EN - In Approximations/Contradictions, director Ana Torfs elicits truly breathtaking performances from a diverse group of gifted people singing songs from Hanns Eisler’s Hollywood Songbook, weaving them together into something entertaining, yet deeply disturbing and compelling. Torfs filmed 21 performers, creating close-up portraits of each singer performing three evocative versions (Approximations) of an Eisler song with the lyrics of Bertolt Brecht. Through his compositions for the Hollywood Songbook, Eisler was interested in translating his impressions of war, exile and Hollywood. Torfs researched Eisler's work extensively, formulating an idea of how he would have intended this material, both dark and witty (Contradictions), to be performed.

FR - Dans Approximations/Contradictions, la réalisatrice Ana Torfs extrait des performances à couper le souffle de divers groupes talentueux interprétant des chansons du répertoire hollywoodien d’ Hanns Eisler, les tissant ensemble dans quelque chose de très divertissant,  bien que profondément troublant et fascinant. Ana Torfs filme 21 artistes, en créant des portraits très rapprochés de chaque chanteur interprétant trois versions évocatrices (approximation) d’une chanson d’Eisler avec les paroles de Bertolt Brecht.A travers ses compositions pour le répertoire de chansons hollywoodiennes, Eisler était intéressé par la traduction de ses impressions sur la guerre, l’exil et Hollywood. Torfs fit énormément de recherches sur le travail d’Eisler, en émettant une idée sur comment il aurait l’intention de faire interpréter ce matériel, à la fois de manière sombre et éclairée (contradictions).


Title Approximations/Contradictions
Original title Approximations/Contradictions
Original language German
Status Completed
Category Experimental
Year 2004


Cast Irmgard Arnold, Kobe Baeyens, Patricia Beysens, Esmé Bos, Marijs Boulogne, Vera Coomans, Kris Dane, Koen De Cauter, Viviane De Muynck, Jim Denley, Madiga Figuigui, Lucy Grauman, Claire Haenni, Filip Jordens, Cécilia Kankonda, Simonne Moesen, Dett Peyskens, Zahava Seewald, Olivier Thomas, Hilde Vanhove and Bruno Vanden Broecke / Piano by Piet Kuijken
Photography Jorge Leon
Music Hanns Eisler

assistant to the director: Els Van Riel / German speech consultant: Christine Gregor / web design: Jurgen Persijn and Ana Torfs / web mastering: Olivier Renard / translation of Brecht’s songtexts: Vera Van Maelsaeke Approximations/Contradictions was commissioned by Dia Art Foundation. Funding for Dia’s web projects has been provided the New York State Council on the Arts.

Technical specs

Running time film interactive webproject, maximum duration when looking at all the html pages is 60 minutes
Release format HTML-pages with Flash SWF movies


Supported by Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), deSingel, Royal Conservatory Brussels

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Last edited on 19 February 2016

Short info

Director Ana Torfs
Producers Ana Torfs

Ana Torfs

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