Remake. Frankfurter Frauen Film Tage: A Rousing Success
By Christina Schultz
The first edition of Remake. Frankfurter Frauen Film Tage organized by the Kinothek Asta Nielsen was a perfect example of Frauenpower (girl power) at its finest. The curators, Gaby Babic, Karola Gramann and Heide Schlüpmann, and the fabulous team members I was able to meet over the past 10 days (like the fabulous ladies Tina and Romina), worked tirelessly to make the festival a success, and a rousing one at that.
The program was so rich, spanning the entire history of women’s cinema (from Germaine Dulac to Amandine Gay) and intersecting with several movements within the women’s movement (women’s suffrage, women’s right to abortion, the students’ and workers’ movements, the struggle of women of color, etc.). The films screened were also of various lengths, genres and countries. And among the rather thick program (an impressive 53 pages), there were so many hidden gems to be discovered. And discover them I did.
That was one of the most impressive parts of the festival: the fact that so many movies were shown that had been forgotten (until now). The quality of the films might not have been the greatest - but the curators always explained, almost apologetically, the reason behind the lack of quality, and the audiences naturally didn’t mind because the content and the images made up for the old, grainy, discolored filmstock. The films in the Recha Jungmann retrospective are being restored, remastered and digitized (one of the many great things the Kinothek Asta Nielsen does), but even in “lesser” quality, the images were still so powerful. Another example was the film Für Frauen, 1. Kapitel. Ein Film für Frauen, von Frauen gemacht (For Women, Chapter 1. A Movie for Women, Made by Women; Cristina Perincioli, 1971). The 28-minute “docu-fiction” was bathed in a reddish tone, but it charmed and tickled the audience with its lay actors (all except for one trained actress), realistic working class premise and satisfying conclusion when the four main female characters go on strike, which almost turns the film into a 70s music video.
The guests who introduced the films were of local and international renown and everything in between. This is no easy task, but I think the right balance was struck. To name drop a bit, the speakers included British feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey of the “male gaze” fame, German filmmaker and professor Jutta Brückner, feminist activist Tatjana Turanskyj and co-founder of Pro Quote film (Germany’s version of Time’s Up), women’s rights activist Helen Pankhurst (yes, that Pankhurst family, as in Emmeline and Sylvia, the OGs of women’s suffrage), firey speaker and feminist politician Rosemarie Heilig (Green Party, Head of the Department for Environment and Women’s Affair in Frankfurt), the Filmlöwin feminist film critic Sophie Rieger and so many others.
The main festival locations - the Deutsches Filmmuseum and the Pupille - Kino in der Uni - were well decorated, inviting and spacious enough to hold post-screening receptions that offered ample opportunities to discuss and network. And I can personally say that the events I attended were thought-provoking and inspiring, empowering and uplifting, and perhaps more importantly, made me feel like I am part of something greater.
One of the post-film discussions (following the double-bill with the Perincioli film I described above) gave audience members the chance to compare the women’s movement of the late 1960s-early 1970s with the Time’s Up/MeToo movements of the 2010s. We are essentially fighting for the same issues (sadly) but in different ways. We, the younger generation, generally do not take to the streets and demonstrate - we take out our frustration on the Internet. This might lead us to feel more isolated, despite the ease of connectivity. In the 1970s, the Frankfurt Women’s Center, for example, organized bus trips to Holland for women who wanted an abortion, took part in demonstrations on the street and dedicated so much time to discussing women’s issues together as a community.
And that is, among all the other things I mention above, what the Remake. Frankfurter Frauen Film Tage provided: a chance for so many people (because, it should be noted that there were men among the festival attendees) to come together to discuss women’s issues, and of course feminist film.
I can already say I’m looking forward to next year’s festival!