One talk is about the former Institute for Scientific Film (IWF). Its history and meaning are illuminated.
Göttingen – A lecture could hardly be more appropriate: As the last tenants move into the building on the former IMF premises on Nonnenstieg in Göttingen, a contemporary witness recounts the history and significance of the IMF in a lecture on Saturday 18 November.
For decades, a complex of buildings characterized the upper Nonnenstieg in the eastern district of Göttingen: an important media institution was based at Nonnenstieg 72: the Institute for Scientific Cinema (IWF).
The media institution was founded in 1956
The end of the media institution, founded in 1956 and highly respected internationally, came gradually: the IMF was dissolved between 2008 and 2010 and went into liquidation from 2011. The buildings remained empty until refugees found temporary accommodation in 2015. Demolition began in 2019.
Now there are modern apartment buildings there. The last apartments in the complex built by Munich-based Wertgrund are currently being transferred. They now shape the image in Nonnenstieg. For older people, the IMF remains the most memorable image in their minds.
Great importance of the ancient institute
But Werner Große’s talk is not just aimed at this audience. He talks about the IMF, the importance of scientific film and the Göttingen Institute and the people of Göttingen. Lecture title: “What remains of the IMF and scientific film?” The event on Saturday, November 18th at the Starraum Göttingen is part of the “75 Years of the Film City of Göttingen” anniversary program initiated by the Göttingen Film Office.
Werner Große is destined to talk about cinema – and especially scientific cinema – in Göttingen. He was employed by the Institute for Scientific Film for 37 years. “I was married to the IMF,” says the 77-year-old, who still teaches at TU Braunschweig.
The scientific film has a tradition
In any case, scientific cinema has a tradition in the science city of Göttingen: after fleeing Berlin, a dozen film experts, led by Gotthard Wolf, tackled the topic in Göttingen. Wolf came in 1945 with a truck and some employees from Berlin via Höckelheim to Göttingen. In luggage: cameras and film cans, a lot of talent and skill.
In Berlin, the team made technical research films at the Reich Institute for Film and Imaging in Science and Education (RWU). He set up a makeshift production facility in Göttingen. In the end, which was not at all predictable at the time, he created an “unparalleled” institution, as Große writes. According to Alexander Zguridi, Göttingen and especially the IMF are expected to become the “Mecca of scientific film” in the coming decades.
On April 1, 1956, what we would today call “StartUp” became the Institute for Scientific Film (IWF) – and Gotthard Wolf became its director. The institute established itself and received recognition as “the world’s most representative example of such an organization”, as shown in a UNESCO report. A success that even Große describes as “incredible” in retrospect.
Thousands of scientific films have been created in Nonnenstieg; were produced, evaluated, published and made available to science.
State-Funded Service Institute
Many people in the region knew all this, but moviegoers in general had no connection with it. The IMF was conceived as a service institute for science and was therefore financed by the State.
Films and images also fascinated lay people, but at the same time the IWF’s main task was to correctly convey complex research results in images and text. With great demands on the product, as emphasized by Werner Große, who also points out the differences in relation to scientific explanations that are popular today thanks to new media and technologies – also through videos on YouTube.
Use of material excerpt
Another problem, according to Große, is the use of excerpts of material taken from the context of the films – including old IMF films. Große once found parts of IWF films on a video wall in a disco in Spain. “Incredible!”
In fact, he knows all the IMF films. Ultimately, Werner Große at the IMF was responsible for the final acceptance, in which he was involved. The installation’s treasures included many films by the world-famous behavioral scientists Konrad Lorenz and Irenaeus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, as well as recordings with Göttingen Nobel Prize winners Otto Hahn and Werner Heisenberg.
Painful end for the institute
The end of the IMF, which was painful for many, including Werner Große, is unknown to many of the people now living in the new buildings. Yet another reason to watch his talk.
Information: Werner Große: “What remains of the IMF and scientific film?”, Saturday, November 18, 6pm, StartRaum, Friedrichstraße 3-4, 37073 Göttingen, entry: eight euros, reduced price six euros. (Thomas Copytz)