CONFERENCE notes on film 05

Hitler Dead or Alive (1942, directed by Nick Grinde) summed things up long ago: le moustache, c´est l´homme, at least in the world of images. That´s why the Allied hit squad doesn´t have to rub Hitler out — a close shave would be sufficient, and the Führer´s lackeys, unable to recognize Adolf H.´s bare face as that of their idol, would take care of the rest.
Adolf Hitler: The 20th century figure portrayed most often in film and on television is for many great actors a dream role, and for some, such as Bobby Watson and Fritz Diez, the supporting role of their life. That´s fitting for a statesman who had postcards made which showed him speaking to crowds in various poses. These images resembled portraits of stage and screen stars for theater lobby cards. Sixty-five actors portraying Hitler make an appearance in Conference. Notes on Film 05, but the original is never seen. However, one has the impression that a little bit of him is present in every one: A toothbrush moustache and side part are all that´s necessary. Or maybe not. All the Conference Hitlers are from after the 1940s, and Norbert Pfaffenbichler filmed them in Super 8 and black and white from a monitor so that they match.
Sixty-five Hitlers: He appears as if from the depths of space, the darkness, and then Erewhon, from beyond the frame. As if through certain gestures, routines and repetitions thereof, variants and variations, a narrative, an essay, a study is created of what´s characteristic about Hitler, and it spans decades. On the one hand this is thoroughly grotesque, because nothing from one Hitler to the next matches. For example, the patchwork Hitler suddenly turns into a crowd of Hitlers engaged in a torrent of debate. Just after that it seems as if we had been watching a film viewed by (still another) Hitler! On the other hand, Bernhard Lang´s music, by means of electronic hissing and pounding and the phrases looped into snags and stutters, is a reminder of all the things done in the name of this face. What´s the effect on the audience? "Stop! Stop!" can be heard in the prelude, when the final credits roll at the beginning.

(Olaf Möller)

Translation: Steve Wilder

In this grotesque found-footage-film close-ups of 65 actors playing Adolf Hitler in movies created between 1940 and today are combined in shot/countershot-manner. The soundtrack is produced by the Austrian composer Bernhard Lang.
No other historical figure of the 20th century was portrayed more often in movies and by so many different actors than Adolf Hitler. (Only Jesus Christ has more appearances in cinema´s history - but with a headstart of more than 50 years.) In this grotesque and uncanny identity parade Adolf Hitler is presented as an undead who is impersonated by an alarming number of revenants.
CONFERENCE is part five of my notes on film-series, which deals wtih filmtheoretical and -historical subjects. The movie is also part of a series of works about Charles Chaplin, which includes a number of installations and films.

(prod. note)

Orig. Title
CONFERENCE notes on film 05
8 min
Orig. Language
No Dialogue
Norbert Pfaffenbichler
Concept & Realization
Norbert Pfaffenbichler
Bernhard Lang
Barbara Wurm, Christoph Huber, Olaf Möller, C. B. Pfaffenbichler
Supported by
Wien Kultur, Land Oberösterreich, Innovative Film Austria
Available Formats
35 mm (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
Digital File (prores, h264)
Festivals (Selection)
Viennale - Vienna Int. Film Festival
Telluride - TIE International Experimental Film & Video Festival
Venezia - Mostra Internazionale d`Arte Cinematografica - Concorso Orizzonti
Jihlava Documentary Film Festival
Mar del Plata - Int. Film Festival
Paris - Rencontres International Paris/Berlin/Madrid
Paris - Festival des Cinemas Differents Collectif Jeune Cinema
Recife - Janela Internacional de Cinema (Best Sound)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Lissabon - Indielisboa Int. Film and Videofestival
Rotterdam - Int. Filmfestival
Bradford - International Film Festival
Linz - Crossing Europe Film Festival
Seoul - EXis (Experimental Film- & Videofestival) (Fuji Award International Competition)
Uppsala - Int. Short Film Festival
München - UnderDox, Festival für Dokument und Experiment
Braunschweig - Filmfest
Madrid - Semana de Cine Experimental (Jury Award: 2nd prize)
Braunschweig - Internationales Filmfestival
Belgrade - Alternative Film/Video Festival (Relevant Film)
Lima - Peru Int. Short Film Festival
Jeonju - International Film Festival
Vila do Conde - Festival Internacional de Curtas-Metragens
Wroclaw - New Horizons Festival
Teplice - Int. Art Film Festival Trencianske
Seattle - Int. Film Festival
Sarajevo - Int. Film Festival
Zagreb - 25fps Film & Video Festival (Grand Prix)
Praha Short Film Festival
Leuven - Short Film Festival
Regensburg - Kurzfilmwoche
Bradford - International Film Festival
Stuttgart - Filmwinter, Expanded Media Festival
Wroclaw - WRO-International Media Art Biennale
München - Nonfiktionale
Bologna - Il Cinema Ritrovato Film Festival
St.Petersburg - Message of Man Festival
Reykjavik - Punto y Raya Festival