Les innocentes [Agnus Dei] (2016)

Les innocentes
Director: Anne Fontaine
Writer: Sabrina B. KarineAlice Vial, Anne Fontaine, Pascal Bonitzer
Cast: Lou de LaâgeAgata BuzekAgata KuleszaVincent MacaigneJoanna KuligEliza RycembelKatarzyna DabrowskaAnna PróchniakHelena SujeckaMira MaluszinskaDorota KudukKlara Bielawka
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 7.3.2017

Plot:
Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) works at a doctor for the red cross just after World War 2. She finds herself dispatched to Poland to take care of the concentration camp survivors and the French soldiers stationed there. It is in the hospital there that a young nun, Maria (Agata Buzek) from a near-by convent finds Mathilde and begs her to help them at the convent as well: they were raped by Russian soldiers and many of them are pregnant as a result. And not only do these pregnancies come with the usual dangers, but should anybody find out about their state, they would risk losing the convent, their home, entirely.

Les innocentes tackels a hard topic and it does so with a lot of sensitivity, but also a couple of lenghts. But I did enjoy it and the push it makes for solidarity among women.

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Ya umeyu vyazat [I Know How to Knit] (2016)

Ya umeyu vyazat
Director: Nadezhda StepanovaSergey Ivanov
Writer: Tatyana Bogatyreva
Cast: Alina KhodzhevanovaVladimir SvirskiyIrina Gorbacheva
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 3.3.2017

Plot:
Tanya (Alina Khodhzevanova) realizes one day that nothing about her life really makes sense to her. Her father is an alcoholic, her boyfriend brings other women home – while she’s there -, her mother is distant. She really has no joy in her life. Her conclusion is to attempt suicide. But it doesn’t work out that way and she finds herself in a psychiatric hospital where she starts to knit – both literally and figuratively.

I Know How to Knit was described as a dark comedy, a heartwarming tale in dire circumstances. Unfortunately, all I found were dire circumstances and depression, and very little humor.

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The Eagle Huntress (2016)

The Eagle Huntress
Director: Otto Bell
“Cast”: Aisholpan NurgaivRys NurgaivDaisy Ridley (narrator)
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 3.3.2017

Plot:
Aisholpan dreams of one thing and one thing only: she wants to become an Eagle Huntress and prove her skills in the big annual competition where all of Mongolia flocks together. The only problem is: girls don’t become Eagle Hunters. But Aisholpan’s father Rys doesn’t care too much about these traditions and he wants to see his daughter succeed as well. So together they embark on the training mission.

The Eagle Huntress tells a good story that I enjoyed watching, even through its more manipulative moments.

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Margarita with a Straw (2014)

Margarita with a Straw
Director: Shonali BoseNilesh Maniyar
Writer: Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar, Atika Chohan
Cast: Kalki KoechlinRevathySayani GuptaHussain DalalTenzing DalhaKuljeet SinghMalhar KhushuWilliam Moseley
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 3.3.2017

Plot:
Laila (Kalki Koechlin) has cerebral palsy but the much bigger issue is that she has to share her room with her brother (Malhar Khushu). Despite difficulties and worried parents (Revathy, Kuljeet Singh), she gets the opportunity to move from India to New York for her studies and that’s just what she does. Being on her own in a foreign country prompts a journey of self-discovery that leads Laila to co-student Jared (William Moseley) and Khanum (Sayani Gupta), a young blind activist from Pakistan who lives in New York.

There should be more films in the world like Margarita with a Straw: films that feature a queer, disabled women of color as their protagonists and tell a touching, funny story about them.

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Tag und Nacht [Day and Night] (2010)

Tag und Nacht
Director: Sabine Derflinger
Writer: Sabine Derflinger, Eva Testor
Cast: Anna Rot, Magdalena Kronschläger, Philipp Hochmair, Martina Spitzer, Adrian Topol, Manuel Rubey, Angelika NiedetzkyGerhard Liebmann, Karl Fischer
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 28.2.2016

Plot:
Lea (Anna Rot) and Hanna (Magdalena Kronschläger) have been best friends for a long time. So when Lea comes up with the plan that they could both work as escorts to get some easy money while they study, it’s clear that they can only do it together and that nobody around them will know. Hanna is more reluctant but the two of them start working anyway. It turns out to be quite an adventure, at least initially.

Tag und Nacht is one of many films where young women decide to try sex work and then discover that it might not be all that great, at least in a society that has such an ambivalent relationship with sex work as ours. While the film is well-executed, it felt too familiar for its own good.

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Cialo [Body] (2015)

Cialo
Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
Writer: Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert
Cast: Janusz GajosMaja OstaszewskaJustyna Suwala
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 27.2.2016

Plot:
Janusz (Janusz Gajos) lives with his daughter Olga (Justyna Suwala). Since the death of his wife Helena, their relationship has been strained: Janusz fled into his work as a district attorney and into alcohol, Olga into bulimia. Janusz tries to help her, but her resentment of him doesn’t make that easy. After Olga attempts suicide, Janusz brings her to hospital where they meet the psychiatrist Anna (Maja Ostaszewska). Anna reveals to them that she can contact the dead and offers to contact Helena for them.

Cialo was very promising in parts, but despite its tense atmosphere that is intriguingly intertwined with humor, it couldn’t keep my attention all the way through.

body-cialo

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Viikossa aikuiseksi [Adult Camp] (2015)

Viikossa aikuiseksi
Director: Johanna Vuoksenmaa
Writer: Johanna Vuoksenmaa
Cast: Minttu MustakallioTaneli MäkeläEppu SalminenIina KuustonenMinna KoskelaEssi HellénJarkko PajunenJarkko NiemiLauri TanskanenAnnaleena Sipilä
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 27.2.2016

Plot:
Saara (Minttu Mustakallio) just got divorced and needs to get out from the everyday drudgery and, preferably, get laid. So she decides to go on a weekend retreat in the form of a camp: just a group of people who don’t know each other spending some time together on a small island; a summer camp but for adults. But as the heterogenous group realizes, the promotional video might have promised too much and when the camp organizers leaves to take care of his pregnant dog, they are all quite at a loss.

Adult Camp is a funny, sweet film that manages to spend enough time with each of its characters – although the group isn’t small – that everyone gets some character development. It didn’t blow me away, but it was absolutely entertaining.

adultcamp

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The Hunting Ground (2015)

The Hunting Ground
Director: Kirby Dick
Writer: Kirby Dick
“Cast”: Andrea Pino, Annie Clark
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 27.2.2016

[Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault]

“Plot”:
The Hunting Ground takes a long, hard look at USAmerican university campuses and their treatment of rape and rape survivors. Survivors like Andrea Pino and Annie Clark who were both raped at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As if that mere fact wasn’t bad enough, the way the university handled the attacks on them was so appalling that they decided to become active so that in the future, rape survivors won’t be traumatized all over again by the way their traumatic experience is handled afterwards.

It’s not that long ago that I saw The Invisible War. With The Hunting Ground, Kirby delves yet again into the topic of rape and how it’s treated by authorities and institutions after it happened. Only that this time he turns to an institution that doesn’t meet the strict patriarchal, hypermasculine criteria like the army does (or so you’d think) and still shows the same problems all over again.

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Kalt kocht [Kalt Cooks] (2008)

Kalt kocht
Director: Eva Testor, Niki Mossböck
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 26.2.2016

“Plot”:
In 1999, Eva Testor and Niki Mossböck wanted to start a documentary cycle where they interview filmmakers (each other and others) about their creative processes and activities. They started with Jörg Kalt, who cooked them dinner and the opened up about his thoughts. It took them almost another 10 years to finish the film, which they only completed after Kalt had passed away.

The first half of the about 15 minutes of the film, we watch Kalt cooking, explaining the recipes, seeing him move in his own kitchen. It’s an effective way to get an impression of his personality and an intimate and very private look at him as a person. The second half seems a little more distanced, as he talks about his work but I quickly realized that the privacy of the setting also transferred to his disclosures. In fact, I hadn’t known before that Kalt had committed suicide, but after this short interview I was very ready to assume that he suffered from depression.

But apart from hobby-psychologing it was also intersting to hear him talk about making art, making films and what drives him. The film shows how much you can uncover when you just let smart, knowledgeable people talk (to each other).

kaltkocht

Living in a Box (2000)

Living in a Box
Director: Jörg Kalt
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 26.2.2016

“Plot”:
Almost 20 years ago, Kalt and cinematographer Eva Testor visited the Hotel 17 in New York. It was the location for Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mytery, but also provides permanent home for a few people who all ended up staying much longer than they expected. Four of those are the people they interviewed for this documentary.

Eva Testor – who was already the cinematographer for Meine Mutter war ein Metzger – told us after the film that they were actually shooting Shops Around the Corner (which took a while to finish and is coming out this year), and Living in a Box just happened in the margins of that shoot. They found four of the permanent residents, shot interviews with them (one only wanted audio recordings) and shot a bit of footage in the hotel and that’s what became the film.

Surprisingly for a film that came together quite spontaneously and is short to boot (only 30 minutes), it feels extremely well-rounded. I have seen films that don’t manage that sense of purpose, or maybe meaning is the better word, with much more extensive planning. They found extraordinary people in a fascinating place and managed to capture their respective qualities. A wonderful film.

hotel17