Date/Time: 01/11/2009 12:00 am
The Halfmoon Files
by Philip Scheffner
2007, 87 minutes, video. In English and German with English subtitles.
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue (at Second Street)
my friend philip scheffner shows his very very special film in NY
october 31 / nov 1 in the Anthology film archives
if you have time, pass by for a special experience,
> New York, Saturday, October 31, 2009
> 6.00pm Anthology Film Archives (Q&A to follow).
> 8.30pm Anthology Film Archives (Q&A to follow).
> New York, Sunday, November 1, 2009
> 5.15pm Anthology Film Archives (Q&A to follow).
> infos about the film
“There once was a man.
This man came into the European war.
Germany captured this man.
He wishes to return to India.
If God has mercy, he will make peace soon.
This man will go away from here.”
Mall Singh’s crackling words are heard as he spoke into the
phonographic funnel on 11th December 1916 in the city of Wünsdorf,
90 years later, Mall Singh is a number on an old Shellac record in an
archive – one amongst hundreds of voices of colonial soldiers of the
First World War.
The recordings were produced as the result of an unique alliance
between the military, the scientific community and the entertainment
industry. In his experimental search “The Halfmoon Files”, Philip
Scheffner follows the traces of these voices to the origin of their
recording. Like a memory game – which remains incomplete right until
the end – he uncovers pictures and sounds that revive the ghosts of
the past. His protagonists’ words intersect along the concentric
spirals the story follows. Those who pressed the record button on the
phonographs, on photo and film cameras, were the ones to write
Mall Singh and the other prisoners of war of the Halfmoon Camp
disappeared from this story. Their spirits and ghostly appearances
seem to play with the filmmaker, to ambush him. They pursue him on his
path, to bring their voices back to their home countries.
Yet the story of these ghosts escapes the control of the narrator. And
the ghosts do not disperse.
“When a person dies, he constantly roams about and becomes a ghost.
It is the soul that roames about.
The roaming soul is like air.
So a ghost is like air.
It can go everywhere.”
(Bhawan Singh, Wünsdorf 1917 / 2007)