On 17 August 2022 the former chairperson of the DEFA Foundation Ralf Schenk passed away in Berlin. He was a member of the board of the European Joris Ivens Foundation from 2012 to 2015. After a study in journalism at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig he proved himself quickly as a very erudite filmjournalist, among other through his contributions to the important East-German periodical Film und Fernsehen. After the fall of the Wall he broadened his scope to book publications on the history of DEFA, television programmes, interviews with veterans of the German film world, columns in the daily Berliner Zeitung and inlays for DVD-editions.
One of the priorities of his time as director of the DEFA Foundation (2012-2020) was to bring back under the attention the films that Joris Ivens had made in the 1950s for the DEFA. This resulted in two DVD-editions: Lied der Ströme (2015) and Joris Ivens DEFA-dokumentarfilme (2018). Most importantly he was the driving force behind the publication of the comprehensive study by Günter Jordan of the DEFA-years of Ivens. When Marceline Loridan objected to its publication, because she was unable to read the manuscript in the German language, Ralf organised a trip to 61 rue des Saints Pères, where Günter Jordan with the help of a qualified interpreter convinced her of the quality of his work. The elaborate book was published as Unbekannter Ivens (Unknown Ivens, 2018) and formed an essential contributions to the body of Ivens-studies.
In 2020 he retired, cherishing a great number of plans as to what he was going to research and write about during the coming years. His first project was a book about the Bulgarian-German film director Slatan Dudow, the maker of Kuhle Wampe, who was killed in a car crash in the GDR in 1963. A brain tumor prevented Ralf from realising this and many other plans.
We remember Ralf Schenk with enormous gratitude.
Bert Hogenkamp, 26 August 2022, Amsterdam.
Publications by Ralf Schenk and Günter Jordan related to Joris Ivens and the DEFA Studios.
On Monday July 25th the Vietnamese Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr.Nguyen Van Hung, opened an exhibition in the Quang Tri Mine Action Centre (QTMAC) and Restoring the Environment and Neutralizing the effects of the War (RENEW). about Joris Ivens and the Medical Committee The Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV). The Ivens Foundation in close collaboration with the Vietnam Film Institute created the panels about the relationship of Joris Ivens and Marceline Loridan-Ivens with Vietnam between 1965 and 1970. Their support of the liberation struggle resulted in four films, of which Le 17e parallele was filmed in Quang Tri.
Recently a citizen from Montpellier travelled 1200 kilometres to visit the Joris Ivens Archives in order to find his biological father. There are many reasons why people around the world consult the Ivens collection, but this is a very special and personal one. He wanted to look for his father, which he has never known and met, in Ivens’ documentary Peace Will Win (1951)
The Indonesian Diaspora Network Victoria is organizing an exhibition in the Immigration Museum in Melbourne about the international solidarity movement in Australia after the Proclamation of Indonesia's Independence, that united the communities of Indonesians, together with the local Australians, Indians and Chinese that we should celebrate. One of the activities during the weekend of 27-29th of May is the film screening of Indonesia Calling (1946) directed by Joris Ivens, which explores the refusal of seamen and waterside workers to man Dutch ships containing arms and ammunition for attack on Indonesia.
Why The Netherlands has so may outstanding painters and documentary filmmakers? German film historian Thomas Tode attempts – following previous authors - to provide an answer in a recent article. According to Tode it was Joris Ivens who was leading the way in depicting the elements of nature, like the famous Dutch Light, the wind or water in all its guises: rivers, rain and clouds.
After years of preparations and research, professor Zhang Tongdao (University of Beijing) and Dutch filmmaker René Seegers finalized their four-part television series about Joris Ivens. In each part of 50 minutes one of Ivens’s Chinese films is key: 1- The 400 Million (1938); 2- Before Spring (1958); 3- How Yukong Moved the Mountains (1976) and 4- A Tale of the Wind (1988).
In 1951 Joris Ivens met Pablo Picasso during a visit to his atelier in Vaucluses. Marion Michelle made a series of photos of them, together with poet Jacques Prévert, which are on display at the exhibition about 'Picasso: Shared and Divided' in Museum Ludwig, Cologne (25 September 2021-30 January 2022). After the Second World War Picasso was 'a hero of the left' and used in this way. His dove, symbol for world peace, became a tool for propaganda in the Eastern Bloc. What do we associate with Pablo Picasso today? And what associations with him did the divided German people have in mind during the post-war years, when he was at the height of his fame?