1. International Archaeology Film Festival
April 20th - 23rd, 1994


a.g. dok (Filmzeitschrift), November 1993

While in France, Belgium or Italy events of this kind are long embedded in a respective tradition, Germany may be called "virgin territory" in this respect: headed by our colleague from Kiel, Dr. Kurt Denzer, director of the "Arbeitsgruppe Film" at the Christian-Albrechts-University and himself author and director of various documentary films on the subject of Viking-excavations in the north of Europe, the first International Archaeology-Film-Festival CINARCHEA shall take place in Kiel from the 20th to 23rd of April 1994. Productions created during the previous four years have been invited to participate in the competition; at the same time, and in addition, there will be a retrospective of "classics" of the archaeological film. Part of the festival is a symposium on the subject "Archaeology and Film".

Old World Archaeology Newsletter (USA), Winter 1994

The First CINARCHEA International Archaeological Film Festival will be held in Kiel in the Schleswig-Holstein region of northwestern Germany on April 20-23, 1994.

The festival - whose director, scholar-filmmaker Kurt Denzer, heads the Arbeitsgruppe Film at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel - is designed to inform residents in the region about archaeology and to consider archaeological film as a genre. Retrospectives of award-winning films from European festivals held over the past twenty years and the history of archaeological film are planned, as well as a symposium and a selection of outstanding films produced in the last three years. A children`s film session may also be included.

The Archäologisches Landesmuseum associated with Christian-Albrechts-University and the renowned Viking-period Hedeby settlement site and its associated museum and conservation facility are among several convenient additional local attractions...

Filmbrief Nr. 25, Januar 1994

(Kulturelle Filmförderung Schleswig-Holstein e.V.)

CINARCHEA has been conceived as a scientifically well founded expert-festival which nonetheless addresses a broad audience by means of its popular character.

Since it is the first event of this kind in Kiel, there will be no limitation in respect of a special subject as, for example, a distinct cultural era; rather on the contrary the concept aims at giving an extensive insight into the world of the archaeological film, doing justice to all the different fields of research ( excavation, restoration, conservation, experimental archaeology, underwater- and aerial archaeology etc.) just as to the different genres of films (survey - films in respect to distinct eras, documentaries on research-projects, computeranimated reconstructions, etc.).

The competition shall give an overview of particularly remarkable films produced during the last four years... and at the same time will give more than just a glimpse into the latest scientific insights as result of archaeological research. Within the context of the competition several prizes will be awarded by an international jury, consisting of archaeologists, filmmakers and the organizers of other European Archaeology-Film-Festivals. The Großer Preis will be awarded to the best film of the festival. The Spezialpreis der Jury is designed as a special supporting prize to award a young author or a young team. Furthermore there will be special prizes for the following fields: Experimental Archaeology, Excavation Documentaries, Restauration and Conservation, Didactics and New Forms and Methods in Archaeology. On top of this a Publikumspreis (prize of the audience) is planned.

Two Retrospectives are dealing with productions from the earliest period of the archaeological film and introduce films which were awarded when they participated in European Festivals taking place during the last two decades; the Sonderprogramm ("special program") is dedicated to the subject "Children /Young people and Archaeology in the Medium Film". In close connection with the festival the organizers plan to put on show a "Best-of"- programme of specially selected festival contributions in several cinemas in Kiel and may be even send them "on tour".

Michaela Mundt

Kieler Nachrichten, 8. Januar 1994

International-Archaeology-Film-Festival" takes place in Kiel

The "Cave-Dwellers from Mustang" in the Museum of Art

"I am sure this one will work out fine", says Dr. Kurt Denzer and leans back relaxing in his office-chair. "Since 1986 I have been participating in archaeological film-festivals all around the world", he says. "This makes up for quite some experience." Enough experience... in order to now organize a festival of this sort himself. Together with his team of the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Film der Christian-Albrechts-Universität" he has been in a flap organizing this venture for months now. On the 20th of April to the 23rd the time has come: in the "Kieler Kunsthalle" the first and so far only "International Archaeology-Film-Festival" is going to take place. No other German city has ever organized a comparable event.

Participants and their contributions from all over Europe but just the same from America and Japan are being expected. Presentations, speeches, film-shows and a competition of films have been planned...

Already and day by day there are applications of films with archaeological subjects rolling in at the Kiel organizing team.

They are about the "Cave-Dwellers from Mustang", the "Valley of the 108 Fountains", about the "Catacombe: Scene of the Crime" or the "Stone-Age-Culture at the Euphrate".

The subjects cover a broad range and just as varied is the quality of the films themselves. Starting with utterly professional products which were also shown on television before down to purely amateur films, next to all is present.

Yet, it is not only a selection of new and still unknown films that shall be put on show during the Film-Festival. " There will be two retrospectives of already prize-awarded films", says Denzer. The whole event will estimately, according to the organizers, cost round about 140.000 DM. The main part comes from the AG Film and the co-organizers ("Freunde der Antike", "Kulturstiftung", "Unabhängige Landesanstalt für das Rundfunkwesen" and "Kieler Film Club"). On top one optimistically expects a funding of roughly 25 per cent from Brussels.

Just by the way: the Kiel team has won high international renown in the field of the archaeological film. More than 30 international prizes have been won by this university institute awarding their scientific filmic productions. Amongst others they produced five commissioned films for the Viking Museum Hedeby. All in all this miniature faculty employs Denzer plus three temporal team-members.

Tango 4/94 (Kiel City-Magazine)

TRY-OUT: Film-Festival Kiel

What difficulties may meet a team of archaeologists: this is the subject communicated, enriched with a large slice of humour and self-mockery , by "Les forges de Vulcain".

In the course of this international festival the best films will be honoured and awarded - as a matter of fact by a highly-qualified jury which also includes the "decipherer" of the Azteques-scriptures, Joaquin Galarza (Mexico).

Up to the last minute the organizers have to worry about the financing of "CINARCHEA".

Though the "Unabhängige Landesanstalt (ULR)" and the "Kulturstiftung S-H" do cover the lion`s share of the budget, it still was a rather sobering rejection by the EU-Commission that arrived only three weeks ago. "And this though all conditions for a financial support were met", says an annoyed Michaela Mundt and adds sarcastically:"Maybe Kiel is simply too far away from Brussels..." Hope remains that there will be sponsors capable of fast decisions to make up for the gap.

Nevertheless the organizers offer an extensive and substantial programme... From April 20 to 23 there will be three programmes daily put on show... Whether "CINARCHEA" will remain a unique event or be repeated regularly... this will have to be decided in respect to the overall success...

Kieler Nachrichten, 15. April 1994

New International Archaeology-Film-Festival in Kiel

Catacomb: Scene of Crime

"The Witness from the Glacier", "The Curse of the Pharao" and "Catacomb: Scene of Crime": the headlines of the films in competition promise suspense. Roughly 50 films from eleven countries have been selected out of the mass of applications by the director and filmmaker Kurt Denzer and organizer Michaela Mundt together with the team "Arbeitsgruppe Film der Kieler Universität".

The accompanying programme allows experts to meet in a symposium about "Archaeology and Film". On Sunday there will be an additional restrospective of prizewinning films of international festivals. In the evening at 8 p.m. Minister President President Heide Simonis shall hand over the "Großer Preis", the Special Prize of the Jury and the Prize of the Audience.

The preparations for "CINARCHEA", for which Kurt Denzer expects something in the range of 1800 visitors, took about one and a half year. This first of its sort festival`s costs of 90 000 Marks are covered by the "ULR", the "Kulturstiftung", the "Sparkassen Finanzgruppe" and the "Film Club Kiel".

Flensburger Tageblatt, 15. April 1994


The very first German film-prize for the best archaeological film shall be awarded at the "CINARCHEA", the international film festival on archaeology, in Kiel. There will be 50 foreign and German productions to select from by an international jury which then is to decide upon the "Kiel Oscar".

Kieler Nachrichten, 20. April 1994

Tonight is opening night for "CINARCHEA" at the Kunsthalle in Kiel

Thrilling as archaeology may be on the screen

(...) The initiative to organize a festival was taken up by Kurt Denzer because of and by means of his own filmwork. Since the end of the seventies he has recorded the excavations at Hedeby. The films produced hereof are being shown at their place of origin, in the Viking-Museum. "So far they have been watched by more than a million vievers", Denzer joyfully takes note of the broad public resonance. He won a substantial number of prizes for his productions on archaeology-film-festivals in Belgium, France and Italy, and time and again he was being asked: "Why do you not have a similar festival in Germany?"

Now what may the audience expect? Dull subjects, dryly factual films? M. Mundt promises a varied and lively programme: "In particular the films dealing with experimental archaeology do at times induce suspense like an action-film. The German contribution Bunte Götter for example has embedded its discoveries in a feature film-plot, the prize-winning Mexican production »Tlacuilo« shows the partial deciphering of an Aztec pictographic writing by means of the animated cartoon."

Do the organizers expect just an expert-audience consisting of members of archaeological and historian circles? M. Mundt denies and argues: "Archaeology has an air of being shrouded in mystery." Denzer estimates, looking back on the very popular foreign festivals he took part in, that in Kiel too a great number of visitors will attend at this festival. He is convinced: "There are lots of people interested in archaeology." The films of the programme that addresses itself to the general public will be introduced each with a few respective summarizing words. During breaks in between the shows the audience will get the chance to talk to those filmmakers who visit the festival.

The cooperation with other scientific disciplines has greatly promoted progress in archaeology, a fact stressed by Kurt Denzer. Thus it has become possible with the means of molecular biology to diagnose diseases of people long since dead by examining their skeletal remains. The film »Das Geheimnis des Antiochos« ("The secret of Antiochus") demonstrates in which way a grave mound is being examined with the help of seismic and radar.

"I am interested in the network of pure and straightforward science, the communicating of science and the medium film", is Denzer`s credo. "Quite often film offers the only chance to make things visible in archaeology, to seize the course of events and record all this." He himself wants to show this with his productions »Der hölzerne Kalender - Dendrochronologie in Haithabu« and »Vom Baum zum Einbaum«.

Sunday the Minister President Heide Simonis shall hand over the heavyweight bronze prizes to their hopefully strong enough recipients. The trophees are sensibly decorated with the drawing of a man that reminds stylistically of cave-drawings. For the time being prize and man yet lack a handy name. Yet Denzer is sure that the figure shall hold a camera in his hand.

Volker Behrens

Hamburger Abendblatt, 16. April 1994

Kiel Festival for Archaeological Films

dpa Kiel - The first German prize for the best archaeological film shall be awarded on the 23rd of April at the "CINARCHEA" in Kiel. 50 German and foreign productions run as competitors, covering topics such as "Ötzis wahres Gesicht" ("Ötzi`s true face") or "Molecularbiological Analysis of Ancient DNA". The festival is intended to bring together filmmakers, archaeologists and interested laymen for the course of three days. The programme includes not only western European productions but also contributions from Russia, the Ukraine and Mexico.

Kieler Nachrichten, 22. April 1994

International Archaeology-film-Festival "CINARCHEA"opened

The Cinema inspires Joy for Science

The ancient Romans showed off their superiority once more the big way. More than one and a half milleniums after their undisputable dominance in Europe they managed to decisively triumph over Ötzi just as over the First American. Unter römischer Herrschaft was awarded the "Große Preis" of the International Archaeology-Film-Festival CINARCHEA.

Praise by the Jury was given to the productions Der Zeuge aus dem Gletscher ("The Witness from the Glacier") and Ötzi`s True Face as well as the Controversy About the First Americans. With the award ceremony on Saturday the official part of the festival came to an end. The interest of the audience in the filmic presentations of the past lasted undiminished. More than a thousand visitors, according to the organizers' records, made their way into the Kunsthalle since Wednesday to see productions from eleven countries and to get the chance to talk to filmmakers and archaeologists. The festival-director Kurt Denzer seemed quite inclined to meet the challenge, put forward by the participants, of a repeat festival in a couple of years. "In any case it would be an expert-festival with public appeal", he prophecied.

The next "CINARCHEA" might focus on one subject only. Denzer could imagine too some form of cooperation with the special-programme-cinemas which then might put on show archaeological films during the run-up to the festival. Summing it all up he did regret though that Schleswig-Holstein's cineastic scene had not been present at the festival. In spite of the multitude of presentations there had been only a minority of films which treated the subject archaeology and film with a critical eye, with irony, with wit and a touch of humour. Just as the members of the jury he considers the winning film as the exception to the rule.

Unter römischer Herrschaft presents the effects of the Roman reign in Hanau and surrounds during the time-span from 70 to 260 A.D. It was mainly "the inconsistencies in history" which the authors Sabine Wolfram and Enzio Edschmid aimed to find an adequate expression for in their informative film produced for the Museum Schloß Steinheim, Hanau. During 32 minutes historical staged scenes and informative material is confronted and combined with impressions of contemporary life. A text informing about the ingeniously constructed road-system and the Roman army comments so to speak pictures of modern motorways and tanks.

Illuminating the subject of naturalization customs in the Roman multinational state, the camera wanders through an office, where black citizens sit and wait for locked doors of German bureaucracy to open.

Further prize-winners are: Das Geheimnis des Antiochus (The Secret of Antiochus) in the section of Excavation and Method, Les forges de Vulcain in the Experimental Archaeology and La poupée romaine in the section Didactics. The Special Prize of the Jury was awarded to Die bunten Götter, Der Zeuge aus dem Gletscher got the Prize of the Audience.

The prizes were handed over by the Minister President Heide Simonis who in a good-humoured speech confirmed that the organizers had uncovered a special niche: "The festival manages to get a broad public to pay attention to the archaeological film". A retrospective of prize-awarded films from other international festivals, a retrospective of the early beginnings of the archaeological film and the programme of prizewinners marked the end of the CINARCHEA in the Kunsthalle last night.


Kieler Nachrichten, Montag, den 25. April 1994

Award Ceremony at the end of "CINARCHEA"

The Romans of Old Put Ötzi in the Shade

The "CINARCHEA" seems to lay bare the treasure-hunt mentality of many a citizen. The audience anyway came pouring in to participate in the opening night of the International Archaeology-Film Festival at the Kiel Museum of Art. The organizers even had to send some interested would-be-guests back home, since there was just no space left in the auditorium totally packed with more than 300 viewers. The crowd seem to confirm the initiator and organizers aiming at arranging an attractive event able to arouse the interest of a broad public audience for this field of science by means of the medium film.

The films... made plain clear which thematic as well as stylistic range is being covered in this competition. It so happened that it even was the production on show, Bunte Götter, which apparently gave the lie to the Cultural Minister Marianne Tidick who said in her words of greeting that it could not be regarded as an exactly "German virtue" to present science in a correct and profound manner and still give it an easygoing, witty and comprehensible air.

The young director Ewerhard Engel demonstrated in his film that some of the ancient marble statues were not simply of white colour but were actually decorated with bright colours and patterns. This result of research was skilfully reconstructed and embedded in a dramaturgically and optically well thought over story including a plot. It shows how the traces of painting were discovered, how they were painted again on a cast of a statue representing Paris by means of powdered pigments, oil and eggyolk, and it prensent the colourful result... In the end the notorious womanizer Paris looks much like a harlequin. The making of this film in a popular scientific way met with a lot of approval on the side of the audience.

Quite a few gave it a good marking on their ballot-paper for the Publikumspreis. In the Italian contribution Noi e gli etruschi the filmmakers motivated pupils from altogether 25 schoolclasses to paint pictures reflecting the history of the Etruscans, and they recount the drama about the decline of this civilisation by means of these childrens` drawings. Other productions, as there are Troia-Excavations 1992, Arkéoplan or Etruscan Granulation, were more sparing concerning the usage of filmic means and concepts of realization. These will probably rather be interesting for the expert-audience, and partly they were specifically made for this target group.

The viewers in general quite obviously felt attracted by the diversity . "I am amazed. I would not have imagined this to be so entertaining", says the stunned Birgit Hartmann-Vitsikalis. This lady from Kiel, who once had played with the idea to study archaeology herself, visited the festival as an interested citizen. Thursday morning, amidst a crowd of schoolkids, Richard Behrens, archaeologist and former director of the Museum of Prehistory in Halle, saw the programme. "Up to now I believed that the scientists ought to see to their subject, archaeology, first and foremost: yet what they manage to demonstrate is hardly as lively as the contributions of the filmmakers", he said, impressed by some of the "lively presentations".

The International Jury headed by Stephen Locke is confronted with an anything but easy challenge, taking into consideration the diversity and the different levels of ambition and claim among the 50 films competing. His opinion is that "filmically well-made productions that manage to turn archaeology into a fascinating experience" ought to be awarded with the "CINARCHEA"-prizes. Tomorrow... these will be presented by the Minister President Heide Simonis in the Kunsthalle.


Filmbrief Nr. 27, Mai 1994
(Kulturelle Filmförderung Schleswig-Holstein e.V.)

CINARCHEA: From Ötzi up to the Romans
The First German Archaeology-Film-Festival in Kiel

On show: round about 50 films (lengths varied from 5 to 56 minutes) during three programmes each day. The small group around Kurt Denzer... had loaded the festival , slightly too much maybe, since there were, beside the actual filmprogramme, a symposium and several sightseeings too.

While on the one hand visitors and participants were thus stimulated and seduced to make a multitude of discoveries, the organizing staff on the other hand at times did groan behind the scenes with the burden of so much work to have everything run reasonably smooth.

Still, most of the time the petty little mishaps could be eased and settled with a near to Nordic charme and as cool as relaxed finesses of improvisation. The enormous enthusiasm for the work to be done made up for the rest. Native as well as guests from abroad could well be content. Particularly since the general atmosphere created between and after performances was very pleasant.

A bit of a welcome surprise was the enormous public resonance, which one had not been able to calculate with beforehand. For example: on a brightly sunlit Friday afternoon... more than 150 viewers sat in the Kunsthalle in order to satisfy their curiosity about the Ötzi-man from the glacier, who was presented with even two television-productions from Austria ("The witness from the Glacier", "Ötzi`s True Face", Prize of the Audience). The opening night on Wednesday was visited by what one righteously could call a mass-audience...Put on show was, amongst others, the 28-minutes-film "Bunte Götter" by Raimund Wünsche. This film, produced for final examinations at the Munich Academy for Film and Television, captured the attention of the audience by means of a vivacious presentation of an archaeological reconstruction. After a long session of repeated yet varied processes of painting the white surface structure of the sculpture presenting an ancient god disappears, covered by colourful splendour. With rapt attention one watches the progressing change: the latest research results confirm that ancient marble sculptures may quite likely have looked like this. The film was awarded the Special Prize of the Jury.

The fact that the international jury did have anything but an easy job soon became evident to every viewer. Subjects and styles, genres were just too widely varied. And thus the very committed jury-members under the direction of the film-journalist Stephen Locke and the cameraman Bernd Fiedler quite often found themselves confronted with the difficult task to find criteria for examining and reach an assessment where there was hardly anything that could be compared. Fortunately the "chemistry" among the jury-members was fine too. So it was possible to reach an agreement, after negotiations on every detail...

The main prize-winning film "Under Roman Rule" by Sabine Wolfram and Enzio Edschmid combines in a cleverly skilful manner documentary report with staged scenes and thereby manages to produce an ironic comment on change through the ages, change on the social, economic and cultural level. Amusing analogies to the present describe the past more intelligibly. The comparison between Roman military and American Nato-authorities made itself obvious. And the contrast between the Latin-speaking occupying troops and the dialect of the adaptable natives is just plain funny.

At the end all seemed content though rather exhausted. And: the question, secretly expected by the smiling Kurt Denzer, on the When and What Way this festival may be continued on a regular basis was asked many a time. Helmut Schulzeck

Förderverein Cinarchea e. V. •  Universität Kiel  •  Postfach 141  •  D-24118 Kiel
Tel +49 (0431) 880-4941  •  Fax +49 (0431) 880-4940  •  agfilm@email.uni-kiel.de