 86 mins.)
Skiing! One of the most popular leisure activities in the winter: perfect powder snow, sound, mountains, fresh air and après ski. Over the course of one year Hannes Lang’s Peak follows the building and production processes around winter tourism in the Alps and unveils what is otherwise hidden under a thick blanket of artificial snow. The film shows the modification of whole areas and the traces left behind by these human-made interventions. Peak challenges the relation between nature and technology. How artificial can a region be, or how artificial does it have to be in order to satisfy our vocational desires for fun and recreation?
Under Control (Germany, 2011, 98 mins.)
Volker Sattel’s Under Control is a tour of the nuclear industry in Germany and Austria: active and disused nuclear power stations, training facilities, the International Atomic Energy Agency, an institute for risk research, the Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology, a permanent repository for radioactive waste. The images are breathtaking: a fuel rod is slowly accompanied by the camera; countless brightly blinking lights on the control room panels like in the cockpit of a spaceship; a long journey into the depths of a storage shaft; a giant vertical swing in the cooling tower of the fast breeder reactor in Kalkar, which never went into operation; monumental domes and desolate ruins. These images bear witness to fascination and menace, tragedy and risk in equal measure. A cross between science fiction and an industrial film, Under Control is an idiosyncratic examination of a dangerous technology, an insight into a hermetic world. Most of all it is a film about the aesthetics of one of the 20th century’s distinctive technologies and its spaces.
About the Speaker & Discussants
Helen Hughes is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Surrey. She is the author of a monograph Green Documentary (2014) responding to the flood of new documentaries on environmental topics that came out in the first decade of the new millennium. She is now writing a second book, Radioactive Documentary, exploring current documentaries on the future of nuclear energy. An archival project looking at the history of UK and German nuclear power stations on film has been awarded funding by the British Academy. She has also published a number of journal articles and chapters on West German cinema, experimental film, Kafka adaptations, GDR and new Austrian cinema. She co-edited Deutschland im Spiegel seiner Filme (2000) and translated Alexander Kluge’s Cinema Stories (2007) with Martin Brady. Another book, Documentary and Disability (2017), co-edited with Catalin Brylla, has just been published.
Barbara Mennel is Associate Professor of English and German at the University of Florida and Interim Director of UF’s Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere. She is author of The Representation of Masochism and Queer Desire in Film and Literature (2007), Cities and Cinema (2008), and Queer Cinema: Schoolgirls, Vampires, and Gay Cowboys (2012). With Jaimey Fisher she edited the volume Spatial Turns: Space, Place, and Mobility in German Literature and Visual Culture (2010) and with Sabine Hake she edited the collection Turkish German Cinema in the New Millennium: Sites, Sounds, and Screens ( 2012). She has published in Camera Obscura, Germanic Review, Modern Austrian Literature, New German Critique, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Studies in Twentieth Century Literature, Women in German Yearbook, and TRANSIT: A Journal of Travel, Migration and Multiculturalism in the German-Speaking World. Dr. Mennel will take part in Monday night’s discussion of Hannes Lang’s Peak.
Michael Schuering is DAAD Scholar in the University of Florida’s Center for European Studies. He has worked at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the Institute for the History of Science and Technology at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. From 2006 to 2011 he taught at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published on the history of science and technology, environmental history, and the history of refugee scholars expelled from Nazi Germany. His most recent book is “Bekennen gegen den Atomstaat“. Die evangelischen Kirchen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und die Konflikte um die Atomenergie (“Professing against the Atomic State.” The Protestant Churches in West Germany and the Conflicts Concerning Atomic Energy (2015). Dr. Schuering will take part in Tuesday night’s discussion of Volker Sattel’s Under Control.
“The Contexts of Climate Change” is sponsored by the UF Center for European Studies with the assistance of a Getting to Know Europe grant funded by the European Union Delegation to the United States of America. Additional support comes from the Department of English and the George A. Smathers Libraries. All ICC events are free and open to the public. No advance registration is required.
“The Contexts of Climate Change” poster by Madeline Gangnes