Press releases

Welcome to the IWFF Dortmund | Cologne press section!

This site provides the festival’s current press releases. All releases are available. If you do not find a particular information, please contact Stefanie Görtz via press[at]

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Press releases as download (pdf):

29 March 2021: Online discussion "Free the Gaze! A best practice discussion on cinematic emancipation" on April 21st 2021

23 February 2021: New name, new look and a rescheduled festival date in June 2021

17 February 2020: International Début Feature Film Competition

05 February 2020: First award-winners and programme highlights

30 January 2020: Opening & Key Visual 2020

29 January 2020: Focus: After the Reunification: Germany 1990|2020

17 December 2019: Berlinale: The Other Story: Feminist Scripts in Cinema Now


The Awardees of the 36th Dortmund | Cologne IWFF

08 March Specials 2019

05 March 2019: International Feature Film Competition

31 January 2019: Focus: Image traps: Illusion, camouflage, masquerade

18 October 2018: Dortmund | Cologne IWFF 2019 appoints new director

29 April 2018: Award Winners 2018

9. April 2018: Program 2018

12. March 2018: Competition Women Directors of Photography

23. February 2018: Berlinale-Panel: WE WANT MORE - Diversity and Visibility

29. January 2018: Focus: About Germany

11. April 2017: Award Winners 2017

10 March 2017: Focus: IN CONTROL...of the situation

24 April 2016: Award Winners 2016

14 April 2016: Festival guests 2016

8 March 2016: Debut Feature Film Competition for Women Directors

8 March 2016: The program of 2016

19. April 2015: Awardess 2015

20. March 2015: Podiums Discussion: "Women in Male-Dominated Areas – Do We Need the Quota?"

13. March 2015: RWE Film Award / Competition for Women Directors

19. February 2015: Get NetWorked Up

29. January 2015: Thematic focus: COMFORT

14. April 2014: Awardess 2014

18. March 2014: Competition Women Director of Photography

07. March 2014: Debut Feature Film Competition

07. March 2014: Focus: Turkey

07. March 2014: Section Panorama

07. March 2014: Section desired!

07. March 2014: Specials



Older press releases:

17 April 2011: Awardees 2011

Ambivalence welcome – The Dortmund│Cologne International Women's Film Festival 2011 wraps up this year's highly political programme

Athina Rachel Tsangari's Attenberg receives the International Feature Film award and a prize of €25,000

This year's Dortmund│Cologne International Women's Film Festival was brought to a close on 17 April 2011 with a ceremony conferring no fewer than four awards worth a total of €41,000. The event was held in the "RWE Forum | Kino im U" – the cinema in the new Dortmund U arts centre.

The award of €25,000 for Best Feature Film went to Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari for her film Attenberg, a story of friendship, life's joys and loss narrated with a distanced minimalism and splendid visuals. As such, it was the first German screening in Dortmund –and for the Argentinian entry La Mosca En La Ceniza (The Fly in the Ashes) by Gabriela David, which was singled out for a special mention.

This year, the jury was made up of actress Maren Kroymann, blog journalist Melissa Silverstein and Claudia Landsberger, the director of the EYE Film Institute in the Netherlands. This is what the jury said about Attenberg

"The jury of the International Women’s Film Festival awards the jury prize to Athina Rachel Tsangari for her audacious film Attenberg. In this fresh and innovative film, Ms Tsangari gives birth to an original female character, Marina – wonderfully performed by Ariana Lebed – a 23-year-old young woman who must always tell the truth even to her detriment. She is an outsider, a keen observer of humanity and best sees the world through the animal documentaries of Sir David Attenborough. Marina comes to life sexually and in the world as her beloved father prepares to depart from life. In homage to her Greek heritage, but with a modern twist, Ms Tsangari weaves musical and dance interludes throughout the film that both interrupt and propel the action forward. The jury applauds Ms Tsangari’s bold vision of a new type of young woman, one who questions and challenges and one we would like to see more of in the future."

Here’s what the jury said about La Mosca En La Ceniza

"The jury awards a special mention to La Mosca En La Ceniza (The Fly in the Ashes) for highlighting sex trafficking especially of young women, an uncomfortable topic seen in many documentaries but not in features. Director Gabriela David shows how trafficking is happening all around us in every country in all types of neighbourhoods and that this gross violation of human rights must be addressed seriously at the highest levels of government."

Athina Rachel Tsangari was in Dortmund personally to pick up the award, donated by the RWE Vertrieb AG, a power company. For its part, La Mosca En La Ceniza was introduced in Dortmund by Enrique Angeleri, producer of the film and husband of Ms David. In her name, he also accepted the award, which was presented by Dr Hanns-Ferdinand Müller, the spokesperson at RWE Vertrieb.

National Competition for Women Directors of Photography
The winners of this year's Dortmund Award for Women Directors of Photography were Eva Maschke for her cinematography to the documentary film Frauenzimmer (directed by Saara Aila Waasner) and Hanne Klaas for her cinematography to the documentary film Ole (which she also directed). They both received €2,5000. Maria Goinda was given a special mention for the cinematography to her film Cartonera (which she also directed). Sitting on the jury this time round were Sophie Maintigneux, Daniela Knapp and Stephanie Hardt, professional directors of photography themselves.

First Dortmund Documentary Film Award goes to Helga Reidemeister
Berlin film-maker Helga Reidemeister was similarly honoured for her life's work – with the new Dortmund Documentary Film Award. The new award comes with prize money of €10,000 donated by Sparkasse Dortmund who were represented here by Gabriele Kroll, a member of the management board.

Audience Prize
Endowed with €1,000 donated by trailer, a listings magazine, the Audience Prize was awarded to film director Ariane Astrid Atodj from Cameroon for her documentary film Koundi et le jeudi national (Koundi and the National Thursday), a charming portrait of a village and a work free of all the usual clichés about Africa. Eligible for nomination was any film shown at the festival land longer than sixty minutes.

Prominent guests invited to the Awards Ceremony included: Dr Angelica Schwall-Düren, North Rhine-Westphalian Minster for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media; Birgit Jörder. Mayor of Dortmund; and Dr Ingrid Stoppa-Sehlbach, Cultural Attaché at the State Chancellery of NRW.

The 2011 Festival in Review

With its theme of Now What – Films about Getting out of Here, this year's festival set out to present a series of artistic responses to the crucial issues of our time. It was a huge success. The spectrum of topics behind that overriding theme was impressively wide, as all manner of talks, concerts, workshops and a mobile festival laboratory – in addition to the array of films that a festival always entails – aimed to provide the audience with reasons to get up and do something. Local groups who now intend "to do something" have been integrated as film mentors. The festival even became a platform for voices that are frequently not heard. During discussions about the film Hotel Rai, for example, spokespersons from KOBER, the communication and advice centre for prostitutes, and from Planerladen, an association for the promotion of democratic town planning, used the occasion to publicise their views about the current situation in Dortmund North away from the standard political discourse,

There was another new development at the festival this year as the larger number of venues spread a wider net across Dortmund. The festival team would like to express their thanks for the pleasant and successful cooperation with the cinemas involved – sweetSixteen, Roxy, Schauburg, CineStar and Dortmund U, whose new cinema was used by festival for the first time.

The next edition of the International Women's Film Festival will take place Cologne in April 2012.

Festival sponsors
The Ministry of Family Affairs, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia; the Culture Bureau of the City of Dortmund; the City of Cologne; the NRW Film Foundation; the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth; and the NRW Ministry of Health, Emancipation, Nursing Care & Senior Citizens.


21 March 2011: The Film Directors at Feature Film Competition 2011

Bold and committed: Women Film Directors Tackle Hot Topics at Feature Film Competition 2011

The Dortmund | Cologne International Women's Film Festival 2011 is to present its feature women directors' feature film award for the fourth time. The aim of the award – which comes with prize money of €25,000 – is to honour the work of those women film-makers who have succeeded in continuing to produce fiction features that impress by way of content and style.

As ever, the prize money has been endowed by RWE Vertrieb AG, a power company, but this year – for the first time – the prize will be split between the winning film director (€15,000) and the distribution company (€10,000) and so advance the promotion of such top-quality films on the cinema circuit in Germany.

Four of the eight films in the competition are premieres here in Germany – the Belgian entry, for example, Noir Océan (Black Ocean) by Marion Hänsel, which examines the French nuclear bomb tests on the Mururoa Atolls, or the Greek drama film Attenberg by Athina Rachel Tsangari, which has already picked up a number of awards. Many of the competition films would slot seamlessly into the thematic field of this year's festival: Now What – Films about getting out off here. For all the directors tackle controversial subjects and adopt a clear stance in the process. They uncover social wrongs, show the consequences of political injustice and deliver stylish and challenging analyses of the gender divide in the 21st century.

The following films have been nominated for the best feature film award, which is to be conferred in Dortmund on 17 April.

Attenberg (German Premiere)
Athina Rachel Tsangari, GR 2010, 95'

Marina, 23, is growing up with her architect father in a prototype factory town by the sea. Finding the human species strange and repellent, she keeps her distance. Instead she chooses to observe it through the songs of Suicide, the mammal documentaries of Sir David Attenborough, and the sex-education lessons she receives from her only friend, Bella.
A stranger comes to town and challenges her to a table football duel, on her own table. Her father meanwhile ritualistically prepares for his exit from the 20th century, which he considers to be »overrated«. Caught between the two men and her collaborator, Bella, Marina investigates the wondrous mystery of the human fauna. Athina Rachel Tsangari is going to present her film in Dortmund.

Brownian Movement
Nanouk Leopold, NL 2010, 100'

Charlotte (Sandra Hüller) is a doctor in a laboratory of the Brussels University Hospital. She is married and has a child. In an apartment that she has rented, she has casual sex with some of her patients. These are men who contravene conventional ideals of beauty, because they are old, hairy or extremely fat. Sleeping with them for her is almost like a scientific experiment. When her husband Max finds out about this, it is not only their marriage that is at risk of disintegrating. The couple turn to therapy. They search for words, for rational explanations. But Charlotte cannot, and does not want to describe her desires in words. Finally, the family makes a new start, in India, where Max works as an architect. Sandra Hüller plays her character, who hides a secret, with great intensity. She is vulnerable yet tough, sensitive yet untouchable.
Nanouk Leopold who participated with her former piece Wolfsbergen in the Dortmund competition in 2007, narrates her film again with a strict formality and confident style. Nanouk Leopold is going to present her film in Dortmund.

Zuzana Liová, CZ 2010, 97'

Imrich has a present for his youngest daughter Eva: Almost single-handedly he is building a house for her, right next to his own. But Eva dreads having to move in there. She is about to leave school, and has quite different plans than living under the constant gaze of her grumpy control-freak of a father. Dom is a precise and quite humorous environmental study of a family in the rural part of Slovakia that doesn't talk. To the backdrop of social transformation and impermanence in post-Communist society, Zuzana Liová unfolds a generational conflict in which the different values and interests of two generations collide. Zuzana Liová is going to present her film in Dortmund.

La mosca en la ceniza / The Fly in the Ashes (German Premiere)
Gabriela David, ARG 2010, 98'

The two young women Nancy and Pato leave their village in the northwest of Argentina in the belief that they will earn money with a cleaning job in Buenos Aires. Once they arrive, they realise that they have been duped, and find themselves in a brothel. Imprisoned in the claustrophobic and brutal atmosphere of an apartment in a very middle class area, their hopes of a better future seem to be far away. Through the window they can see people going about their lives, but nobody helps them. Pato reacts violently, and is mercilessly bullied for this. Nancy, naive but at the same time pragmatic, adjusts better to her new situation. In her film, based on true events, Gabriela David focuses on the close relationship between the two girls.
Audience Award at the Innsbruck Film Festival 2010. The director
Gabriela David died in November 2010. Her husband and producer Enrique Angeleri is going to present the film in Dortmund.

Lo spazio bianco / The White Space
Francesca Comencini, I 2009, 98'

Maria works as a teacher and lives alone. After a one-night-stand she becomes pregnant, but the baby is born prematurely and it is questionable whether her daughter will survive. She spends two months in the hospital by her side, waiting. Waiting to see whether her daughter will live or die. But Maria is used to living her own life and making her own decisions. The months she spends hoping that her daughter will be able to leave the incubator are demoralising. In the loneliness of this spazio bianco, a room surrounded by white curtains, Maria tries to confront her existential fears, find her inner peace and dedicate herself to her child who is in need of protection.
Lo Spazio Bianco is based on the short story of the same name by Valeria Parrella. Actress Antonia Truppo is going to present the film in Dortmund.

Noir Océan / Black Ocean (German premiere)
Marion Hänsel, B 2010, 85'

In 1972, Massina, Moriaty and di Maggio volunteer to work on board a French marine vessel. It sets sail for the Pacific Mururoa Atoll, where atomic tests are to be carried out. The three men are inexperienced, and are aware of neither the personal risks in this operation, nor of the dramatic consequences for the planet. In an environment characterised by violence and discipline, boredom, loneliness and despair, the elder Moriaty makes friends with slightly childish Massina. A relationship of silent trust unfolds between them. Marion Hänsel adapted two autobiographical short stories for the script by Hubert Mignarelli, who joined the French Navy and volunteered to be posted to the Mururoa Atoll. Her former film Si le vent soulève les sables participated in the competition 2007. Marion Hänsel is going to present the film in Dortmund.

Richting West (German premiere)
Nicole van Kilsdonk, NL 2010, 90'

A year in the life of a resident of a European city. A year in the life of a single mother. A year in the life of a single woman. Claire buzzes around Rotterdam on her bike with its children's seat. Her marriage with Rolf came to a violent end, and now she lives on her own with her small son Milan. She loves her child, her life is well organised, but sometimes she has yearnings. After he has chained his bike to hers, she gets to know Thomas, and they embark on an affair. With infatuation and all the joys of that initial sparkle of love. Thomas is good-looking and gets on well with Milan and with the neighbours. Just as Claire is gradually beginning to think that the relationship is working out, Thomas withdraws, disappearing and evading commitment. Richting West is a succinct and feminist film essay about life and love in the city of today. Susann Visser plays the role of Claire undramatically and with great sensitività. Nicole van Kilsdonk is going to present the film in Dortmund.

También la lluvia / Even the Rain
Icíar Bollaín, E/F/Mex 2010, 104'

Sebastián (Gael García Bernal) is an idealistic and slightly naive director who is planning to make a film about Christoph Columbus, debunking the myth that western civilisation may have brought anything good to Latin America. Instead he wants to show what Columbus set in motion: the thirst for gold, the slave trade and terrible violence against the indigenous population. Sebastián's friend and producer, Costa, is only interested in the film staying within budget and being completed on time. For this reason he produces the film in Bolivia, the poorest and most »Indian« country in South America. During shooting in the city of Cochabamba there is unrest because the local water supply has been privatised by an Anglo-American company. Violence escalates through the city: 500 years after Columbus, the Indian population, with nothing but sticks and stones, again confronts a heavily armed modern army. This time the fight is about the most basic of all resources: water. También la lluvia provides a skilfully staged analysis of the topicality of colonial myths and the reality of today's social struggles. Panorama Audience Award 2011 at the Berlin Film Festival.


21 March 2011: Prominent Jury of the Feature Film Competition 2011

Prominent Jury of the International Feature Film Competition for Women Directors 2011

Maren Kroymann
Maren Kroymann is one of the most diverse artists in the German entertainment landscape. She became well-known nationwide at the beginning of the 80s with Oh Gott, Herr Pfarrer. From 1993 to 1997, she was the first and only woman in German television to make her own satire programme, Nachtschwester Kroymann. Since then, she has worked on numerous film and television productions, most recently in Doris Dörrie's series Klimawechsel. In the cinema film Verfolgt, from 2006, she played a probation officer who becomes involved in a sadomasochistic relationship with her underage charge. For this role she was awarded the Darstellerpreis der Deutschen Filmkritik. In the course of her career, Maren Kroymann has continually hit out against conventional role clichées. In 2000, she was awarded the Berlin Women's Award for her feminist cabaret. Maren Kroymann also works as a narrator and since 2000 has been on tour with the programme Used Songs. The festival is presenting her artistic work with the portrait Independent-minded Actresses, this is an extensive talk and the screening of her most important feature film Verfolgt (Hounded) from 2006 by Angelina Maccarone.

Claudia Landsberger
Claudia Landsberger from the Netherlands is one of the most important protagonists in the European film branch. She works in the areas of production, development, marketing and communication for film production companies all across Europe, where she has set the standards on matters of content and structure: she sat on many film grant committees and curated programmes for film festivals. Since 1995, she has worked at the Eye International Institute, where she is responsible for the worldwide promotion of Dutch film productions. In 1997, she was co-founder, and for 12 years president of the European Film Promotion (EFP) – the umbrella organisation of European film marketing – of which she is now vice-president. There, she plays an important role in the profiling of European cinema. In November 2010, she was awarded for her lifetime work with the Industry Award at the European Film Festival in Seville. In the words of the laudation: »(...) she has applied wisdom and tenacity to the promotion of European cinema so that it can cross borders (...)«

Melissa Silverstein
American born Melissa Silverstein is a marketing consultant, writer and journalist, and writes one of the most influential blogs about film women: In 2010 she was one of the ten most followed film critics on Twitter, according to Flavorwire. She has a wide ranging commitment to women’s issues: she sits on the boards of Women’s Media Center and Women, Action & Media (WAM!), and is also a member of NY Women in Film and TV. She designs and produces the Athena Film Festival at Barnard College in New York City, which focused in February 2011 on the situation of women in executive positions. As an expert in the field of social media marketing, she created numerous campaigns, including for the films Dancing Across Borders, Bright Star or Bend It Like Beckham. She also designed high-profile educational campaigns such as Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work or the Pro Choice Public Education Project. Melissa Silverstein was chief of staff to the Ms. Foundation for Women and founder and project manager of the White House Project.


8 March 2011: 6. Dortmund Award for Women Directors of Photography

The Award Goes To Eva Maschke and Hanne Klaas – Winning Films To Be Screened at the Festival

Just under 30 films lined up last week for the final round of the Sixth Dortmund Award for Women Directors of Photography. In the event, the three-woman jury – Sophie Maintigneux, Daniela Knapp and Stephanie Hardt– were so impressed with the overall quality of the documentary films submitted that it was decided to split the main prize and make an honourable mention.

Endowed with €5000, the prize for best cinematography is thus divided equally between Eva Maschke for her work on the film Frauenzimmer and Hanne Klaas for her work on Ole.

The Frauenzimmer documentary takes a look at the extraordinary and (in part) surprisingly bourgeois everyday lives of three prostitutes in Berlin. In the jury's opinion, Ms Maschke's impressive cinematography made a large contribution to maintaining the dignity and beauty of the protagonists. The camera was allowed to operate on a self-assured basis without becoming voyeuristic or judgmental. Ole is a very personal and moving film in which Ms Klaas tells the story of her brother's suicide in 1991 and its effect on family life. She develops a rigorous and sophisticated cinematography that, in interaction with the soundtrack, unfolds an emotional power while allowing viewers space for their own thoughts.

Maria Goinda, who actually comes from Dortmund, receives an Honorable Mention for the cinematography to Cartonera. Using a hand-held camera, she accompanies children through the streets of Buenos Aires as they collect old paper. In that process, she manages to get close to the children and permit us an intimate insight into their survival strategies.

The three winning films are to be presented during the festival with the Awards Ceremony taking place in Dortmund on 17 April 2011.

Director of Photography: Eva Maschke
Frauenzimmer [D 2009, documentary film, 75 min, directed by Saara Aila Waasner]
Christel, Paula and Karolina not only work in the world's oldest profession: they themselves are rated as "old hands" at the business in Berlin. Their multifaceted personalities reflect the different ways they approach prostitution and why they have opted for a career as sex workers.

What the jury said: "Eva Maschke succeeds in showing that the banality of everyday life is perhaps not so banal. She demonstrates a special talent for using the light available and, in the interview sequences, creates atmospheric images with the set light. We get a real sense of fruitful collaboration between the director of photography and the film director […]."

Eva Maschke was born 1976 in Cologne. She now works as a cinematographer and film director. A qualified physiotherapist, she worked for the South West German Broadcasting Corporation (SWR) in Baden-Baden as a film loader and camera assistant and studied cinematography at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy. In 2007, she won the German Camera Award for her work on Roaming Around, a documentary directed by Brigitte Bertele.

Director of Photography: Hanne Klaas
Ole [D 2011, documentary film, 102 min, directed by Hanne Klaas]
Eighteen years after her brother committed suicide in 1991, Ms Klaas decided to make this film – and break the family silence. His absence still felt, how does the family cope with the loss? Ole narrates of departure and mourning but also of the attempt to let go and start afresh.

What the jury said: "Not everything is illuminated straight off. Half-shadow, darkness and sharp contrast are Ms Klaas's preferred stylistic devices. […] Clearly framed, a fine use of lenses, thoughtfully lit. All of which makes of a personal story a cinematic experience."

Hanne Klaas, born 1982 in Siegen, completed her study of audiovisual media and cinematography at the Beuth Berlin University of Applied Sciences in 2010 – with Ole as the graduation piece. She is currently studying European Film & Media in Weimar, Lyon and Utrecht

Honourable Mention
Director of Photography: Maria Goinda

Cartonera [D/AR 2010, documentary film, 35 min, directed by Maria Goinda]
Cartonera shows a hard day in the life of eight-years-old Marlen and her siblings. Each day, they ride from the uptown slums into the Buenos Aires city centre where, until well after midnight, they gather any rubbish worth recycling and so help the family to survive. An unimaginably tough life but Marlen still has a dream.

What the jury said: "Maria Goinda accompanies the children with a serenity expressed via her outstanding hand-held camera. Against the typically uncontrollable situation you find with any documentary film, she succeeds in establishing an appropriate pictorial language."

Maria Goinda, born 1977 in Dortmund, read German literature at the Ruhr University of Bochum, completed a training programme as audio and video media designer and also studied film and television in the Faculty of Design at the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences. Cartonera is her graduation piece.


Dortmund Documentary Film Award - donated by Sparkasse Dortmund

To mark the 20th anniversary of the ongoing cooperation between the Sparkasse Dortmund and the Dortmund | Cologne International Women's Film Festival, it has been decided to set up a €10,000 Dortmund Documentary Film Award – sponsored by the Sparkasse Dortmund – for the first time. Aimed at honouring the oeuvre of a European documentary film-maker, the award is directed at women directors for their longstanding services to the documentary film genre in Europe. During the nomination and selection process, attention will be paid to those documentary film-makers who have established themselves in the long term and who have thus made an outstanding contribution to the formal language of the genre and to analysing the social topics of our time.

The award is donated by the Sparkasse Dortmund and will be conferred in Dortmund every two years. The first presentation will be made on 17 April 2011. The name of the award-winner 2011 will be announced via presse release shortly before the festival begins.


22 November: Women's Film Festival to Promote Cinema Release

The prize money awarded at the International Feature Film Competition for Women Directors is in future to be split between the film director and the film distributor.

In 2011, the Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival will for the first time divide the prize money of €25,000 for best current film by a female director – i.e. €15,000 for the film-maker and €10,000 for the German distribution company.

The festival management team, together with RWE Vertrieb AG, the sponsor, are thus responding to a curious situation where many award-winning and indeed important films – made by women directors – never actually find their way into cinemas in Germany. "We are hoping that the prospect of €10,000 as a start-up grant will persuade various film distribution companies to launch a film in German cinemas as well. Our main aim is to make films directed by women more accessible to a large public beyond the film festival," said festival-director Silke J. Räbiger explaining the new move.

In recognition of women film directors who have succeeded over the years in building up a consistent oeuvre and in asserting themselves on the market, the award has been presented, with the support of RWE Vertrieb AG, on a biennial basis in Dortmund since 2005. This is in tandem with the International Debut Feature Film Competition which takes place at the Cologne venue, also every two years. After the award was won in 2005 by Keren Yedaya for Or (My Treasure) and in 2007 by Andrea Arnold for Red Road, it went to Maren Ade for Alle Anderen (Everyone Else) in 2009.

Eight international feature film productions, which have not yet been released in German cinemas, will be shortlisted for the women film directors' competition which comes with the highest prize money of its kind. The winner is chosen by a jury made up of three members active in the film business worldwide.

Deadline for entries is 7 January 2011.


April 18th: Italian Debut Film Cosmonauta wins Fiction Feature Award

The women's film festival was a huge success, again proving its worth as a lively, unmissable forum for film-makers from all over the world.

This year's Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival came to a close at the Cologne's Filmforum cinema with the awards ceremony which included the International Feature Film Competition for Women Directors and the Audience Prize. Endowed with €10,000, the main prize was awarded to Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli for her feature film debut of Cosmonauta It's 1963, the era of the space race between the USA and the USSR, and the first woman to travel into space is Valentina Tereshkova. But in this coming-of-age story, Ms Nicchiarelli tells of the 15-year-old Luciana, a fervent admirer of Russian space travel. When she joins the local Young Communists Group, the struggle begins – to get her arguments heard, her female identity acknowledged and the group leader's attentions!

The members of the international jury – Barbara Albert (director and producer, Austria) and Dr Jessica Eisermann (WDR TV journalist, Germany) and Mirjana Karanović (actor, Serbia) justified their decision as follows: "The main award goes to a film that persuaded us most – thanks to the affectionate view it takes towards its leading character and thanks to the still political relevance of the theme. At a time when strong female role models and the women's movement had not yet got off the ground, this unconventional lead character makes her way in a male–dominated world. The director uses subtle humour in her multi-layered debut film to create room for a contrarian figure without wagging a moral finger." The jury also gave an honourable mention to the Canadian entry Les signes vitaux (Vital Signs) by Sophie Deraspe and thus paid tribute to a "story about life which is set with great courage amid the dying. What impressed us here was the poignancy of the visual language used by the director to portray the realm between life and death – a highly unusual and moving film."

The jury was altogether impressed by the first-class quality of the eight films submitted for the 2010 edition of the International Feature Film Competition. Remarkable in each of the films was the closeness to the figures, the gift of observation shown by the women film-makers and an alertness to unusual indeed disturbing moments.

Since the festival was not spared the effects of the volcanic events in Iceland, some of the film-makers could not complete the journey to Cologne. Susanna Nicchiarelli in particular was not on hand to receive her award in person and was represented at the official awards ceremony by Italian journalist Luciana Cagliotti (WDR Funkhaus Europa). Luckily, Sophie Deraspe was present to hear the news of her honourable mention.

Audience Award
The Audience Prize (for works longer than 50 minutes) comes with €1,000 donated by Choices magazine and went to the US film directors Susan Muska and Greta Óláfsdóttir for their film Edie & Thea - A Very Long Engagement
Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer have already been a couple for 42 years when they get married in Canada. Edie and Thea look back over the pictures of their life together and recall the moment they first met. Their story begins in the pre-Stonewall days of the early 1960s. One day, Thea plucks up courage to ask a close girlfriend where all the lesbians go. It is a time of secret bars, private parties and the fear of discovery. Susan Muska and Gréta Olafsdóttir, who caused a stir with their documentary The Brandon Teena Story, again tell a true story, this time one with a happy ending. The directors have made an atmospheric portrait, full of pictures, of a couple who fought all their lives both for their own love and for the social recognition of lesbian/gay communities and love.

Some film-makers had not been able to get to Cologne for this year's festival. Yet it was thanks to the volcano that Susan Muska and Greta Olafsdóttir did stay on in Cologne and were able to receive their prize in person from Rüdiger Schmidt-Sodingen of Choices. Otherwise, they would have flown back to New York on Saturday. Now, along with others, they are "stranded" in Cologne and can enjoy the early-summer sunshine on the banks of the River Rhine. The prize thus went to a film screened in the desired! film lust and queer section at the festival:

Festival Director Silke Räbiger was delighted with the course of this year's festival in Cologne. "We sense a high degree of acceptance among our audiences who appreciate both the closeness to film-makers and the various get-together discussion opportunities. Also, as we bring together film-makers, journalists and festival colleagues from all over the world, our emphasis on networking is hugely important in terms of sustainable festival work. And so you experience the festival as a really lively place of encounter and debate." Indeed, many women film directors are becoming increasingly vocal about a broad social forum for their work, viewing critically the situation in the film industry and related work possibilities.

This year too, the many works on show in the desired! film lust & queer section acted as a magnet on spectators. Many screenings were sold out.

The Country Focus section, this year Around the Balkans, also found particular resonance with the festival viewers and the media. Our analysis of the post-war film work of women film directors provided many new insights as well as an enhanced understanding of the life situation of the people in this region. Not least, the section aroused great interest among the Serbs, Croatians, Bulgarians and Bosnians (…) living here in Germany. Popular Serbian film actress Mirjana Karanović spontaneously sat in on the BALKAN QUEER PRIDE panel, also understaffed due to volcanic disruption. Ms Karanović is one of the few celebrities in the Balkans who has committed to the gay and lesbian cause which, with its growing self-awareness and visibility, has been exposed to a string of violent attacks since the end of the war.

Number of visitors
With 6,500 spectators, the festival can report a stable number of visitors. The Cologne branch of the festival, one day shorter than its sister at the Dortmund location, had to make do with ten fewer programme slots than in 2008 due to budget and venue considerations. The schools section, however, recorded a significant growth in that its six performances attracted over 600 school students, thus building on all the work put into film education at the Cologne location too.

The festival team would like to take this opportunity of thanking the Cologne arthouse cinemas – Filmforum im Museum Ludwig, Filmpalette, Odeon and OFF Broadway – for all their cooperation in making the festival such a pleasant and successful event.

The next edition of Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival will take place in Dortmund in April 2011.


16 March 2010

Films from Southern Europe at the Women's Film Festival in Cologne

Over the recent years, women film directors from the Balkans region have increasingly made a name for themselves and notched up major festival successes. At the Berlin Film Festival 2006, for example Jasmila Zbanic; took away the Golden Lion for her film GRBAVICA. The Dortmund | Cologne International Women's Film Festival 2010 is therefore delighted to continue this development and provide the women directors from Southern Europe with their own wide-reaching platform in our Country Focus: Around the Balkans.

We will be showcasing still topical works of the last eight years, films of varying lengths and genres that put a whole new perspective on a region hitherto not too well-known for its films. The aim of the Country Focus section is to trace the narrative and aesthetic characteristics, the specific production conditions and the political implications of the films and, as neighbours here in Western Europe, to come into closer dialogue with the film-makers.

Despite marked differences between the films, certain themes tend to resurface – often laced with a prise of self-irony and a look, without those famous rose-tinted spectacles, at the absurdities of everyday life. One significant aspect dealt with by films from the countries of the former Yugoslavia is the after-effects of the war. What are the consequences for the individual? A question the women directors repeatedly turn to. At the same time, it's also a matter of regaining the power over images and definitions and of being able to show, at last, things downplayed in official versions.

I Feature Films
The festival opens with the latest film from Jasmila Zbanic, NA PUTU (On the Path / Production: Pandora, Cologne) which enjoyed its worldwide premiere in the competitor section at this year's Berlin Film Festival. It's the story of Amar and Luna whose dream of a future together and a child together begins to fade. An old army friend gets the now-unemployed Amar a job with a Wahabist organisation. As he then turns radical, the relationship between the two lovers becomes increasingly problematic.

SNOW by Aida Begic; is the story of Slavno, an abandoned village in which the remaining six women, one old man and five children are struggling to survive and sound out the possibilities of reconstruction, resistance and freedom. Plum jam and other fruit & veg products might just offer some kind of new basis. This debut feature film, with it documentary touch and fantastical elements, is a good picture of the post-war situation in Bosnia: It won Le Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique at the Cannes Film Festival 2008

DOES IT HURT? – The First Balkan Dogme Film also testifies to the efforts of a new generation of women film-makers daring to experiment with style and develop their own film language. In her debut feature film, the Macedonian video artist, VJane and producer Aneta Lesnikovska translates her life and that of her friends into a fictional experimental set-up. It alls starts with a lie: the go-ahead from a foreign producer has arrived, and Aneta and her friends can start to shoot the long-awaited film. So just how do you realise your dream of a making a film without funds and infrastructure in a Macedonia beset with economic problems?

Many films from countries once part of the Eastern European block convey not just an impression of life's reality as-is. They also present snapshots of the prevailing mood in post-socialist societies caught up in transformation. THE INVESTIGATION, a cop movie, is impressive for its edginess and remarkable lead character – Alexandra Yakimova, an awkward and brittle detective inspector played by Svetla Yancheva who, asked to solve a murder case, is soon drawn into the structures underlying the crime, thanks to the persistence of her investigation. Bulgarian film director Iglika Trifonova also tackles the theme of solitude and ways-out in this multi-award-winning film.

The same region also makes a contribution to the School Films section with TEAH, a kids' adventure film shot in powerful pictures by Slovenian film-maker Hanna Slak.

II Documentaries
The documentaries to be seen in the Country Focus section raise issues of historical upheaval and national identity – from a variety of different angles, of course. In WHOSE IS THIS SONG? director Adela Peeva embarks on a trip through most of Southern Europe. She takes with her a recording of a well-known folk song much loved in many Balkan countries. However, in her attempt to find our more about the origins of the song, she comes up against all kinds of reactions. Her research encounters funny and curious but also threatening responses. The film makes quite clear what levels of extreme nationalism still exist in many parts of Europe.

A BRIDGE ACROSS THE RIVER TIZSA would link two village communities – the Romanian Sighet and the Ukrainian Slatina. Destroyed by the Germans in the Second World War, the bridge was indeed rebuilt in the 1990s with EU grant-aid. Yet it may now not be crossed due to the lack of customs posts. Moreover, with Slovenia joining the EU, controls at the border to Ukraine have been stepped up. An intolerable situation for the inhabitants and a piece of Absurdistan in Eastern Europe. Thus it is that Romanian film director Ileana Stanculescu in her film PODUL PESTE TISA (Bridge Over the River Tisza) delivers a vivid account of the problems caused by the EU's expansion to the east, the new borders it sets and the effects of the Schengen Treaty.

In THE GRANDMOTHERS OF THE REVOLUTION, the political upheavals of the past are examined on a more private level. Slovenian film-maker Petra Seliškar, whose husband is Cuban, presents the various perspectives taken by different family members vis à vis "their" revolutions. We are talking here about the Second World War, the former Yugoslavia, Tito, Cuba and the Slovenia of today. The word "revolution" covers a multitude of definitions anyway and the film works with striking archive material to juxtapose grand-scale history next to personal experiences and memories

III Short Films
To accompany the feature fiction films and the documentaries, the Dortmund | Cologne International Women's Film Festival will be presenting a series of shorts films from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo. The section ranges from the early works of now established directors such as Jasmila Zbanic; through to first offerings like FIRST TIME I EXHIBITED MY ART IN BH NATIONAL GALLERY by Sabrina Begovic, still a student. Also worth discovering are the humorous-ironic stories such as RUCAK by Ana Husman who tackles some of those how-to guides dealing with matters of etiquette and style when eating and drinking – and from whose film incidentally, the poster motif for this year's festival was inspired.

IV Media Art
Specially for the festival, the renowned Slovenian media performance artist Marina Gržinic; has compiled a programme of works by herself and colleagues. Under the title Do We Live in a World Without Borders?, she presents a series of artistic positions and experiments revolving round the themes of border, border experience and border-drawing. Using the means provided by performance, the women artists here take a hard look at the real borders between countries and peoples as well as at perceptions of border and one's own body.

V Panel Discussion
The Country Focus is not a stand-alone programme but one that offers cross connections to other sections at the festival. With the panel discussion Balkan Queer Pride, for example, we get a direct link to the section desired! film lust & queer as the panel gives us an overview of the latest news about the queer scene in the Balkan region. The starting point is the extreme aggression that any queer festival is faced with. On the panel are a number of (women) activists, feminists and film-makers who well be talking about their own experiences and strategies – including Masa Hilcisin, the director of the documentary film SARAJEWO QUEER FESTIVAL 2008 and member of the Organisation Q; Bulgarian journalist und blogger Yana Buhrer Tavanier, co-organiser of the Sofia Pride Parade; Dana Budisavljevic, film-maker and producer from Zagreb; and Marija Savic; from Belgrade Gay Pride. All in cooperation with the Lesbians in NRW Group.

On the jury:
Mirjana Karanovic
, one of the leading actors in the Balkan regions, will be sitting on the jury for the International Debut Fiction Feature Film Competition for Women 2010. Having made her name in Emir Kusturica's WHEN FATHER WAS AWAY ON BUSINESS she became the first Serbia actress to accept a role in a Croatian film: SVJEDOCIC (Witness). Now, following GRBAVICA (Esma's Secret), she can be seen in another film directed by Jasmila Zbanic, namely, NA PUTU (On the Path). For HERE AND THERE directed by Darko Lungolov, she received the Critics Award for Best Actress at the Belgrade Film Festival in January of this year.

Together with Betty Schiel and Sonja Hofmann of the Dortmund | Cologne International Women's Film Festival, Rada Šešic – the internationally renowned Croatian journalist, film-maker and scriptwriter – was responsible for curating the Country Focus on the Balkans section. Ms Šešic; now lives in the Netherlands where she teaches film and works for the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival and the Dutch STIFO Fund. She is also active on behalf of the Sarajevo Film Festival in Bosnia and the Kerala International Film Festival in India.

Programme cooperation and promotion
The Country Focus section comes with the kind support of the Cologne-Bonn Savings Bank Culture Foundation as well as in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the NRW Centre of Political Education.

Press contact
Stefanie Görtz, Ann Katrin Thöle
0231-5025480 /


20 October 2009

Spotlight on the Balkan Region at the Women's Film Festival in Cologne 2010

Works by women film directors from the Balkans and neighbouring countries will be the subject of the Country Focus section at the festival to be held in Cologne from 14 to 18 April 2010.

Stories from the post-war era
Seen within the post-war context, many films from South-East Europe deal with themes such as homeland and migration. However, the uncovering of the hidden biographies typical for the Balkans also plays a central role. The films selected for this section tell the stories of repressed identities, exile, displacement and adaptation. Chronicles which hardly ever figure in the official versions of history but which come to the fore in oral narratives. Our contemporary film-makers use their films to give people a voice that is seldom or never heard. These are stories which relate not just to recent military conflicts in the region but which also go back much further in the past.

Films from …
Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia

As more and more women film directors from the Balkan region take to the camera and enjoy a series of successes – Jasmila Žbanic, for example, picked up the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival 2006 for her Grbavica – it is important that neighbours in West Europe provide a forum for their films. Time, then, for the Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival to present a definitive overview and come into dialogue with the film-makers.

The programme is to be curated by the film critic, film maker and festival programmer Rada Šešic and, on behalf of the festival management team, Betty Schiel and Sonja Hofmann.

Other sections at the 2010 festival
For the sixth time now, the Cologne branch of the festival will be holding the International Debut Feature Film Competition. Eight films from all over the world will be competing for the award which is endowed with a €10,000 prize. In 2008, the winner was the French director Aurélia Georges and her L’homme qui marche.

The section Desired! – Film, Lust & Queer ranks as a major forum for the latest lesbian and transgender films. The Panorama section highlights films of the last two years made by women from all over the world and is open to all genres, though there is a certain emphasis on artistic documentary films, technically interesting full-length movies and music videos.

Film school
Plus, by means of a separate film programme for kids and young adults, the festival offers Cologne-based schools the opportunity to incorporate specific topics into lessons.

Professional development
The festival also sees itself as a platform for networking, experience and professional development. For this reason, taking place in tandem with the film shows, there will a wide and ambitious choice of workshops and master classes supervised for the Dortmund|Cologne Film Festival by Christine von Fragstein, former director of the Berlinale Talent Campus.

Final submission dates
Panorama and Desired!: 30 November 2009
Debut Feature Film Competition: 8 January 2010


26 April 2009

International Feature Film Award of €25,000 goes to German film director Maren Ade for her latest film Alle Anderen (Everyone Else)

Six days of film festival have now successfully come to a close and the organizers are pleased to report that the number of visitors is consolidating upwards. No fewer than 8,000 film aficinados found their way to the festival locations which, in Dortmund, included the domicil jazz club, the Schauburg Cinema, the CineStar Complex and the Harenberg City Center. In Cologne, the films taking part in the INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM COMPETITION FOR WOMEN FILM DIRECTORS were also screened at the FilmForum NRW and the OFF-Broadway Cinema.

The International Feature Film Competition, which comes with a prize of €25,000, was won this year by Maren Ade for her film ALLE ANDEREN [aka Everyone Else], a film about a couple on holiday in Sardinia and about unfulfilled wishes and power games. Birgit Minichmayr and Lars Eidinger shine in the main roles as Gitti and Chris. The leading characters' fear of responsibility and of their own feelings reflects their emotional lack of direction. An intimate love story that x-rays the depths of a personal relationship and, as a film, relies wholly on the subtle and moving skills of the actors. Like Ms Ade's debut film DER WALD VOR LAUTER BÄUMEN [aka The Forest for the Trees] before it, ALLE ANDEREN takes a simple outgoing situation and turns it into a multilayered story with poignant effect. German actress Franziska Petri, Swedish film director Maria von Heland and Italian festival administrator Paola Paoli who formed the international jury and who were highly impressed by the form and aesthetic spectrum of all the competition entries, explained their decision as follows …

A wonderfully produced film, perfectly acted and as entertaining as it is intelligent. That oldest of all stories – love – is told with immense honesty, courage and passion. By focussing on a seemingly normal couple and proceeding gently in a subtle narrative style, the film allows the viewers to ask questions about their own ability to love and about the values that society holds. We see our own world with new eyes.

Jostling for the award were feature films from Germany, Taiwan, China, France, USA, Czechia and Canada. This award, unique in Germany, has been made available to the Dortmund | Cologne International Women's Film Festival for the third time running by the generosity of the RWE Westfalen-Weser-Ems AG, a utilities company. At a festive awards ceremony held in the Schauburg Cinema, the company's CEO Thomas Birr presented the award to Ms Ade in person.

The awards for the NATIONAL COMPETITION FOR WOMEN DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY were also presented at the ceremony held on 26 April 2009. Endowed with prize money of €5,000 and aimed at women cinematographers working in the feature film sector, the award this year has been divided equally between two entrants: Susanne Kurz for her camerawork in the short feature 1,2,3 and Marlen Schlawin for her camerawork in Badetag [aka The Day He Went Swimming].

Making its own debut, the award for BEST CAMERAWORK IN A DOCUMENTARY FILM goes to Anne Misselwitz for her DER, DIE, DAS [aka The Amount of Small Things]. It comes with a purse of €2,500 kindly sponsored by DerWesten, the online portal of the WAZ Media Group. The award jury here – Bella Halben, Sophie Maintigneux and Ute Freund – were overwhelmed by the abundance, variety and quality of the documentary films submitted and were thus pleased to give a Special Mention to Cologne Academy of Media Arts graduate Julia Daschner for her documentary AUF DER WALZ [aka Learning on the Road]. Meanwhile, the DORTMUND AWARD FOR WOMEN DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY has been presented five times. It is designed to honour the camerawork of young German women directors of photography eligible to take part on the basis of their graduation piece or one of their first two pieces working as freelance. Handing over the awards were Jörg Stüdemann, Head of Culture & Leisure at the City of Dortmund, and Katharina Borchert, Editor-in-Chief of DerWesten.

Thematic film programme

The topic of freedom was spotlighted in around ninety movies and videos, old and new. Documentary films such as HOTEL SAHARA which is about African migrants and their dreams of Europe, and THE COLOUR OF OLIVES which is about a Palestinian family whose home is enclosed by the Israeli Wall, both preoccupied the viewers well after the actual screening. However, it was in a somewhat more relaxed frame of mind that viewers were able to leave SWEETGRASS a documentary about the last sheep-herding operations in Montana and HIMALAYA, A PATH TO THE SKY a documentary about Tibetan child monks.

The various silent movie shows with piano accompaniment live struck a big chord with the audiences. The early-20th century suffragettes who fought for women's rights so vociferously were the stars of one programme section featuring newsreel treasures of the 1910s, flittingly accompanied by the Essen-based Joachim Bärenz on grand piano.

New Audience Prize

And the winner, now the final votes from the audience have been counted, is …. HIMALAYA, A PATH TO THE SKY directed by Marianne Chaud, the first person to receive the new AUDIENCE PRIZE. A Buddhist monastery in the peaks of the Himalayas is home to child monks as well as adult. The eight-year-old Kenrap, for instance, was placed in the monastery by his parents — at his own request when he was still only five. Once a year, all the monks make a pilgrimage down to the villages. Instead of solemn pilgrims, though, we encounter cheerful little brats who display much wit and affection. Kindly donated by trailer-Ruhr, a cinema listings website, the €1,000 prize was presented Sunday evening to the film's editor Françoise Berger Garnault. Votes, by the way, could be cast for any film longer than fifty minutes showing at the festival and made between 2006 and 2009.

Professional training and networking

More than fifty film-makers and journalists from all over the world came to Dortmund to introduce films in person, to run a workshop or to make music. Once again, the Women's Film Festival has done full justice to its major role as a network hub for women active in the film industry. New contacts were made, old ones renewed and lots of professional links forged — ably helped by the workshops and master classes as well as the actual films. Indeed, a total of sixty young women film-makers attended the workshops given over to PR, pitching, finance, image composition, script-writing and film direction, working assiduously with seasoned (women) professionals. "It was wonderful to experience at first hand so many aspects about their creative work, their approach and their aspirations", said one workshop participant. Similarly, Christine von Fragstein – who was in charge of the professional development programme at the 2009 festival – was also very satisfied with the results: "The participants went away enthused and we gathered all kinds of ideas for topics at future events".

Schools Programme & Girls' Focus

Last but not least, running at the CineStar until 29 April, is the now traditional schools programme as organised by the Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival. By that date, more than 1,100 school students accompanied by their teachers will have viewed and discussed films aimed at their general age group. This year, two films from the Netherlands and Denmark in particular seem to have caught the younger viewers' imagination: DUNYA & DESIE and FIGHTGIRL AYSE respectively. In long discussions about the films' Moroccan and Turkish protagonists, the young people were able to describe their reactions to the films and talk about their own ethnic background.

At Girls' Focus, a three-day film workshop for young women, the topic this time round was script development. Screenwriter and director Sabine Bernardi was on hand to work with young women from both Germany and Palestine.

Our next festival is scheduled to take place in Cologne from 14 – 18 April 2010.

Press liaison
+49 231 502 5480
Stefanie Görtz (+ 49 170 203 7198) / Marine Dubrulle (+49 0179 527 5708)

23 March 2009

International Feature Film Competition for Women Directors 2009

– sponsored by RWE Westfalen-Weser-Ems AG

This year, the International Feature Film Competition for Women Directors is being held for the third time in Dortmund. Endowed with 25,000 EUR and unique in Germany, the competition acts as a showcase for the work of women film directors who, after an acclaimed debut, have succeeded in continuing to make films that are thematically and technically impressive. With 69 feature films from almost 40 different countries, the number of entries has risen once again. A sure sign of the growing popularity and reputation of the competition!

The award for the best film goes to the director direct and will be presented personally at the Awards Ceremony to be held o in Dortmund n 26 April 2009. Another first worth noting is the fact that the competition films are also being screened in Cologne at the Filmforum NRW and at the Off Broadway Cinema.

The jury
The job of deciding who should receive the 25,000 EUR award is given to an international three-woman jury: German actress Franziska Petri; Florence film festival director Paola Paoli; and the Swedish author and director Maria von Heland.

The shortlist

ALLE ANDEREN (aka Everyone Else)
Germany 2009, 119 min., 35mm, English subtitles, director: Maren Ade
with: Birgit Minichmayr, Lars Eidinger, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Nicole Marischka etc.

This is the story of Gitti and Chris, an odd couple who are battling their way through a holiday of secluded togetherness. We get to know two people as they really are when they are alone: secret rituals, silliness, unfulfilled wishes and power games. Triggered by a seemingly unimportant event – an encounter with another couple – their relationship begins to deteriorate. Alle Anderen, the winner of two awards at the Berlin Film Festival and directed by Maren Ade, narrates in a highly subtle way the story of a couple's relationship on holiday in Sardinia on the one hand. On the other, it calmly introduces broader social topics such as personal responsibility and the disorientation of a generation as a whole. A finely humorous but cruelly precise study of the contradictory desires of a couple searching for their own identity. An intimate love story that trawls the depths of an individual relationship and reflects the generic emotions. "I wanted to make a film about the convoluted yet unique entity that is represented by two people in a relationship. The main character of the film is not so much an individual as a couple", says Ms Ade.

Taiwan 2007, 119 Min, 35mm, English subtitles, director: Singing Chen
with: Tarcy Su, Jack Kao, Chang Han etc.

Short Cuts in Taiwan: An affluent married couple from Taipei who have become increasingly estranged and incommunicado since the birth of their child. A rural fruit trader and his wife trying to beat his alcohol problem. A young woman who lets off steam via kickboxing.
Director Singing Chen tracks the lives of these beleaguered characters for a few days, creating a framework in which people may find themselves again.

China 2008, 100 min., 35mm, English subtitles, director: Yin Lichuan
with: Zhang Yi, Lu Yulai, Yan Bingyan etc.

Daping hates Haili who arrives out of nowhere into her apartment, her life and her promising relationship with Chen Jin. Although Daping tries to be a nice, Haili is on her back all the time. Then one day, Chen Jin disappears, leaving Daping pregnant and with little notion of how to survive. But in her life Haili has also experienced many a hardship and might be just the right person to help out in this crisis. Despite Haili's tendency to mock, there's a good chance that the two women might bond ...

In Knitting, director Yin Lichuan tells the story with wit and charm of a refreshingly absurd ménage a trois. The act of knitting seems to be the one constant factor in the daily fight for survival led by three drifters in the big city.

France 2008, 119 min., 35mm, French with translation,
director: Claire Simon,
with: Nathalie Baye, Béatrice Dalle, Isabelle Carré, Nicole Garcia etc.

Djamila wants to start taking the pill because things with her boyfriend are getting serious, Zoe's mother gives her condoms but treats her like a prostitute, Nedjma hides her pills outdoors because her mother searches her bag, Helen thinks she's too fertile, Clemence is afraid; Adeline and Margot want to keep it, Maria Angela would like to find out who got her pregnant and Ana Marie has chosen love and liberty — while Anne, Denise, Marta, Yasmine and Milena are the counsellors who listen to all the women and who wonder how sexual freedom will ever be possible.

Claire Simon has gathered the crème de la crème of French cinema's leading ladies – Nathalie Baye, Isabelle Carré, Béatrice Dalle, Nicole Garcia and Rachida Brakni – as the counsellors at a family planning clinic in Paris faced with all kinds of fates based on one common denominator: the dream of self-determined female sexuality.

Canada 2007, 90 min., 35mm, English subtitles, director: Léa Pool
with: Marianne Fortier, Céline Bonnier, Laurent Lucas, Gabriel Arcand etc.

It's the summer of 1966, holiday time. All too aware of the dreams, disappointments and lies of those around her, Élise watches her family turned upside down by the hasty departure of their mother. Her brother Coco retreats into designing a racing car with a lawn-mower engine and little Benoît seeks refuge in his private world and/or the furnace room while her father is simply overwhelmed. Élise therefore decides to take charge of her dysfunctional come-adrift family. Finding solace in nature and the silent consolation of Monsieur Mouche, she gets ready to experience a summer very different from others. We're talking here the prudish early 1960s, times that weren't perhaps so prudish after all.

Czech Republic 2008, 80 min., 35mm, English subtitles
director: Michaela Pavlátová, with: Martha Issová, Jiri Mádl etc.

Michaela Pavlátová's second feature film is a story about Ofka, a young girl from Prague caught between childhood and adulthood. When she splits up with her boyfriend and when her best girlfriend betrays her, she falls into a strange state of lethargy. Every night, she works behind the counter at a corner shop serving the night-owls and other lost souls. Best Actor Awards for Martha Issová and Jiri Mádl in Karlovy Vary 2008.

France 2008, 103 min., 35mm, French with German on earphones, German première
director: Sylvie Verheyde, with: Léora Barbara, Karole Rocher, Benjamin Biolay, Guillaume Depardieu etc.

It's the wild 1970s of her own childhood that Sylvie Verheyde evokes in Stella. The eponymous eleven-year-old protagonist is growing up in her parent's bar in a Parisian working class district. Since her parents are occupied with themselves, not too much value is placed on educational achievement — and Stella is instead expected to tap the beer. But then she gets a place at a prestigious school in Paris and becomes friends with the daughter of Argentinian-Jewish intellectuals. Stella's life is about to change.

USA 2008, 80 min., 35mm, French language
director: Kelly Reichardt
with: Michelle Williams, Will Patton, John Robinson etc.

The young and jobless Wendy (Michelle Williams) is on the road in her beat-up old car looking for work up in the Frozen North. Her only companion is Lucy, her dog. They live on the cheap and sleep in the car. Out in the middle of nowhere, a small town in Oregon, the car breaks down and Wendy doesn't have enough money to get it repaired. She's now homeless. And after she's caught shoplifting and has to spend a few hours in prison, the dog she cares about so much goes missing.
This latest work by American director Kelly Reichardt, Wendy and Lucy is a cameo study of the American Dream called capitalism. Ms Reichardt's narrative style is as laconic as it is absurd, making you want to laugh and cry at the same time. Woe betide anyone who has too few dollars and a few too many problems. Born in the U.S.A.

Other programme highlights


As ever, under the motto of An Independent-minded Young Actresses, the festival will be zooming in on the impressive work of one German actress.
This time round, the Berlin-based Franziska Petri - who's also on the jury of the International Feature Film Competition – has chosen Schattenwelt (Long Shadows), the Baader/Meinhof drama directed by Connie Walther. She will be introducing the film in Dortmund and discussing it with the audience. Ms Petri, who took leading roles in various TV productions while still studying drama at the Ernst Busch College of Performing Arts in Berlin, will be known to the general public for many cinema films — e.g. Vergiss Amerika (Forget America) by Vanessa Jopp, Leo & Claire by Joseph Vilsmaier and Das Herz ist ein dunkler Wald (The Heart Is a Dark Forest) by Nicolette Krebitz.

In Schattenwelt, which also stars Ulrich Noethen, Uwe Kockisch and Eva Mattes, Franziska Petri plays Valéry, a young mother searching for the murderer of her father killed during a rescue operation led by the then Baader/Meinhof terrorist Widmer who has recently been given a pardon and who, irony of ironies, has just moved into neighbouring flat into Valerie's tenement block.

BACK ON THE SILVER SCREEN AGAIN - Silent movies accompanied by live music

The historic silent movies at the 2009 festival tell of suffragettes, comediennes and tragic heroines: "You have to be alert all the time and watch out that they don't push you to one side if you're going to get your reforms through", said Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the first feminists. At the start of the 20th century, the suffragettes fought a vociferous campaign for their rights. And since it was about this time that the first films were being made, the struggle made by these valiant ladies was wonderfully documented. We will be watching rare and treasured footage from the British Film Archive in combination with the anarchically joyous activities of those early comediennes: the Tilly Girls.

Also time for a re-encounter: two full-length movies: Hindle Wakes (GB 1927) and Der Geiger von Florenz (The Violinist of Florence: D 1926), a cross-dressing comedy tailor-made for the great Elisabeth Bergner.

With live musical accompaniment from pianists Maud Nelissen (NL), Ruth Bieri (CH) and Joachim Bärenz (D)


Filmmaker – A dream job?! Another event that has firmly established itself at the Dortmund-Cologne Film Festival is the Girls Focus Workshop. Up to 16 girls (aged 16+) gather at the festival weekend to swap ideas, get information, watch films together and have a chat with the film experts on hand.

This year, the emphasis will be on script development. Sabine Bernardi, a successful author and writer, will be floating ideas about how to set about writing screenplays. Also scheduled to come are two young film-makers from Palestine who will be presenting their first (already successful) short films exclusively at this workshop.

DORTMUND AND CHINA – A Cultural Exchange on Film

Two women, two countries. While Fu Qiong uses her camera to discover Dortmund, Conny Beissler records a day in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong (Canton) Province.
The Chinese director made her way here in 2008 to film Dortmund. From the present-day artist to the former miner and from Dortmund Borussia FC to the Hoesch Museum Fu Qiong succeeds with her Faces: Dortmund documentary in capturing the history and transformation of a place via its inhabitants. A good-humoured portrait of a town in the heart of the Ruhr seen from the perspective of a Chinese woman.

In return, film-maker Conny Beissler accompanies three individuals going about their everyday routine in her documentary: Morgen in Guangzhou (Morning in Guangzhou). In doing so, she succeeds in tracking the social transformation of China as exemplified by the people of the Cantonese capital.

The two films came about in 2008 within the framework of the Germany and China – Moving Ahead Together programme, a series of events organised by the Federal Republic of Germany in China. The two directors can thus celebrate the German première of their films in Dortmund. As such, the festival at its Dortmund branch refers back to the wider-ranging Focus on China programme featuring the work of Chinese women film-makers at the 2008 edition of the festival in Cologne.

Dates for you diary
Opening Press Conference
21. April 2009, 14.00h, Rathaus Dortmund

Festival Opening
21 April 2009, 19.30h, CineStar Dortmund

Awards Ceremony
26. April 2009, 19.00h, Schauburg

domicil, Schauburg, CineStar, Harenberg City-Center

Festival Office

Press Contact
Stefanie Görtz, Marine Dubrulle
++49(0)231 5025480, presse[at]


2 February 2009

Programme Info February 2009

Freedom is the central theme at the Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival taking place this year in Dortmund. With its trademark range of films, talks and workshops, the festival will be highlighting current work by selected women film directors as well as some classic film gems that deal with the subject of freedom. Over six whole days, audiences will be treated to 100 films from different genres and of various lengths.

Homeland security, free love, the liberty to travel at will – how much freedom is possible in a world in which rights and dreams compete with one another? Is it possible to be poor and free at the same time or does only a certain level of affluence coupled with the right kind of passport guarantee freedom in a globalised world? Or have we arrived at a situation where the more mobile you are the freer you are? These are the kind of questions to which women directors from all parts of the world will be giving their thoughts, opinions and pictures.

Inner freedom
The festival's Inner Freedom section takes a close look at people and their ideals of freedom. In her film Himalaya, la Chemin du Ciel (Himalaya, Path to the Sky), for example, French documentary-maker Marianne Chaud charts the arduous trek that child monks make to their families. But instead of solemn pilgrims, we encounter cheerful brats playing football. A new and refreshing take on Buddhism.

Under control
With all their rules and conventions, today's institutions limit and mould the lives of just about everyone in all manner of ways. The films to be shown in the Unter Kontrolle section of the programme will therefore lead the viewers to prisons – but to the haunts of the super-rich and powerful as well. In the French documentary film A Coté (Next Door), director Stéphane Mercurio portrays protagonists in a guesthouse for people visiting family members in the adjacent Rennes prison. For almost a year, she filmed wives, mothers and fathers in this halfway house between outside and inside and thus confronts us with the violence and randomness of the prison system.

The setting in Zuoz – behind the walls of a Swiss elite private school - couldn't be more different. It is a world in which thinking and feelings are replaced by behaviour norms, an establishment where those whose faces don't fit in are marginalised at once. A situation similar to that of the three women in Standesgemäß (Noble Commitments), a documentary by Julia von Heinz. If an aristocratic lady marries beneath her status – a hairdresser perhaps – then she loses not only her title but also her good name and upper-class circle of friends. But if an aristocratic gentleman were to marry down, things would be entirely different: the hairdresser is given a title and everything's, well, just dandy.

Initiated by the festival in 2005, the discussion as to the borders of national states and the conditions of people living on the edge is to be continued in this particular programme section. Frozen River, Courtney Hunt's internationally acclaimed prize-winning movie debut, is the story of two single mothers in the USA, a Caucasian and a Mohawk, who earn a bit of money on the side at the Canadian border smuggling illegal migrants.

Films of the 1960s
Going back in film history always makes for a fascinating look at cross-connections in terms of content, formal and aesthetics. It gives an idea of what people fought for and what people fought against in the specific epoch — and which definition of freedom was allowed to frame the discourse. The European cinema of the 1960s, for instance, has come to symbolise the rebellion of young film auteurs against rigid narrative conventions and the ideological doctrines of the post-war period. Women began increasingly to make use of the right to tell their stories. Oblivious to national borders, a panorama of women's hopes and dreams emerged. So we think the time has come to rediscover them in all their radicalism.

Feminist Classics
In Flickorna (The Girls), a tour with Lysistrata triggers off for three actresses a series of critical reflections about their private lives and their roles as women in Swedish society. Occasion too to poke fun at male dominance and, if only in passing, at Big Males such as Hitler, Stalin, Eisenhower, Adenauer and Mao Tse-tung. Regarded in its day as something of a flop, this movie as directed by Mai Zetterling now ranks as one of the first and most committed works in the annals of feminist film.

Experimental films
The freedom of women film-makers to go their own way, and that includes artistic and technical freedom, can now no longer be taken for granted in this age of monoformat TV and mainstream cinema. Which is why a main aim of the Dortmund Festival is to present alternatives and get debate going. A retrospective of the films made by the leading performance film and experimental film-makers of the 1960s and 1970s reveals just how courageous and hard-hitting the artists set about their work: Yoko Ono who in Freedom attempts to remove her bra from her body with no success; Valie Export and her famous Tap and Touch Cinema; Marina Abramovic's Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful; and Carolee Schneeman's celebration of flesh as erotic material in Meat Joy. All these films take the liberty of pushing the borders of film imagery and/or its presentation to the limits.

Film festival… and more
With the action entitled A Wall Is a Screen, the film show moves out of the cinema. As a unique combination of city sight-seeing tour and film night, viewers are invited to stroll through downtown Dortmund and stop at some of the lighter coloured walls — which will then be used to screen short films. Once a film has come to an end, the group moves on to the next white wall.

Jazz noir
The Dutch Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble are renowned for blurring the borders between image and music. Employing an unusual mix of contemporary sounds, melancholy tinted and sometimes sombre jazz, the seven musicians (men and women) set new music to sequences from well-known silent movies. This music for images on the screen or for images that only exist in the mind is to be presented at Dortmund's legendary domicil jazz club.

This year, the festival management has extended widely the practical services for film-makers – e.g. wholeday workshops in the fields of film finance, technology updates and film PR as well as master classes on film directing, film music, image composition and acting skills. Plus a small premiere of its own: workshop leader for the first time in Dortmund is Christine von Fragstein, former director of the Berlinale Talent Campus and now director of the Zurich Master Class.

Young Festival
Freedom is also under the spotlight during the Schools Film Week from 23–29 April, held at the CineStar and aimed mainly at Dortmund's school students and young adults. Films about freedom, making your own decisions, the freedom to speak up, the art of freeing oneself from preconceptions and anxieties and, not least, about the freedom to simply enjoy the summer holidays. The programme includes the Danish production Fight Girl Ayse, the story of a girl who passionately and professionally trains for Kung Fu and so comes into conflict with the rules of her Turkish culture. Johanna sucht das Glück (Johanna Seeking Happiness) is a new work from Grimme Award-winning Marion Kainz who for three years accompanied the then 13-year-old Johanna from Berlin, portraying her desire for security and freedom in a documentary about a young girl about to set out on her own life. These films and the follow-up media studies talks – partly with the actual director or actors – are aimed at boosting the film awareness of the teenage audiences and sensitising them to the idea of cinema as a place of cultural interest.

International Conference
Crossing the Border – transcultural perspectives and women's film

To get the festival off to a good start, the Film Studies Department at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz has organised a two-day symposium. In addition to the aesthetics of film and the oeuvre of women film directors who live and work in a transcultural context, the following questions will be looked at: plot structure, figure constellation, narrative and scene setting strategies, taboo transgression, the direct and indirect encounters with cultural identities and experience with migration.
(Contact: Dr Susanne Marschall,

Second Programme Press Conference
12.30h / 23 March 2009
RWE Westfalen-Weser-Ems AG, Dortmund

Opening Press Conference
14.00h / 21 April
Dortmund City Hall

Festival Opening
Scheduled for 19.00h / 21 April 2009
CineStar Dortmund

Award Ceremony
Scheduled for 18.00h / 26 April 2009
Schauburg Cinema

domicil, Schauburg, CineStar

Festival Office

Press Liaison
Stefanie Görtz, Marine Dubrulle



27 April 2008

Aurélia Georges Wins €10,000 Prize for Best International Debut Film at Women's Film Festival in Cologne

The Cologne edition of the Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival came to an end this weekend, leaving a highly satisfied festival management team

For all of five days, the team led by Festival Director Silke Räbiger had presented over 90 films, talks, seminars and workshops at six different venues. Despite beautiful early summer weather, the enthusiastic audiences ensured sell-out performances. Altogether, more than 8,000 viewers came to Cologne especially for the festival.

Prize Winners 2008

No easy job for the jury. The eight entries in this year's Best International Debut Feature Film Competition for women film directors were all completely different in style and content, which ranged from war parable through road movie to literary film. And the winner was … L´Homme qui marche by French director Aurélia Georges who was in Cologne personally to pick up €10,000 prize at the evening awards ceremony held in the Film Forum.

According to jury members Dr Barbara Buhl (Cologne), Prof. Dai Jinhua (Peking) and Nina Menkes (Los Angeles) …:

"L´Homme qui marche is an unconventional film portrait of an unknown author seen from a contemporary viewpoint. Screenplay, main actor, camerawork and editing all come together in a bonafide and sparing way to create a convincing, authentic, true-to-detail piece of work about the life of an unsuccessful artist who gradually loses contact with society".

The jury also gave special praise to the Dutch social comedy Maybe Sweden by Margien Rogaar, saying …

"Thanks to successful mix of outstanding direction, interplay between the actors, a taut dramatic structure and a sharp sense of humour, the outcome is a strong and politically relevant film".

The winner of the Audience Prize, which comes with €1,000 donated by Choices, the listings magazine, was Cowboy Angels by Kim Massée (F)

The Focus on China section of the programme offered a good overview of the films currently being made by Chinese women film directors and the chance to talk to the film-makers in person. Unique opportunities which, in this form, will probably not be possible in Germany for some time to come. Either way, the variety of the works on view left an impression of an incredibly vital, creative and self-aware film scene.

Unlike previous years, all the programme sections were given equal footing — with Queer Looks, as ever, proving to be the audience magnet. With her comedy Tick Tock Lullaby , for example, Lisa Gornik (UK) simply enchanted the Film Forum audience on the Saturday evening.

The ideal of allowing more space and time for the need to talk about film and content also went down very well. For instance, the Panorama film & discussion event with Medica Mondiale revolving round Meira Asher's documentary film Woman See Lot of Things about former girl soldiers in Sierra Leone made a deep and moving impression on the audience.

Meanwhile, as if in no time at all, our brand-new Festival Blog – a collaborative venture by students at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences and the Technical University of Dortmund – became a lively online platform for all the latest news about the festival. It will continue after the festival has finished at:

The next edition of the Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival is to take place in Dortmund in April 2009.

For more (downloadable) information and photos relating to our annual festival, please visit our website at

Internationales Frauenfilmfestival Dortmund|Köln
Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival

Press: Stefanie Görtz / Ursula Teich
c/o Kulturbüro Dortmund
Küpferstr. 3
D-44122 Dortmund
Fon: 0231-5025480
Fax: 0231-5025734


25 March 2008

Next Generation Women Film Directors Debut
at Dortmund|Cologne International Film Festival

Eight exceptional first works are to be screened at this year's International Best Debut Feature Film Competition, which comes endowed with a €10,000 prize. The international jury consists of US film-maker and director of photography Nina Menkes, Chinese film director Li Yu and Cologne-based Barbara Buhl, deputy head of the Film & Series Department at the WDR, a public-service German TV and radio company. The Audience Prize of €1,000 sponsored by Choices, a listings magazine, will also be awarded in this section.

Of the over 70 entries seen and evaluated, five feature films from Europe and three from overseas were short-listed. The women film directors all permit a look into other worlds: a stranger in a country far way from home; a stranger in one's own body; and the stranger who suddenly appears in a world thought familiar. These encounters with the "other" and the immediate consequences are one recurrent theme in the films entered for the competition.

From Malaysia, Love Conquers All by independent film-maker Tan Chui Mui has already won several international awards. The film tells, in unpretentious style, the story of Ah Peng, a young woman who moves from her small home-town to the big city of Kuala Lumpur and falls for John, a dubious character if ever there was one.

Two entries from Latin America are about young protagonists living on the edge of society and having to create their own reality. XXY by Lucía Puenzo from Argentina describes the life of the intersexual Alex whose genetic make-up is neither wholly male nor wholly female. Alex lives with her parents on a remote island and a first holiday romance for the fifteen-year-old triggers great uncertainty both for her and her parents.

Mutum, the first feature film by Sandra Kogut, is set in the sertão, the backlands of Brazil, and narrates in documentary fashion the everyday life of ten-year-old Thiago. Together with his bother Filipe, he is confronted by the world of adults, a world which exists of deceit, violence and illusionary calm.

While Thiago is afraid of his father, eleven-year-old Pablo in the French road movie Cowboy Angels is longing for his. He persuades Louis, a hapless poker player, to travel with him to Spain and look for his father. The Franco-American director Kim Massee thus sends her odd couple on a trip into the unknown.

In the French production entitled L’Homme qui marche, Aurélia Georges depicts the ongoing decline of poet Viktor Atemian in the Paris of the 1970s. With César Sarachu, she has found a truly brilliant character actor for the lead role. His emotional and deeply affecting portrayal of the worn-out poet gives the film a strong and reflective note.

It is perhaps only in an encounter with the "other" that you end up perceiving yourself. So what is typically European? In Maybe Sweden that is the question posed for a group of well-heeled people from the Netherlands who are on holiday in Spain. They are the kind of people who like to discuss Houllebecq at the evening meal. But when, one night, they find a refugee from Ghana in their garden, their frankness is put to the test.

A stranger coming into a world which had seemed all too familiar is also the theme in Marta, the graduation piece by Czech director Marta Novaková. War is raging — some where, some time. Marek, a young man, sustains himself and his father by setting traps for wild animals. But, one day, he finds Marta, a young woman and enemy soldier, in a snare and takes her home. A parable of universal import about loyalty, love, and hate in time of war.

Sarah Gavron's film of the best-selling novel Brick Lane – it is receiving its German premiere at the festival – relates the story of seventeen-year-old Nazneen who moves from homely Bangladesh to faraway London for an arranged marriage. Without at first questioning her destiny in any way, she devotes her life to her husband and daughters … until, one day, the impulsive Karim knocks on the door. Against a background of mounting racial tension in multicultural London, the director unfolds a wonderful and dangerous love story, beautifully shot and well acted.

Further information about the cooperative ventures and special events will be provided in the form of a further press statement and on our website: from where you can also download this press release and press photos.

If you have any other queries about the festival or accreditation, please contact our press officer: Ursula Teich.

Festival Grand Opening
23 April 2008 at 19.30h in the Odeon Kino

Awards Ceremony
27 April 2008 at 19.30h in the Filmforum NRW / Museum Ludwig
Preluded by a CD-release concert given by the Angelika Niescier Acoustic Quartet: "Chamber Jazz"

Venues in Cologne
Filmclub 813, Filmforum NRW / Museum Ludwig, Filmpalette, Metropolis and the Odeon Kino

Infotheque and accreditation:
Filmforum NRW / Museum Ludwig

Press Office:
Komed, Kommunikations- und Medienzentrum
Im Mediapark 7
Christophstrasse/ Mediapark

Dortmund│Cologne International Women's Film Festival
Festivalbüro 2008
c/o Kulturbüro Dortmund
Küpferstr. 3
D-44122 Dortmund
T +49 (0)231 525 480

Press Office Ursula Teich
Im Dau 6
D-50678 Köln
T: +49 (0)221 589 0708
M: +49 (0)173 520 4894

12 March 2008

A powerful, varied and unusual programme at this year's
Dortmund│Cologne International Women's Film Festival

This year, from 23 – 27 April 2008, a total of 95 movies including new international discoveries, feature film debuts and the latest lesbian and transgender films will be providing a unique overview of the latest films being made by women from 30 different countries. The PANORAMA and QUEER LOOKS sections are the core of the 2008 festival.

PANORAMA – the forum for international new discoveries

In 2008, PANORAMA will be presenting no fewer than 44 topical works from 18 countries. Films from all genres and of all lengths. Again, the documentary format is also well represented. Here the women film-makers have put children and young adults at the centre of their attention, locating their protagonists within social structures that are frequently all too rigid and ingrained. A prison for juvenile delinquents in the Russian Urals, with all the rituals of re-education but no great chance of success, in ALLEIN IN VIER WÄNDEN ("Alone In Four Walls") by Alexandra Westmeier. Her film has already been screened at the Sundance Festival. A psychiatric clinic in Rumania with its insurmountable courtyard walls in Adina Pintilie's prize-winning documentary film DON'T GET ME WRONG (Golden Dove 2007, DOK Leipzig). Or the ongoing cultivation of feudal structures in modern-day India in LAKSHMI & ME by Nishtha Jain. Meanwhile, in her first documentary film ELLE S’APPELLE SABINE, the French actress Sandrine Bonnaire shows a moving but also positive portrait of her autistic sister Sabine.

As if purpose-made for a women's film festival, VOGLIAMO ANCHE LE ROSE ("We Want Roses Too") is receiving its German premiere in Cologne. With its young and unconventional central characters, Alina Marazzi's documentary take on the emancipation process in the Italy of the 1960s and 1970s is as fresh and rebellious as its cast.

The feature films in the PANORAMA section are also humorous and quirky. Based on real events, TRÈS BIEN, MERCI by Emmanuelle Cuau is a tragicomedy bordering on the absurd. After being involved in a trivial incident, a typical Mr & Mrs Average get caught up in the claws of the French justice system … from which there appears to be no escape. Sandrine Kiberlain and Gilbert Melki are simply brilliant whether acting grotesque or tranquil moments.

To kick off the long film night on Saturday with a raft of entertaining shorts, the festival is pleased to present a work from the Argentinian cinema, the like of which you will never have seen before: UPA! UNA PELICULA ARGENTINA. The film is a wonderful dogme satire on the perils of film-making, lack of funds, unreliable assistants and a coked-up over-the-top film director.

Where more classic styles might come up against their limits, experimental approaches help to make stories narratable and ideas articulatable. In her new documentary film, for example, the Japanese director Naomi Kawase TARACHIME – BIRTH/MOTHER does not pursue a linear narrative structure. The distance in time between the birth of her own daughter and the death of her grandmother (who brought her up) is interwoven with poetic intimate and, at times, even harsh moments of memory.

In re-enacted scenes, three women process the nightmare they experienced as soldiers in Sierra Leone. WOMAN SEE LOT OF THINGS is a striking portrait by Dutch director Meira Asher of occurrences that words cannot begin to describe. She gives the women space to express their memories through movement. How about crawling on your stomach up to the victim? What does it feel like to cut a woman's unborn baby out of her stomach? The former girl soldiers themselves relate their stories — neither downplaying nor dramatising the events. After the screening, there will be an opportunity to discuss the topic with the director and with Gabriela Mischkowski, an expert on gender justice from medica mondiale.

The subsection of Experiments in the PANORAMA section as a whole is also given over to experimental documentaries as it presents the latest work by renowned avant-garde artists. In PART TIME HEROES by Mara Mattuschka and Chris Haring, for example, the four protagonists use dance, sprechgesang and antique communication devices to stage their egos. Alternatively, LIGHT•WORK•MOOD•DISORDER by Jennifer Reeves stands more in the tradition of classic experimental film. The New York-based film-artist, whose works have frequently been seen at the festival, collaborates here with musician Anthony Burr: they mix footage material from the fields of science, industry and medicine with electronic music, bass clarinet and organ. For its part, PHANTOM LOVE expresses that feeling of being trapped in your own soul and it is with this work, an experimental full-length film, that Nina Menkes – the US underground star and member of the jury at this year's International Debut Feature Film Competition – makes a comeback after some time away from the limelight. As both director and camerawoman, Ms Menkes depicts the life of her protagonist in precise black-and-white pictures — surreal and full of symbolic meaning.

International lesbian- and transgender films

The Queer Looks section now rates as a tradition in its own right at the Cologne branch of the festival. This time round, it highlights 22 films out of ten different countries, offering a thematic spectrum that couldn't be more diverse. From Jamie Babbit, the director of BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER, ITTY BITTY TITTY COMMITTEE is a homage to the Riot Grrl movement, a truly refreshing story about an apolitical small-breasted woman who sets out to learn all about radical feminism and find love in the process. Or, as critic Ruby Rich puts it so neatly: "For all of those who despair of the world and of the cinema, this bunch of 'revolting lesbians' have got a megadosis of hope in store". TICK TOCK LULLABY by Lisa Gornick is a comedy about the impossibility of a lesbian getting pregnant by coincidence, the pros and cons of parenthood and the power of the imagination. Jamie Babbitt and Lisa Gornick will be in Cologne to present their work in person.

Three documentary- and two short-film blocks round off the Queer Looks section. The Canadian-Chinese production of SHE’S A BOY I KNEW breaks with the notion that transident people start as a child to rebel against the gender that has been imposed on them. Instead, it shows the path taken by one person who only after years as a boy and man comes to terms with his womanhood.

SEEDS OF SUMMER documents the drills that young women in the Israeli Army are put through. Former combat soldier Hen Lasker, now armed with a camera, decides to retrace the steps of her past only to find herself getting involved again.

With LOVE AND WORDS, Sylvie Ballyot attempts to depict the undepictable. Her pictures of a Yemenite woman were confiscated by the authorities and her subject threatened with death. Even so, Ms Ballyot decides to continue with the project.

Art as bioterror
– exclusive preview of Lynn Hershman-'s STRANGE CULTURE at ART Cologne

In cooperation with the Stranger Than Fiction Festival and ART Cologne, there will be a screening of STRANGE CULTURE by Lynn Hershman-Leeson in the Filmforum NRW / Museum Ludwig on 19 April at 21.00h. With this preview, the team at Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival is hoping to whet the film-going appetite before the actual festival begins. Ms Hershman-Leeson's documentary is a series of interviews that detail how a seemingly banal misunderstanding can turn into a judicial nightmare.

NEW — Festival Blog and Festival News

Infos, backstage stories, opinions about the festival. And that on a 24/7 basis! This year, in addition to the official website at , there will be two other festival-centred publications: The Festival News and The Festival Blog.

The Festival News is a student project that has run successfully at the Dortmund branch of the festival for several years. As its name suggests, it is a (daily) newspaper that provides visitors to the festival with interviews, previews and reviews as well as background stories. This is its first issue at the Cologne location.

The Festival Blog is entirely new, the result of a cooperative venture with the Cologne University of Applied Sciences and Prof. Petra Werner from the Department of Online Journalism. Here you will find comments and impressions put together by students from the Cologne University and the Technical University of Dortmund. It is to be launched at the beginning of April at

Further information about the short list of films and the members of the jury for the International Debut Feature Film Competition, about the School Films Programme and about various cooperative ventures and special events will be provided in the form of press statements or via our website: from where you can also download this press release and press photos.

If you have any other queries about the festival or accreditation, please contact our press officer: Ursula Teich.

Festival Grand Opening
23 April 2008 at 19.30h in the Odeon Kino

Awards Ceremony
27 April 2008 at 19.30h in the Filmforum NRW / Museum Ludwig
Preluded by a CD-release concert given by the Angelika Niescier Acoustic Quartet: "Chamber Jazz"

Venues in Cologne
Film club 813, Filmforum NRW / Museum Ludwig, Filmpalette, Metropolis
and the Odeon Kino

Infotheque and accreditation:
Filmforum NRW / Museum Ludwig

Press Office:
Komed, Kommunikations- und Medienzentrum,
Im Mediapark 7
Christophstrasse/ Mediapark

Dortmund│Cologne International Women's Film Festival
Festivalbüro 2008
c/o Kulturbüro Dortmund
Küpferstr. 3
D-44122 Dortmund
T +49 (0)231 525 480

Press Office Ursula Teich
Im Dau 6
D-50678 Köln
T: +49 (0)221 589 0708
M: +49 (0)173 520 4894


15 January 2008

Spotlight on Chinese Film at the
Dortmund|Cologne Women's Film Festival 2008

At the forthcoming edition of the Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival in Cologne, the Festival will be devoting its Country Focus section to the work of women film-makers in the rising superpower of China. Li Yu, the writer and director of Lost in Beijing, is a member of the jury for the International Best Debut Feature Film Competition. She will also be present at the Festival from 23 – 27 April 2008.

Out of Beijing
"Worlds colliding with one another – nearly all of the films are impossible to imagine without cityscapes, cranes and building activity. The rapid pace of transformation and the constant new beginnings are frequently highlighted in these highly expressive films. Apart from showing the hypermodern fast-paced China in the midst of an economic boom, the films – in a quiet and committed way – often tell the story of ordinary people", writes Katharina Schneider-Roos, an Austrian film-maker who now lives in Beijing and one of the curators behind the China Country Focus which features a unique selection of independent film productions.

The Chinese film industry has been going through interesting times. On the one hand, as the censors have become relatively more tolerant, it is opening up and taking a more nuanced view at things. On the other hand, not all of the films made in China can be seen in China. Many of the women directors whose films have enjoyed world-wide success have suffered the indignity of not being allowed to show their works in their home country.

Lost in Beijing
Which is what has happened to Li Yu, one of the stars of the Beijing film scene. Following festival fame in Europe, her most recent film – the internationally acclaimed Lost in Beijing – was eventually screened in Chinese cinemas, albeit in a censored version. However, it has now been banned again — because, allegedly, "pornographic" sequences were excerpted from the film and used for advertising. Moreover, Laurel Film, the production company behind Ms Yu, was prohibited overnight from taking on any new projects for two years.

Li Yu began her career as a screenwriter and director at CCTV, the Chinese broadcasting corporation. Sister (1996), her first documentary film for the cinema, was also banned but, in 2002, she completed her debut feature film, Fish and Elephant, which, as the first Chinese movie to deal with lesbian issues, went on to cause an international sensation. In Lost in Beijing (2006), she and her camera follow in the tracks of the young Ping Guo who, with her husband, comes to Beijing from the provinces. We thus see the fate of a woman representing that of countless other migrant workers (estimated to total five million) in the megacity — exhausted, insecure and all but lost in Beijing. Emotionally, unsettlingly and hauntingly, the director shows us the restlessness and breathless modernity of a large Chinese city and the fight for survival in the boomtown that is Beijing.

I Love Beijing
Ning Ying, the Grande Dame of the Chinese cinema, first achieved world fame with her Beijing Trilogy, including I Love Beijing (2001). Unlike her younger colleagues, she was forced to live through the Cultural Revolution. Following film direction studies in Beijing and Rome, she was to work as assistant director on Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor among others. Her latest feature film Perpetual Motion is an intimate portrait of four successful middle-aged women who still have a number of scores to settle with one another. The way they behave is provocative, ironic and rebellious — in stark contrast to the cliché of reserved and tradition-bound Asian women. At the Festival, Ning Ying will be taking part in a workshop in which she will discuss her films and the conditions under which she has worked.

No doubt about it: Locust Tree Village, the revolutionary film produced in 1961 by the first Chinese woman film director Wang Ping is a true filmic rarity. It's the story of a loyal village headwoman who moves heaven and earth to ensure that village land is fairly distributed the way Mao intended.

Accompanying the twelve film programmes from China is Dai Jinhua, a film specialist based at the University of Beijing, who will be giving a comprehensive overview of the women directors working in the "Land of the Middle". Numerous other film-makers will also be on hand at seminars and talks to discuss their work with the Cologne public.

Plus, the Festival will be presenting the latest work by women film directors from all over the world, over a 100 films in the various sections …

International Best Debut Feature Film Competition
— endowed with a €10,000 and an Audience Prize sponsored by Choices magazine
Panorama – the latest discoveries of 2006 and 2007
Queer Looks – international lesbian and transgender films
Film Education – Girls Focus, a media training course for young women.

An extensive supporting programme, a special film section for schools and a broad range of specialist offers complete the profile of one of the world's most important women's film festivals, making it a unique meeting place for film makers and film aficinados of all ages.

Festival Grand Opening: 23 April 2008
Awards Ceremony: 27 April 2008
Venues in Cologne: Filmforum NRW im Museum Ludwig, Metropolis Kino, Filmpalette

For further information about the Festival and for downloads of this press release and of photos, please visit

If you have any queries about the Festival or about accreditation, please contact our press officer: Ursula Teich.

Dortmund|Cologne International Women's Film Festival
Festivalbüro 2008
c/o Kulturbüro Dortmund
Küpferstr. 3
D-44122 Dortmund
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25 September 2007

Women's Film Festival Under New Management
Preview of the 2008 festival from 23 – 27 April in Cologne: Focus on China

Management change
August 2007 saw a long era at the Dortmund|Cologne Women's Film Festival come to an end. Anne Schallenberg – who, for thirteen years, had carefully held the purse strings in Dortmund and, since 2006, in Cologne too – retired for personal reasons.

And the successor is … Christina Essenberger who can look back on many years work at the Filmhaus Bielefeld. She was in charge of management at the Theaterlabor im Tor 6 in Bielefeld for nine years and, also, of an international drama festival there. By taking over management at the Dortmund|Cologne Women's Film Festival, she is going back to her roots in film. We are thrilled to have found such a highly competent and experienced managing director. In tandem with artistic director Silke J. Räbiger, Ms Essenberger will now co-run Germany's leading women's film festival — the outcome, in 2006, of a fusion between the two long-standing film festivals of Feminale (Cologne) and femme totale (Dortmund).

From 23 – 27 April 2008, Cologne will be host to the next edition of the international film festival. The Cologne/Dortmund festival team is already busy planning the five-day programme with approx. 100 films and numerous related events.

Country Focus on China

The 2008 Festival will be taking the recent extensive social, political and economic changes in China as a platform for the latest work of Chinese (women) film directors. Thanks to a research trip there this summer, Ms Räbiger was able to forge links with the Chinese film scene. In addition to an intensive exchange of ideas with the Commission of Documentary Film of China and its Department of Female Directors, there was also opportunity for talks with the Beijing Film Academy and two renowned women film-makers: Ning Ying (Railway of Hope / Beijing Trilogy) and Li Yu. The latter took part in the competition section at the 2007 Berlinale Festival with Lost in Beijing. She has also initially accepted an invitation to sit on the jury of the International Best Debut Feature Film Competition 2008. A hugely impressive portrait of an "ever-expanding" megacity, Lost in Beijing is to be screened in our Country Focus section along with other feature films and the usual tapestry of shorts, documentaries and fringe productions. Also scheduled within the overall framework of the 2008 Festival are detailed discussions between Chinese and German (women) documentary makers. The Focus on China section will thus be zooming in on the way Chinese women film-makers view the world artistically, on the subject-matter they choose and the context in which they work.

Festival sections

The International Best Debut Feature Film Competition for next-generation women film directors is to be held for the fourth time, as always in Cologne. Eight films will compete for the €10,000 prize which is awarded by a jury made up of international film experts.

In the Panorama section, we present a round-up of the most important film productions from 2006/2007. Open to all genres, Panorama acts as a springboard for film-makers and aims to spotlight – from the angles of both content and style – a wide range of bold and innovative films from the experimental short through to the full-length feature.

Our now traditional, but not conventional, Queer Looks section offers once again a weird and wonderful look at the world's latest lesbian and transgender films.

Entries to all sections should be submitted by 30 November 2007. For more information, please visit

Internationales Frauenfilmfestival Dortmund I Cologne

Press officers
Stefanie Görtz / Ursula Teich
c/o Kulturbüro Dortmund
Küpferstr. 3
44122 Dortmund
Fon: 0231 502 5480
Fax: 0231 502 5734