Lothar Lambert, 1 Berlin-Harlem, 1974, 16mm film, b&w, 100 minutes
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Rainer Werner Fassbinder makes his Dirty Looks debut—as a performer, alongside members of his acting stable Ingrid Caven, Günther Kaufmann, Brigitte Mira, Y Sa Lo, and Warhol star and cabaret artist Tally Brown—in 1 Berlin-Harlem, a queer, New German Cinema take on Blaxploitation and race fetishism from underground maverick Lothar Lambert, unseen on these shores for more than 25 years. In German and English, with English subtitles.
1 Berlin-Harlem tells the story of an African-American GI trying to make a new life in Berlin. A stinging satire of the fetishization of black men in German gay culture, the film includes scenes inside famed Berlin "black disco" the International and among the "Black Panther Solidarity Committee" of Berlin.
Each event is accompanied by Dirty Looks at MoMA: Mining the Collection, a reader featuring contributions by Abigail Child, Malik Gaines, Lia Gangitano, Ronald Gregg, James Hansen, David Everitt Howe, Wayne Koestenbaum, Priscilla Layne, Karl McCool, Eileen Myles, Bradford Nordeen, Luther Price and Lior Shamriz.
“Lothar Lambert is a maverick who has created a one-man school of Berlin filmmaking: the ‘no-budget’ film, also known as the ‘Kleenex’ movie, inexpensive enough to be dispensable but too tough to be disposable…. His cinema is inhabited by searchers, primarily but not exclusively homosexual, ingenuous and perplexed, who attempt with varying degrees of success to come to terms with their sexual and emotional longings. Lambert’s protagonists are basically good people who, in their confusion, do not quite lose their dignity; he never condescends to his characters or treats them as aberrant…. [In his films] the narrative really takes shape on the editing table where Lambert locates the real adventure in filmmaking. The first film Lambert edited himself was 1 Berlin-Harlem, a fiction around an American soldier whom he had earlier befriended and whom he asked to play the lead. With mock dispassion 1 Berlin-Harlem describes the dispiriting months between a black G.I.’s discharge and his reluctant return to the United States. Trying not to be diminished by the social, sexual and racial prejudices circumscribing him, he explodes in a rage that turns murderous. The narrative is refractory, but it does allow the G.I. a tour of marginal Berlin.” – Laurence Kardish, “Berlin and Film”