Birgit Hein, Wilhelm Hein


Uncooked, raw, rough – Rohfilm wasn’t made in the industrial mould of Hollywood cinema, nor was it tenderised using the conventions of framing, editing and »suture«. On the contrary, its rawness verges on the unpalatable. In the late 1960s, a period in which avant-garde film-making – whether it was political or formal films – was turning away from the mainstream, the highly abstract so-called »structural« film came into being. Rohfilm consists of found footage material, film snippets that are ›unusable‹. A film consisting of frames, soundtracks, negative images, blurred images – and frequently recurring glimpses of Cologne Cathedral. A film under the microscope. A great film about dust. Christian Michelis’ distorted droning audio adds to the destructive atmosphere. Birgit Hein described Rohfilm as »highly aggressive«. The Austrian critic Hans Schleugl compared its »brutal, almost terror-like effect« to Peter Kubelka’s film Arnulf Rainer. Malcolm Le Grice called it »a kind of terrorism of cinema«. Even today, Rohfilm remains one of the first and most important films in post-war experimental film history.


Birgit Hein, Wilhelm Hein


Christian Michelis


W+B Hein – Wilhelm Hein, Birgit Hein


Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst

Portrait of Birgit Hein

Birgit Hein

Birgit Hein is one of Germany’s most important experimental film-makers. Along with Wilhelm Hein, she produced pioneering experimental films, performances and installations from 1966 to 1988. In 1968, she co-founded the experimental film series X-SCREEN in Cologne, enabling international experimental films to be shown in Germany. In 1971 she published Film im Underground. Hein curated one of the first film history exhibitions, Film als Film. 1910 bis heute (Kölnischer Kunstverein 1977). Her expertise in the history of avant-garde film was unrivalled at the time. She also made a major contribution to building networks in the structural film scene between the US, England, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. From 1990 to 2008, Hein was Professor of Film and Video at Braunschweig University of Art (HBK). She began making her own films in 1991. She was also a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin (Academy of Arts in Berlin) and deputy director of its Visual Arts Section.

Films by Birgit Hein (Selection)
Abstrakter Film 2013 | Kriegsbilder 2006 | La Moderna Poesia 2000 | Eintagsfliegen 1997 | Baby, I Will Make You Sweat 1994 | Die Unheimlichen Frauen 1991 | Die Kali-Filme 1987 | Verbotene Bilder 1986 | Love Stinks 1982 | Strukturelle Studien 1974 | 625 1969 | Rohfilm 1968