The name Walter Ruttmann recalls enthralling and controversial contexts. A pioneer of experimental film, whose Berlin: Symphony of a Great City is still seen as the quintessential urban documentary of the 1920s, Ruttmann also worked extensively in advertising and other commissioned film genres throughout the 1920s and 30s. The first monograph on Ruttmann in English, Cowan's study examines this broader body of films and their institutional contexts, detailing the ideological and aesthetic shifts between Ruttmann's experimental animation, montage works and later propaganda. In the process, it attempts to rethink our understanding of early experimental film and its relation to "useful" cinema. The roundtable will be preceded by a screening of rare short films.
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