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OPENS JUNE 7
In 1967, Jim McBride rattled the cinéma vérité crowd with David Holtzman’s Diary, a first-person documentary that happened to be a work of fiction. Three decades later, German filmmakers Daniel Sponsel and Jan Sebening had a similar idea: Their The Last Documentary Film (at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 28) interweaves a history of the form with the biography of one of the filmmakers—which is actually pure invention. That’s one of the wilder notions in this series of eight recent docs by German or Swiss directors, but they’re all the work of filmmakers who seek alternatives to the sober, worthy, and kind of dull traditional documentary. The series begins with Dominik Wessely’s The Housewife’s Flower (pictured; at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 7), a comic account of rival traveling salesmen peddling the title item, a new model of vacuum cleaner. In his documentary-as-therapy, Buenos Aires, My History/Images of the Absence (at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 14) German Kral tracks the disintegration of his parents’ marriage and compels them on camera to confront their loss. Gordian Maugg’s Hans Warns, My 20th Century (at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 21) also dabbles in fiction, mixing early-20th-century photos and 8mm film shot by a German sailor with found footage and faux-documentary inserts. Two of the films take a skeptical view of modern architecture: Matthias Müller’s Vacancy (shown with The Last Documentary Film) uses a variety of footage to depict Brasília as a ghost town, and Volko Kamensky’s Divine Obsession (shown with Simone Fürbinger’s Vagabonding Images at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9) parodies the recent French enthusiasm for traffic roundabouts. The series opens Monday, June 7, and runs through Monday, August 9, at the Goethe-Institut’s Goethe-Forum, 812 7th St. NW. $5. (202) 289-1200. (Mark Jenkins)