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EXBlicks: Ladies behind the camera

Girls on film? Yes. Women behind the camera? Even better! Following up on the success of Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, EXBlicks pays tribute to Berlin’s best female filmmakers with 10 films over two weeks at Lichtblick from Dec 1-14.

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Ticket of No Return
Following up on the success of Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, EXBlicks pays tribute to Berlin’s best female filmmakers with 10 films over two weeks at Lichtblick from December 1-14. Gender gap in the film industry? The figures speak for themselves. This year’s Berlinale saw only two out of 18 films in competition directed by women; at Cannes it was three out of 21. There was some good news from Cannes, though, for both Germany and women. Berlin director Maren Ade’s third feature, Toni Erdmann, was the surprise gem at the French festival, breaking an embarrassing streak of German film absenteeism from the international festival circuit. The dramedy of a father who tries to reconnect with his adult daughter starring Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller was also a great story of arthouse meets box office success, not only in Germany but also Austria and France. Due to be released in the US on Christmas, it’s been selected as Germany’s entry for Best Foreign-Language Film at next year’s Oscars. German cinema is back with a bang, thanks to a Berlinerin! Ade’s success inspired us to pay homage to those great Berlin women who have been making inspiring cinema, from counter-culture legends to younger acolytes trying to defeat the gender bias, to Ade herself. Following up on last month’s retrospective of Tatjana Turanskyj, we invited 10 great ladies to show and discuss their films at Lichtblick. Elfi Mikesch’s five-decade career is represented by the 2011 documentary Mondo Lux (Dec 5, 20:30, Dec 11, 18:00), her love letter to the excesses of Werner Schroeter, while the opening of Ulrike Ottinger’s Berlin Trilogy, Ticket Of No Return (1979; Dec 7, 19:00), illustrates how the avant-garde feminist has challenged traditions and championed outcasts throughout her career.
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Ottinger’s transgressive influence can be felt with more recent directors like Julia von Heinz, whose political commitment and involvement in anti-fascist movements has directly contributed to her filmmaking. Her 2007 drama Was am Ende zählt (Dec 8, 20:30, Dec 12, 18:30) completes the selection with Nicolette Krebitz’s 2016 Sundance-premiered fable Wild (Dec 1, 18:00, Dec 3, 22:00, Dec 5, 22:30 Dec 12, 20:15, Dec 13, 18:00, Dec 14, 22:00), aka “the one with lupine cunnilingus”. Her divisive slow-burner sees a young woman’s personal discovery and sexual awakening as she breaks her mundane routine by connecting with a wild wolf; it rises above eyebrow-raising descriptors to join Jules Herrmann’s Liebmann as one of the programme’s must-sees. Hermann’s debut feature, a tense, intimate and surreal genre mongrel that deals with confronting the past and embracing one’s sexual identity, premieres on Dec 6 (19:30), over a month ahead of its German release.
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The film nicely bridges the gap between Ottinger’s gender politics and the more formal aesthetics of Angela Shanelec, one of the leading examples of the so-called Berlin School. Her 2004 Marseille (Dec 10, 18:00), set both in the title city and Berlin, imposed a new poetic flair and a distinctively melancholic tempo to a German ‘New Wave’ of cinema that was to enrapture critics at Cannes and at home.
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“Less than 10 percent of films are directed by women in Germany, and it’s important that the films are visible and discussed,” says Turanskyj, who as a co-founder of the ProQuote Regie organisation is fighting for funding equality for women directors. Well, let’s start with visibility: showing these great disruptive films by women might be worth a hundred slogans. And coming to see them might be the best way to support the cause of female cinema!  Dec 1-14 | All films screened with English subtitles (with the exception of Toni Erdmann) in the cosy atmopshere of Lichtblick Kino; many followed by a Q&A with guest and a glass of wine. See lichtblick-kino.org for full programme.