Film banned in Russia as “porn” in the Berlinale competition

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“DAU. Natascha “is competing in the 70th Berlinale. In Russia, it is forbidden to rent this episode of the total work of art” DAU “- because of alleged propagation of pornography. The Russian director Ilja Chrschanowski made headlines in Germany in 2018 when he planned” DAU. Freedom ”failed at the Berlin Senate.

Whether it was a dispute with the prominent screenwriter, the financing was irritating, or it was about failed approvals: The film project “DAU” by the Russian artist Ilja Chrschanowski has appeared regularly in the Gazette since 2008.

Experiment with artists, celebrities and prostitutes

The major project “DAU” began as a biographical drama about the life of the Soviet physicist Lew Landau (1908 to 1968) during the Stalin era and was set up in the 1938-1968s. Nobel laureate Landau, called Dau, worked on the hydrogen bomb, lived in “Wild Marriage”, and was imprisoned only to be released. Until recently, Landau was considered a victim of “Stalinist mania for persecution”. According to recent knowledge, he is said to have been an anti-Soviet activist.

The modern DAU by the Russian Chrschanowski over the course of 14 years, “partly cinematic, partly behavior-related” hundreds of participants from all over the world were involved, combining elements from film, theater, science, psychology, architecture and visual arts. In the meantime, 13 separate films and series have been cut from more than 700 hours of film material. In 2008 three years of shooting started in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov. On a 12,000 square meter screened film set, 400 people, in front of hundreds of partly hidden cameras, were equipped with over 400,000 costumes in a virtual Soviet reality in the “institute”. The model was the Moscow Institute for Physical Problems, on which the highly decorated pride of Soviet science Dau worked.

“It is a complex and fascinating world that must be seen and lived,” said the makers. The USSR itself as a reference is even superfluous: it is just a mirror in which everyone can discover themselves, according to the producer Martine d’Anglejan-Chatillon in the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”.

The ranks of DAU’s supporters initially reads like a “who’s who” of the art world: conductor Teodor Currentzis plays the main role. Performance artist Marina Abramović, the actors Gerard Depardieu, Lars Eidinger, Valerie Tscheplanowa and Willem Dafoe as well as director Peter Sellars were more or less involved. There were accompanying concerts by Brian Eno, lectures by Jonathan Littell (“The Well-Wanted”).

According to media reports, several escort and porn actresses have been cast successfully. They were allowed to play themselves. In any case, Maxim Martsinkewitsch also got a major role. Martsinkewitsch is considered the head of the Russian neo-Nazi scene.

Pornographic material – and “strong nerves”

With “DAU. Natascha ”by Chrschanowski and Jekaterina Oertel, an episode of the mammoth project DAU, which is forbidden in Russia, is now part of the competition program for the 70th Berlinale Berlinale, which begins on February 20.

The film must not be shown publicly in Russia. At the end of November 2019, the Russian Ministry of Culture, one of the sponsors of the large-scale project, which was estimated at $ 10 million, refused to rent some episodes of “DAU” throughout Russia: four parts of a total of ten were used as pornography material for public screenings blocked, The consequences that are prohibited for rental in Russia include “DAU. Natascha “,” DAU. Der neue Mensch “,” DAU. Nora Sohn ”with explicit incestuous scenes and“ DAU. Sascha Walera ”.

The episode that is now part of the Berlinale competition focuses on rape during a KGB interrogation. The license was not granted because of a film fragment in which a woman inserts a bottle of wine into the vagina, Russian media reports.

You need strong nerves for DAU, it was said on “Deutschlandfunk”, therefore FSK 18 applies.

Berlin can now DAU

The major DAU project celebrated its premiere in Paris last year. But originally DAU was supposed to be presented as a city installation in the German capital. From October to November 2018, Chrschanowski wanted to block part of the street Unter den Linden at the Kronprinzenpalais. There the fictitious Soviet world was to be created in a square made of concrete walls – as a replica of the Berlin Wall.

Anyone wishing to join the journey into a dictatorial system would have had to buy a visa for 35 to 150 euros and fill out a detailed questionnaire about themselves, including their sexual preferences (privacy is welcome!). At least that’s how it was practiced in the French capital – a happening with vodka, pelmeni and borscht. A “fiasco”, so the newspaper “Le Figaro” summed up the media coverage in France. It was only a “night club that disguised itself as an art installation”, the magazine “The Atlantic” was still very gracious: a party that left the feeling of being undesirable.

The makers may know the feeling: DAU has not been able to score in Berlin so far. The planned large-scale installation was simply not approved. There were concerns above all about road safety and fire protection. In addition, the venture, which was requested at very short notice, was also lacking documents such as the consent of the residents, according to the responsible Berlin authorities. Political aftermath passed.

Now, thanks to the Berlinale, Berlin can “still do DAU”, at least a little bit, and it is “forbidden”: besides the film “Natascha”, which is in competition for golden and silver bears, another part of the DAU series is shown at special shows – “Degeneration” is the title.

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