Images in your head and new tenants.

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Impressive: In 1959, an administrative building, two laboratory buildings and a filming room were built in Nonnenstieg, Göttingen. In 1960, a villa for the director, a house for the electrician and a house for the janitor were built for the Scientific Film Institute (IWF). The surface covered 32,000 square meters, that is, around four football fields. Demolition began in 2019. © private/nh

A lecture on the former Scientific Film Institute (IWF). Its history and meaning are illuminated.

Göttingen – A lecture could not be more appropriate: As the last tenants move into the former IMF building on Nonnenstieg in Göttingen, a contemporary witness reports on the history and importance of the IMF at a lecture on Saturday, November 18.

For decades, a complex of buildings characterized the upper part of the Nonnenstieg in the eastern district of Göttingen: a major media institution was based at Nonnenstieg 72: the Scientific Film Institute (IWF).

The media institution was founded in 1956.

The end of this media institution, founded in 1956 and highly respected internationally, came gradually: the IMF was dissolved between 2008 and 2010 and was in liquidation from 2011. The buildings remained empty until the refugees found temporary accommodation in 2015. Demolition began in 2019.

In Nonnenstieg, Göttingen: More than 200 rental apartments have been built on the former site of the Scientific Film Institute (IWF).
In Nonnenstieg, Göttingen: More than 200 rental apartments have been built on the former site of the Scientific Film Institute (IWF). © Thomas Copytz

Now there are modern apartment buildings there. These days the last apartments in the complex built by the Munich company Wertgrund are moving in. Now they shape the image of Nonnenstieg. For older people, the IMF remains the image they remember most in their minds.

Great importance of the old institute.

But Werner Große’s lecture is not addressed only to this audience. He talks about the IMF, the importance of scientific cinema and the Göttingen Institute and the people of Göttingen. Conference title: “What remains of the IMF and scientific cinema?” The event on Saturday, November 18 at the Startraum Göttingen is part of the anniversary program “75 years of the film city of Göttingen” initiated by the Göttingen Film Office.

Werner Große is an expert in scientific cinema.
Werner Große is an expert in scientific cinema. © private/nh

Werner Große is destined to talk about cinema, and especially scientific cinema, in Göttingen. He was an employee of the Scientific Film Institute for 37 years. “I was married to the IMF,” says the 77-year-old, who still holds a teaching position at the Technical University of Braunschweig.

Scientific cinema has a tradition

In any case, scientific cinema has a tradition in the scientific city of Göttingen: after fleeing Berlin, a dozen film experts, led by Gotthard Wolf, took up the subject in Göttingen. Wolf arrived in 1945 with a truck and some employees from Berlin via Höckelheim to Göttingen. In his luggage: cameras and film, a lot of talent and skill.

In Berlin, the team shot technical research films at the Reich Institute for Film and Image in Science and Education (RWU). He set up a makeshift factory in Göttingen. In the end, something that was not foreseeable at the time, he created an institution “unsurpassed”, as Große writes. According to Alexander Zguridi, Göttingen and especially the IMF should become the “Mecca of scientific cinema” in the coming decades.

Worldwide recognition

On April 1, 1956, what we would call “StartUp” today became the Scientific Film Institute (IWF), and Gotthard Wolf became its director. The institute was consolidated and received recognition as “the most representative example in the world of an organization of this type,” as shown in a UNESCO report. A success that, in retrospect, even Große describes as “amazing”.

Thousands of scientific films were created in Nonnenstieg, produced, evaluated, published and made available to science there.

State-funded service institute

Many people in the region were aware of all this, but moviegoers in general had no connection with it. The IMF was conceived as a service institute for science and, therefore, was financed by the State.

Films and images also fascinated non-experts, but at the same time the main task of the IWF was to correctly convey in images and text the complex research results. With high demands on the product, as highlighted by Werner Große, who also points out the differences with the scientific explanations that are popular today thanks to new media and technologies, also through YouTube videos.

Fragment of material use.

Another problem, according to Große, is the use of fragments of material taken from the context of the films, including old IMF films. Große once came across parts of IWF films on a video wall in a nightclub in Spain. “Incredible!”

By the way, you know all the IMF movies. In the end, Werner Große of the IMF was responsible for the final acceptance, in which he participated. Among the treasures of the facility were numerous films by the world-famous behavioral scientists Konrad Lorenz and Irenaeus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, as well as recordings by the 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 who now live in the new buildings. One more reason to attend his conference.

Information: Werner Große: “What’s left of the IMF and scientific cinema?”, Saturday, November 18, 6:00 p.m., StartRaum, Friedrichstraße 3-4, 37073 Göttingen, admission: eight euros, reduced price six euros. (Thomas Copytz)

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