What is experimental about this film? Only its images? Or the complexity of its materials, its production conditions and ultimately its digitisation and restoration?

Experimental films pose a challenge for film restorers on several levels. Original film elements are likely to be in critical condition due to their unconventional production and duplication history. Films tend to exist in different versions as a result of repeated, undocumented revisions. Prints raise more questions than they give answers when we search for the original look of a film, and often are useless as a reference for the digital colour grading process. And then – the filmmakers may come in! After their initial scepticism of transferring their analogue works into the digital domain, they quickly grasp the seemingly endless possibilities of this new technology. Thus, in restoration projects, archival practices sometimes collide with the wishes and ideas of the creators who suddenly see their works in a whole new light. Frame by frame, in digital projection, open to all options. Restorers – be prepared!

Julia Wallmüller
Film Restorer
Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin, Germany

Julia Wallmüller is a graduate film restorer. Since completing her studies at HTW Berlin in 2006, she has worked independently on numerous practical, theoretical and academic projects in the field of digital film restoration. Her particular focus has always been on dealing with ethical and aesthetic issues in film restoration. In 2010 she joined the Deutsche Kinemathek, where she has restored over 80 films in the last 8 years. She currently leads the team of restorers within the project Digitization of national film heritage (FFE).

Leade image: Still from of ALASKA by Dore O. (BRD 1968/1969) Restoration Deutsche Kinemathek, 2018