The Words of the Chairman

I was on a ship – this sounds like a novel: I had just embarked for Venezuela on June 2, 1967 as the Shah of Iran was arriving in West Berlin. There were protests, a student was shot, and a new form of opposition movement came into existence. The idea for this film came to me while I was still aboard the ship.

The film is structured like a commercial. The film takes a metaphor literally: words can become weapons. However, it also shows that these weapons are made of paper. The weapon spoiled everything for the Shah and his wife, they are wearing paper bags on their heads with faces drawn on them – the kind of bags worn by Iranian students during demonstrations to hide their identity from the Savak, the Iranian Secret Service.

When I showed this film to the audiences in the late 60s, it was highly praised. I think people understood then that over obviousness is also a form of irony. This capacity was lost a few years later. I think it's coming back today.

(Harun Farocki)

Original title Die Worte des Vorsitzenden Director Harun Farocki Assistant director Helke Sander Scriptwriter Harun Farocki, based on texts by Lin Piao Cinematographer Holger Meins Production DFFB, Berlin-West Format 16mm, b/w,1:1,37Length 3 min. First broadcast 27.06.1969, ZDF