Documentaries

And Heimat – Again and Again

Culture documentary, 43 mins, BR, 2020

 

‘Heimat’, or the idea of a homeland, was long frowned upon in Germany. But now it’s back in fashion. What does this revival of an outdated yearning for the homeland say about us? And what’s behind our rekindled desire for security and nature? 

 A hundred years after the death of the famous homeland novelist Ludwig Ganghofer (1827–1920), this film sets out to offer a philosophical yet humorous take on the thorny issue of ‘Heimat’.




Hilma af Klint – An Artist Ahead of her Time

A portrait, 30 mins

arte TV, 2019

 

The Swedish artist Hilma af Klint had felt guided by higher spirits ever since her youth. During a séance in 1904, they assigned her to create paintings for a temple. A good one-hundred years later, in 2018, this vision seems to be mysteriously fulfilled – by a major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.



Bitches and Elves – New Women of the Countryside

Culture documentary, 43 mins, BR, 2019

 

The urban exodus is a trend, especially among creative women. Artists who take the plunge and relocate to the countryside are perceived differently – admired and mistrusted in equal measure. This is a film about pioneers who explore how far urbanity and modern zeitgeist can actually be reconciled with village life. 



Sanatorium Europa – The Writers’ Refuge

Culture documentary, 60 mins, arte TV, 2017

 

Before and during the First World War, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse and other great minds would retreat to sanatoriums to recover from their nervous disorders. During their stay, the notorious loners would get talking.This film explores how the great poets and thinkers reacted to the first European crisis, and what parallels there might be with to today. 



Anita Albus – Beauty and Austerity

Portrait, 45 mins

BR, 2015

 

Anita Albus paints flowers, birds and insects, unfazed by the fads of the art world. She once spent several weeks working on a single butterfly wing in her castle in Burgundy. Her stringent mind meets her finely tuned sense of perception. 



The Art of Idiosyncrasy

Documentary, 60 mins, arte TV, 2013

 

Their works are charged with secret messages that are both fascinating and bemusing, and yearn to be deciphered. Julia Benkert travelled America, Japan and Europe to visit six outstanding masters – Pascal Tassini, George Widener and Yayoi Kusama among them – whose mental worlds have brought forth their idiosyncratic art.



Saraceno and the Cloud Cities

Documentary, 30 mins, 

arte TV, 2012

 

Floating, light and weightless, preferably above the clouds. Such is the great utopia of Tomás Saraceno. The artist, architect, researcher and visionary builds cities from transparent modules, seeking to access the space between heaven and earth.



Romy Schneider – A Close-up

Portrait, 30/45 mins

ARD, 2009

 

It’s as if she were letting us see into the depths of her soul. Her eyes seem to keep a secret we can’t get enough of. Romy Schneider was never just an actress; she surrendered herself completely to her roles, dangerously blurring reality and fiction.



Amen! Art and its Homesickness for God

Documentary, 60 mins, arte TV, 2009

 

Why are there so many exhibitions on sacred art? This film focuses on artists such as Christian Boltanski, Hermann Nitsch and Bill Viola, who have long been tracking the religious and its dark side. It also questions what drives younger artists, especially, to photograph Lolita-like Madonnas, place rockets in churches or forge crowns of thorns from iron. 



Jonathan Meese – Germany, Your Artists

Documentary, 45 mins

ARD, 2008

 

Jonathan Meese is a cult figure, gesamtkunstwerk, enfant terrible and world redeemer. His dark and furious art universe defies every format. He paints, draws, builds stage sets and sculptures, acts in the theatre, writes manifestos, performs and – shops manically for art supplies!



Cornelia Schleime

Portrait, 45 mins, BR, 2008

 

Living in the former German Democratic Republic, Cornelia Schleime was spied on for years – by her best friend, the poet Sascha Anderson. She found out when the Stasi files were made publicly accessible and was horrified by what she learned. But then she turned her betrayal into art.



Life on the Obersalzberg

Documentary, 45 mins, BR, 2006

 

They yearn for normality but remain captives of the past. People who live on the Obersalzberg live on Hitler’s Olympus, where perpetrators once lived. Hitler resided in the Alpine idyll for more than twenty years, dictating part of Mein Kampf there and making it his second seat of government. But how do those who live there now deal with such a sensitive heritage? And what about the new mountain resort that’s due to open there shortly?



Patrick Süskind – Fragrance and Distance

Documentary, 45 mins

BR 2006

 

Patrick Süskind was very nearly forgotten, but when Perfume hit the cinemas, in 2006, the phantom returned to the public consciousness. The bestselling author still refuses to be interviewed, and even his friends are sworn to secrecy. A sophisticated cinematic search for clues…



The Wittelsbachs – Kings Under the

Report, 30 mins

BR, 2004

 

They call themselves the Wittelsbachs – after the Bavarian royal family, or the bridge they live under. But only those who manage to live under arch three become a part of the legend. It’s the least comfortable arch but has the most passers-by. The fight for power and recognition is just as tough there as anywhere else in society.



Mon amour – ton amour

Autobiographical documentary, 30 mins

arte TV, 1997

 

On love and the impossibility of reconciling vocation, the desire for a child, and a long-distance relationship.


Free projects

Free to Roam

A collage of soundbites, 8 mins, 2020

The key question at the three-day Auswildern symposium by the Nantesbuch Foundation in 2020 was how valuable will nature and art be to the society of tomorrow?

This film condenses the essence of the different standpoints to create an independent contribution.   



Whispers from the Heavens

Book presentation, 5 mins, 2015

 

Julia Benkert presents her debut novel, Whispers from the Heavens.



Sacred Heart Church

Architecture film, 2016, 2 mins

 

The Sacred Heart Church, built by Allmann Sattler Wappner, is a jewel of Munich architecture. This film shows its special dramaturgy, from the pattern of the crucifixion nails on the outer skin of the structure to the spectacular opening of the huge double doors. 

 



Picnic

Art video created with Veronika Veit, 3 mins, 2002

 

This film was an ironic commentary on the hype around Greenland. Presented at documenta 11, it shows a woman gathering pink eggs in fresh snow and eating them with great relish. 

 



2021 © Julia Benkert