Crude Economy, the short film programmes of Capitalism Catch 22, curated by Florian Wüst, revolve around the social and economic transformations in the 20th and early 21st century. The selected films—ranging from experimental cinema and video art to documentary, industrial and educational films—look at the processes of industrialisation and modernisation, with a special focus on the reconstruction of Western Europe after World War II.
The film and media campaigns that accompanied the American Marshall Plan not only presented the success of the extensive aid programme, but promoted the increase in productivity and trade as prerequisites for growth and prosperity for all. Key to this was the idea of a unified Europe that helped to establish an anti-communist bloc under US leadership, a system of supranational institutions, a shared market, and the free movement of goods and people, services and labour. Historical and contemporary films are combined in order to critically expand on the current crises of capitalism and the eurozone.
Another topic is the ideology of neoliberalism and its rise in the 1970s and 80s under the patronage of the state. The shift of power from labour to capital —as anthropologist David Harvey points out— was crucial for the centralisation of wealth through the evolution of today’s global financial system. The excess of risk-taking and lack of responsibility towards the common good that seems instrinsic to cyber-capital culminated in the bank crash of 2008. “Privatising profits and socialising losses” —this phrase describes the periodic situation of virtual money losses touching down on social reality at large.
Alongside the reduction of expenditure quotas and the privatisation of public services, the deregulation of capital flows forms an essential part of neoliberal economics. Capital is not a thing but a process in which money perpetually searches for more money—through lending to others in return of interest, buying cheap and selling dear, collecting rent for land and properties, trading stocks and assets for a profit. All capital circulation is highly speculative; belief and anticipation play an important role. The magic of the stock exchange has been a recurrent theme in film. Cinema and stock speculation both elude from pure rational comprehension.
Besides discussing the ambivalence of our ways to exploit resources, do business, and consume, the film programme also reflects on alternative economic models and practices of resistance against the ever growing gap between rich and poor which threatens to disintegrate societies all over the world.
With films by, amongst others, cylixe, Edmund Edel, Zachary Formwalt, Jorge Furtado, Halas & Batchelor, Jan Peter Hammer, S.N.S. Sastry, Vermeir & Heiremans.
About Florian Wüst
Florian Wüst is an artist and independent film curator based in Berlin. He has been a regular contributor to the Impakt Festival. Besides curating film programmes for international venues, Wüst frequently writes and lectures about topics related to film and society. Together with Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, he is editor of Who says concrete doesn’t burn, have you tried? West Berlin Film in the ’80s (2008).