Robert Bramkamp (b. 1961) has spent the last 20 years making a series of innovative films that combine fact and fiction to make a series of fascinating connections. Bramkamp, who calls his films prototypes, is often associated by film criticism with Alexander Kluge, with whom he has frequently collaborated, as well as Friedrich Kittler, Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet and Thomas Pynchon. Bramkamp’s films combine aspects of documentary, essay and fiction, and thus find unconventional perspectives for a thematically broad-ranging narration.
His first full-length feature film Yellow Species (1987) concerns a young Westphalian farmer’s struggle for survival. Instead of being a predictable melodramatic milieu study, the film revolves around a sophisticated subsidy fraud in which a tale of conspiracy is combined with a corporate film and Chinese communist propaganda. It is necessary to rescue banal failure from the claws of despair, shifting the geographical or historical context until things become productive in a new constellation. (Bramkamp).
In the short film Beckerbillet (1992), tickets provide the focus of another conspiracy by bringing a secret currency onto the market. The film was made with workers and employees of the factory that gives the film its name.
Another film made on location is The Man at the Window (1989), a short film in which the architects of a housing estate are abducted at gunpoint by angry residents and forced into a confession.
Heroes’ Heaven (1987), a US astronaut is rescued by a female Russian cosmonaut (Cristin König), who brings him back from the moon. The documentary footage of the Christian fundamentalist Apollo astronaut James Irving in Bielefeld is thus reconsidered in a way that becomes relevant for the impending Mars missions. A film of the future, according to Georg Seeßlen.
And on The Conquest of the Centre (1995): a funny and complex examination of the psychotherapy boom. Each Bramkamp film is a small work of liberation; and since this is constantly linked with happiness, with a little imagination, these films can become addictive. Die Eroberung der Mitte focuses on the therapy-damaged Wolke Donner (Karina Fallenstein), who is promoted to the assistant of her erstwhile therapist Stroemer (Peter Lohmeyer). Stroemer practices the shameless exploitation of unusual cases.
At the centre of the experimental film-collage Teststand 7 (2001) is the V-2 rocket, the so-called “Wunderwaffe” (wonder weapon) developed by the Nazis. On October 3, 1942, the V-2 became the first rocket to enter space. After the war, despite accusations of his involvement in Hitler’s regime, its designer Wernher von Braun was given a leading position in the NASA space programme by the USA. Prüfstand 7 is a character study of the rocket, in which the androgynous Bianca (Inga Busch) becomes aware of its origins as the rocket’s ghost. Fictive elements in the film were taken from motifs in Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow – the novel’s first film adaptation. Bramkamp’s film is many things in one: a fantastic image pool on the relationship between high-tech and Holocaust, between the fear of death, an obsession with death, and the desire for immortality; a film that is a radical critique of the manner in which history is treated in the cinema, TV and press, and which simultaneously evokes an elaborate conception of history itself. (Michael Girke)
His docufictional film The Boat God of the Lakeside Sports Club. (2005), in which the main character Enki (Steffen ‘Schortie’ Scheumann), who is taken on at the lakeside sports club as part of a short-term job creation scheme, discovers that he has godly qualities, and enters into an ongoing collaboration with 100 international partners, also acts as a kind of exposition to the Net project: www.enki100.net.
Since April 2008, Robert Bramkamp has been Professor of Film at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg.
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”