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Robert Bramkamp - Biography

Robert Bramkamp is a German director and screenwriter. He was born on May the 15th 1961 in Münster in the north western part of Germany. From 1998 to 2006 he was a lecturer of film directing at the Academy of Film and Television in Potsdam in the eastern part of Germany (“Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen ‘Konrad Wolf’ Potsdam-Babelsberg”). Since 2008 he has been a professor at the College of Fine Arts in Hamburg, the largest port city of Germany situated in the northern part of the country. Today, Robert Bramkamp is also a professor of German cinematography at the European Graduate School (EGS) in Switzerland where he teaches an intensive summer seminar.

Robert Bramkamp studied Germanic studies from 1981 to 1988 and graduated from the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster. In parallel, from 1983 to 1988 he also studied film at the Art Academy in Münster. In 1988 he became a master’s degree student of the German film director Lutz Mommartz (1934-).

Since 1983 Robert Bramkamp wrote and directed of six short movie and four feature-length films. At the same time he has been an author, a film studies professor and an organizer of film and media events. In 1988 he started a work co-operation with the German conceptual artist and photographer Susanne Weirich (1962-). They would first worked together on her Media Art Projects.

Professor Bramkamp’s first full-length feature film, entitled Gelbe Sorte (“Yellow Species”) was produced for the small screen and aired on German television in 1987. The original plot as portrayed on Bramkamp’s own website is as follows:

“The young farmer Bernd has problems with the family farm, which is on the point of going bankrupt. A friend comes up with a rescue plan: “The non-production of surplus should not be recognizably different from the production of needs.” This naturally has something to do with the darker abysses of the EC’s zero production target. In Rotterdam, Bernd gets to know the Dutch owner of a cold-storage warehouse who runs an imaginary but really financed meat depot. Henceforth, the pigs that Bernd delivers only exist on paper. This is repeatedly intercut with images of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Are there parallels with life in the country? Not only agriculture, but also women are undergoing a process of transformation. Bernd’s girlfriend wants to go to drama school. From Kleist’s Penthesilea she declaims that it is well known this is about the struggle for power between men and women.”

From 1989 to 1990 he produced, One None 100 000, an alternative TV program. The conquest of the center, his second feature film, was released in 1995 at the Berlinale premiere. The Berlinale or The Berlin International Film Festival (“Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin”) is a competitive film festival established in 1951 that takes place in February each year. Together with Cannes in May, Venice and Toronto in September, it comprises one of the four major film festivals.

  

In 1993 Bramkamp had a comprehensive solo exhibition and screening of films at the Kinemathek D.H.M in Berlin. From 1993 to 1994 he was a  guest lecturer at the University of Lüneburg for three semesters, teaching a course entitled Kleine Sehgeschichten mit Video (“Little Optic Tales in Video”).

From 1994 to 1995 he worked as a freelance writer on cinema. From 1995 to 1996 he lived abroad in Los Angeles as a guest lecturer at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design in California. His course there was entitled “Alternative Narrative Structures in Film and Art”, which he co-taught with his friend Susanne Weirich.

From 1998 to 1999 and in 2004 again he was an instructor of feature-film directing at the Academy of Film and Television in the district of Babelsberg in the city of Potsdam, Germany. In 2004 he developed “Enki100.net”, a platform for collective and multimedia-based story telling (again here with Susanne Weirich). This project was supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes or the “The Federal Cultural Foundation” of Germany. In 2005 he had a major solo exhibition and screened films at several prestigious places, including the Munich Film Museum, the Filmclub 813 in Cologne, and the Filmart Theatre Babylon in Berlin.

Robert Bramkamp has made a name for himself as a director of experimental films with unconventional names. With his films Teststand 7 (“Prüfstand 7”) in 2002 was based on the famous Thomas Pynchon’s rocket novel “Gravity's Rainbow”. His film The Boat God of Lakeside Sports Club (“Der Bootgott Vom Seesportclub”) also adds to Bramkamps popular perception.

The guide to the movie Teststand 7, is written by Robert Bramkamp and screenwriter Olga Fedianina. It includes dialogues from the movie with accompanying texts and interviews with the German journalist and writer Helmut Höge, the journalist and songwriter Michael Girke, the late German literary critic and media theorist Friedrich Kittler, and the writer Heinrich Dubel. But also Godfried Elzenga, the screenwriter, actor and director Laurens Straub, Rebekah Ladewig and more. The book includes a documentation of missile technology, which has been qualified as the dreaded myth-laden military research. The publication goes through idealized visions of mass-compatible spaces such as entertainment parks. While the film was a large-scale project, through the medium of the book, it appears somewhat smaller. It is partly explanatory, and partly on contemporary theories, which are explored through interviews, essays, and film stills. Well-known authors, experts, and cultural studies explore the experimental field in this book.

When Robert Bramkamp joined the faculty at the School of Fine Arts in Hamburg in April 2008 as a professor of film and digital media he commented that he considered his upcoming work there as being a research laboratory for contemporary films. In the summer of 2010 he began filming the cross-media movie “Art Girls” for which he is the director, the screenwriter and one of the producers. The movie stars the German actress Inga Busch, the German actor Peter Lohmeyer, the German theater and film actress Jana Schulz and the actress originally from New Zealand Megan Gay. It was produced by a company founded by his friend Susanne Weirich, Kirsten Ellerbrake and Robert Bramkamp himself: the “Institute of Research-Film GmbH” (or in the original German “Institut Forschender Film GmbH”

“Art Girls” is a cross-media project that combines a feature film, a TV mockumentary, an internet portal with a collective narrative, and other new media applications. The storyline includes three Berliners, Künsterlinnen Nikita Neufeld, Una Queens and Fiona da Vinci who participate in a group exhibition, which was initiated by the twins Peter and Laurens Maturana as a cover for a scientific experiment called "Biosynchronisation". A “new nature” gets created as a result. At first it looks as though everything and everyone is rushing straight for a disaster, but ultimately it all ends in a mad-friendly, positive utopia.

Robert Bramkamp is a Professor of Film at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he teaches an Intensive Summer Seminar.