Internationales Kurzfilmfest Oberhausen 2000 ++ Special Super 8 Night Ramona Welsh & ich
© Olaf Möller

Once upon a time there were three Ishes (something like Chicks, but better) called Dagie Brundert, Ramona Welsh and Pamela Homann. They lived in Berlin, were free (at last!) and had a profound feeling for acronyms, which is why they called themselves the FBI (Free Berlin Ishes - Freie Berliner Ischen) when they organised their Super 8 film presentations in the Aktionsgalerie between 1994 and 97. These FBI evenings became a special sort of cult in Berlin, a city which cannot be said to be exactly lacking in cults: in fact, it’s mad about them.

These were evenings of shameless joy and unrestrained love, not least because the works of these three cheerful Ishes are themselves imbued with joy and love. There were short films like gifts with titles such as „Oh, it’s so nice to be a beetle“ and „Butterfly Kisses“.

The FBI was also developed from a basic altruistic principle: Berlin needs more good film events, film events that people can enjoy. Each of the presentations had a motto: for example „Number Films“ or „Gods and Goddesses“. Many of its works were created specifically around such a subject, such as Dagie-Ishe’s „Ishtar, Goddess of Love“. It should be mentioned that the Ishes didn’t only show their own films, but also those made by others. This was not only because the films of the others are truly beautiful - such as those of the inevitable Stefan Möckel - but also because, although the Ishes may be Ishes and sometimes also goddesses of love, of film, of the domestic hearth or whatever, they are not (yet) witches or enchantresses, even if many of their works have bewitched, enchanted and given great pleasure to many viewers.

The element of joy was and is an important one in the work of the Ishes (who, by the way, always made their films independently of one another: the FBI was an organisational collective, not a production one). Joy has value in and for itself, a value that is not to be equated with entertainment or something similar, even if the films are extremely entertaining. In a society in which entertainment has been degraded to a process of stimulation and reflex, joy can have an endless potential for resistance, precisely because it is not functional and has no purpose. The wild playfulness, confident amateurism and, above all, the completely unbroken, unironic nature of the films bowls viewers over and breaks their heart. And the films’ unbridled imaginativeness as well.

The Ishes - particularly the Dagie-Ishe - make imaginative films. In „Oh, it’s so nice to be a beetle!“, for example, two cardboard beetles - Beetle 1 and Beetle 2 - sitting on a meadow of real grass talk about how nice it is to be a beetle; much nicer, for example, than being a dog (where you’ve got an owner and have to fetch sticks the whole time like an idiot, as an animated segment shows), or even a train conductor (because they don’t have the chance to make all those holes in the tickets anymore, but only stamp them with blue numbers.) At the end of the film, the beetles sing about how lovely it is being a beetle.

Or "Time Punch", in which Dagie makes a time punch according to a secret recipe passed on only from Dagie to Dagie, and is then able to share the perception of space and time that animals have - the animals even speak with Dagie!

Ramona-Ishe’s films, by comparison, are not so sugar-sweet and without definable purpose. They are even able to be interpreted, but only sometimes. „The true Story of the Black Hole“ can be seen, if one really wants to, as a fable about the relation between materialism and idealism (=anti-materialism). The important thing is that her films often seem like small blows for freedom, especially against the background of Ramona Köppel-Welsh’s Eastern filmœuvre.