Konrad & Kurfurst - Dir/Pro/Cam/Sound: Esther Urlus
7 min, 16mm tinted and toned handmade B&W emulsion, 2013/14
A fictional re-enactment of a 5 minutes happening that took place during the Olympic games in Berlin 1936. Made on home brew emulsion and color toned with the helping hand of technical publications from early cinema and photographic experiments. The home brew emulsion as fragile metaphor for the heroism of Konrad and his horse Kurfurst. Falling from his horse he became a national hero but overtaken by history, an anti-hero.
Award: Special Mention International Jury Kurtzfilmtage Oberhausen(D)
More about my emulsion research here
For the film shoot I was allowed to use the horse pool of the Strohoeve in Belgium, the Arabo-Frisian stud farm of Willy Naessens, including two of his horses who were experienced swimmers.
The original footage was shot with five underwater Super8 camera's. These Eumig Nautica's were attached to elongated monopods and angled underwater. A piece of duct tape kept the power button activated.
With two horses available I could shoot two full rounds by the pool. Scary enough horses can swim a lot faster than I thought, so after 10 seconds the first lap was already over. Luckily for me, one of the horses was aloud to swim twice. Horses can swim very well, but it is quite a heavy exercise for them. The sound of the heavy breathing that the horse made during the second lap is used in the film.
The Super8 camera's were loaded with B&W Tri-X reversal film and processed by hand in a LOMO film developing tank in the Filmwerkplaats in Rotterdam. The results of the underwater shoot only appeared after developing.
The point of view is completely underwater. Within the concept of the film I only needed a flash of recognition: out of a blue bubbling surface a swimming horse appears.