30.09. - 09.10.2021

Strong women

Again this year FILMFEST HAMBURG will showcase a multitude of films made by women. Here is a lowdown of the first five of these productions involving exceptional female directors and a film made by a team of two directors, as well as an event from the fringe programme in cooperation with WIFT (Women in Film and Television) on the topic of equal opportunities in the film industry.

Chloé Zhao made her directing debut at FILMFEST HAMBURG in 2015 with Songs My Brothers Taught Me. This year the Chinese-born director, who has made a home for herself in New York, will be enriching the programme with The Rider, winner of the Art Cinema Award at Cannes International Film Festival. In it Zhao whisks viewers off on a melancholy journey to the American heartland. With great sensitivity she tells the incredibly moving story of a once-acclaimed rodeo star on a quest for a new identity following a serious head injury.

With her second feature film What Will People Say, Norwegian director Iram Haq gives us a look behind closed doors of a Pakistani family in Norway. At home 16-year-old Nisha is the perfect daughter and outside a normal teenager. Until her father catches her with her boyfriend and sends her to Pakistan to live with her relatives and adopt the culture of her parents. An intense film dealing with the lives of young women in patriarchal societies.

In her feature film Licht, Austrian director Barbara Albert (Die Lebenden, Nordrand, Böse Zellen) narrates a parable about the power of music at the time of Mozart in Vienna. Elaborately staged and with a great deal of sensitivity the historical drama tells the fateful story of miracle healer Franz Anton Mesmer (Devid Striesow) and his most famous patient Theresia Paradis (Maria Dragus), an 18-year-old pianist who became blind at an early age, who notices with horror that she is losing her musical virtuosity as her sight begins to improve.

Brazilian documentary Baronesa by Juliana Antunes deals with the everyday lives of two women in the slums of the Brazilian million-strong metropolis Belo Horizonte. Their conversations provide a female insight into an environment dominated by male violence, which despite all the severity has a rugged beauty to it. Men play only supporting roles, and even the film crew was almost exclusively made up of women.

In Fühlen Sie sich manchmal ausgebrannt und leer? (Do you sometimes feel burned-out and empty), Lola Randl employs charm and wit to tell of the excessive demands of life. Luisa (Lina Beckmann) becomes two overnight, old Luisa in one body and new Anne in the other. On the outside the two look identical, but on everything else they are profoundly different. But Luisa soon recognises the possibilities her second self might bring: finally she can run away with her lover Leopold (Benno Fürmann) while Anne takes care of her husband Richard (Charlie Hübner). A wonderfully quirky, dazzlingly colourful comedy of mistaken identities.

Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton have devoted themselves to the issue of equal opportunities. In 2006, the married couple wowed audiences with their directing debut Little Miss Sunshine, shown as the closing film at FILMFEST HAMBURG. Now they introduce their second joint feature film, Battle of The Sexes – Gegen jede Regel (Battle of the Sexes, Against Every Rule). In the wake of the sexual revolution and the booming feminist movement, the 1973 US exhibition match between world no. 1 female tennis player Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex tennis champion Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) is billed a “Battle Of The Sexes”, and with 90 million viewers it becomes the most-watched sporting event in television history. Yet away from preparing for the match the two opponents are fighting their own personal battles: Riggs is struggling with his gambling addiction while King is campaigning for equality and self-determined sexuality.

As part of FILMFEST HAMBURG, the industry network WIFT (Women in Film and Television) invites you to its panel discussion How do we achieve equal opportunities for women in film and TV?, taking place on 13 October from 4‑5:30 p.m. in the festival tent. The fact that women have been heavily underrepresented in German films has long been known. According to the latest study by the German Council for Culture, the financial disadvantage of women in culture and media has manifested itself in a serious gap of around 24 percent between women and men in terms of Artists’ Social Security Fund payments. In front of the camera women are mainly portrayed in connection with relationships and partnerships, that according to a recent study by the University of Rostock in collaboration with ARD, ZDF, RTL and ProSiebenSat.1. Discussing strategies, political responsibility and opportunities afforded by funding institutions designed to give female filmmakers equal opportunities are Maria Köpf (Managing Director Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein), Jana Schiedek (State Counsellor for Culture and Media of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg), Anna Serner (CEO Swedish Film Institute) and Monique Simard (CEO Sodec, Canada). 

The panel discussion will be chaired by Katja Eichinger.


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