EN: The interview with Beatrice Behn was conducted by our editor Christina Schultz in German. Christina then translated the interview into English. You can read the original German version here.
DE: Das Interview mit Beatrice Behn wurde von unserer Chefredakteurin Christina Schultz auf Deutsch geführt. Christina selbst übersetzte das Interview auf Englisch. Du kannst die originale deutsche Version hier lesen.
Beatrice Behn is a film scholar and film reviewer. She received her degree in Film Studies at the Free University in Berlin. Her main interests in Film Studies are body cinema, gender (especially masculinities), action films and comedies. Beatrice is editor-in-chief for Kino-Zeit and writes for other publications such as VICE, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Celluloid, Indiewire, Fandor, Sissy Magazin and Königsalle. She is also a lecturer at the Free University in Berlin, a curator and a filmmaker. Her first film The Artist & The Pervert is expected to be screened in Germany by the end of the year.
Christina Schultz: Beatrice, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Our focus at Femfilmfans is women in film and in the media. Not only is your career as a film critic and film scholar interesting for us, but also your first film The Artist & The Pervert. I would, however, like to start from the beginning and talk about the film later. Can you tell us about how you discovered your passion for film?
Beatrice Behn: That’s pretty easy to explain. I was raised in the GDR and my entire film education consists of me secretly watching West German television at night. I learned quite a lot because 3sat and other stations played pretty good stuff and I believe that was my very first window to the outside world. After the Wall fell [in 1989] and I got older, this really stayed with me. Especially the idea that film allows you to travel to so many places that you otherwise can’t see, to meet so many people and to gain so many experiences that you normally wouldn’t be able to accumulate in your lifetime.
CS: Is that why you studied film?
BB: Yes. My journey through life wasn’t typical. I was in the States for a while when I was younger and I first completed my high school education in Germany at the age of 26. When I had my diploma the question became what do I really want to study? What would I like to spend years working on? Film was the only thing that I found interesting enough and that’s why I thought I should study film. I went to the Free University in Berlin for Film Studies and I think it was a good decision.
CS: What or who inspired or influenced you? What kind of films do you like?
BB: The worst question to ask a film critic! Next you’ll ask me what’s your favorite film?!
CS: No! We won’t ask this question, we swear! [laughs]
BB: It’s really hard to answer. Personally I love genre cinema, especially horror films, fantasy films, etc. I really like trashy cinema. I’m a big fan of midnight screenings and trashy films from the 1970s to the present. Those are the kinds of films I like a lot but I have less to do with them professionally. As a film critic I focus on indie and arthouse films, although I should differentiate between innovative arthouse films and commercial arthouse films, the latter of which I don’t like so much.
If I had to spontaneously name a film that’s coming out soon and really speaks to me, it would be Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here [it came to theaters in the U.S. on 6 April and in Germany on 26 April]. A film with Joaquin Phoenix as a hitman who is totally broken and suffers from PTSD. It’s an awesome movie made by a woman, wonderfully innovative, really well directed and it’s tough. Movies should change or affect you somehow and not just make you fall asleep.
CS: Definitely. You mentioned Lynne Ramsay, a female filmmaker. What are your own personal experiences as a woman in the film industry? Do you notice any differences between the roles you take on?
BB: Not really. Generally I walk into a room and I’m one of the few women present. That’s the typical experience. The other thing I experience is surprise that I’m there. It happens time and again that there are some people who either are happy that a women is doing the job or are irritated and surprised about it and ask themselves if I can do the job at all. Then there’s the part where I have to prove myself, to validate my presence and after that it’s OK. That’s the basic structure that I’ve experienced in film critique for the past ten years. Interestingly enough this is repeating itself in a similar way with the film [The Artist & The Pervert].
There is one difference, however. The film happened to come out during this time of awareness inspired by the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. I made the film together with René Gebhardt, a person who identifies as a man, but I am actually receiving more attention than him. We made a film about a very interesting topic and we are receiving lots of support from the feminist and film critic camps that specifically support women’s films. And that’s really new and totally amazing.
Tomorrow you can read the exciting conclusion of our interview with Beatrice Behn where she talks about her film The Artist & The Pervert! If you just can’t wait to learn about the film, check out the trailer. See you tomorrow!