The question of who can speak for whom, under what conditions and for what purpose remains hotly topical. A question that also arises, when selecting the works to be shown at the Dortmund | Cologne IWFF. The visibility of women alone is not criterion enough; it’s all about the approach with which women and men are depicted and which realities are thereby generated.
An unformatted narrative style will permit spaces, make possible stories that do not refl ect the norm and explore hitherto undreamt-of ways of life – other ones, perhaps happy outcomes. History as she is: fragmentary and inconclusive. But what if fi lms ask more questions than they give answers? Th en that renders essential an active seeing on the part of the viewers: »To see is to be touched and penetrated by light,« says Shelly Silver who tells in Touch the story of a fi ctitious character in documentary-film form and thus tackles the old question of what reality actually is and how it is representable.
Another answer is provided by Jasmila Žbanić in For Those Who Can Tell No Tales. Those here who cannot tell their stories are Bosnian women. Thanks to clever mise-enscène, Ms Žbanić succeeds in speaking for the women and addressing the war crimes committed against them, without having to re-cast the women in the fi lm as victims.
In the adventurous fi eld of fi lm work, the women artists are prepared to take risks. Th ese are brave, artistic interventions whatever the reasons behind them. Possibly because they are radically personal (Chiri) and yet go beyond the banality of an individual’s everyday existence. Katarina Schröter (The Visitor) expresses her creative self-understanding thus: »Beyond the rule and beyond the role is for me a state I am tracking, is a state that I would defi ne for myself as artistic freedom.« A prime example of an artist who never shies away from risk is Mara Mattuschka. In Perfect Garden, her current collaboration with choreographer Chris Haring and his dancers, she has invented a new kind of dance fi lm. And Elisabeth Klocker, in her portrait entitled Mara Mattuschka – the Different Faces of an Anti-Diva manages to capture Ms Mattuschka’s life and work in all its versatility. Resistant in the best sense are some of protagonists as well. People like Majub, a fi lm extra from Africa who worked in Nazi Germany and whom director Eva Knopf expertly moves from the margin of history to its centre-stage. People like Noor in Pakistan who has been able, almost as a matter of course, to prevail against the normativity of gender.
The career move taken by sex worker Jacky at the end of Top Girl or La déformation professionnelle leaves a bitter aftertaste. For the self-empowerment she shows – as she progresses from the role of whore to that of pimp – bears post-feminist traits as proposed by Angela Mc Robbie. Her analysis3 shows how women can be appropriated as working consumers to the detriment of feminist politics. Tatjana Turanskyj uses techniques of alienation and stylisation to narrate the prostitution of her heroine in a non-naturalistic way. She is interested in the structures behind economic dependency relationships.
My vagina belongs to me, so why shouldn’t I have cosmetic surgery if I want to? »Th e fact that the ‘want to’ is probably not entirely free from social constraints is currently hardly refl ected on.« Vulva 3.0 – Between Taboo and Finetuning relates the history of the female sex anew and exposes one irritating phenomenon of the post-feminist argument. Th e call for self-determination over one’s own body is somehow countermanded if women merely delegate their power to the fashion and beauty industry … and live to its phantasm of femininity.
In such a political climate, the fi lms on show in Panorama are wilfully awkward, beautiful and resistant.

_Betty Schiel

Virtuos Virtuell

Maja Oschmann, Thomas Stellmach

Animation film

Maja Oschmann and Thomas Stellmach use Virtuos Virtuell to illustrate the overture to the opera The Alchymist by the composer […]

Vulva 3.0 – Between Taboo and Fine-Tuning

Claudia Richarz, Ulrike Zimmermann


»›Showing the vulva scares off bears and lions, makes wheat grow higher, calms storm tides and demons fear it. The […]

Working to Beat the Devil

Chu-Li Shewring, Adam Gutch

Short film

»There must have been some strange error in these experiments, the solution must have been too strong.« An ageing scientist, […]