Remake. Frankfurter Frauen Film Tage 2023
Kinothek Asta Nielsen e.V. presents Remake. Frankfurt Women's Film Days for the fourth time. Unlike most film festivals, ours does not present a competition programme, nor does it impose genre, format or premiere specifications on itself. The Kinothek will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. For nearly a quarter of a century, it has championed the still under-recognised film work of women through film presentations, thematic programmes, exhibitions, and retrospectives, and has encouraged debate about gender relations in film.
Since the first edition of Remake in 2018, the programme has had three focal points: this year's central theme is "In the Company of Others: Feminist Perspectives on Closeness, Collective Responsibility and Solidarity in Film". This theme, which brings together a wide variety of films about women's initiatives, oppositional self-organisation and queer-feminist collectives, inspired the motif on the festival poster and programme booklet. The photograph shows Essie Coffey (1941-1998) at the wheel of a minibus during the filming of MY SURVIVAL AS AN ABORIGINAL (Australia 1978). On the roof of the vehicle is camerawoman Martha Ansara. The film tells the story of life in the township of Brewarrina, also known as Dodge City, in New South Wales, Australia. Coffey not only critically examined the ongoing effects of colonisation on the indigenous population – and thus on her community; she was also an activist who organised resistance practices.
With the tribute to CHAOS FILM and Hildegard Westbeld, Remake continues the "historiography" of feminist film festivals and initiatives. This year we honour the work of Berlin film worker, activist and producer Hildegard Westbeld, who founded the first distribution company for films by and for women in the late 1970s. The Kinothek recently acquired Hildegard Westbeld's collection.
Each edition of Remake includes a solo retrospective. In 2023, this is dedicated to Frankfurt documentary filmmaker Edith Marcello. Marcello's film work is primarily concerned with social movements and critical analyses of the present from the perspective of migrants, workers, and dropouts. Making parts of Marcello's film work re-accessible for a revival was tantamount to media archaeological work. Though we managed to find screening copies, there is still much to be done to critically recognise, further research, and bring her extensive documentary work – which now constitutes valuable historical documents – back to the public.
For the third time, Kinothek Asta Nielsen has commissioned a composition from Dutch silent film composer and pianist Maud Nelissen. Following HINDLE WAKES (GB 1927) and SHOES (USA 1916), this year's CineConcert will feature the Swedish silent film NORRTULLSLIGAN / THE NORTULL GANG. The film tells the story of four young women who live in a shared flat in 1920s Stockholm and must stand up to a patriarchal environment. City life, sexuality, gender hierarchies and exploitative working conditions are on view, as are solidarity and humour among women. As a festive highlight, the performance, with the world premiere of the music, will take place in the Cantate Hall of Volksbühne Frankfurt.
Gaby Babić, Karola Gramann and Heide Schlüpmann
Remake. Frankfurt Women's Film Days 2021
We at Kinothek Asta Nielsen initiated Remake. Frankfurt Women's Film Days in 2018. We see it as our task to bring film work by women to the screen with revivals and in new constellations and contexts. This film work, like the cinema itself, has a more than 125-year history. In seeking to inspire a modern audience with these screenings, we also present restoration projects and publications to accompany the festival. The first two festivals in 2018 and 2019 were very well received, which gave us the feeling that we were doing meaningful work.
Yet the coronavirus pandemic has also represented a turning point for us.
Like others, we carry out this work in the face of the rapidly increasing threat to all our livelihoods, with questions about meaningfulness and a view towards our dwindling prospects for the future (the word "crisis" is completely inadequate at capturing this). And we are conscious of the fact that there is no returning to any kind of questionable "normality".
Why should we still think about the cinema? Why draw on 1970s feminist film work, for example, and why screen silent films – let alone 35 mm copies?
The simplest answer is that we want to create a space where we can achieve an awareness of our time – together, as an audience. And also achieve awareness of the ways in which our time is connected to other times, stories and people.
With regard to this year's programmatic theme "... because it only counts if it makes money": Women, Work and Film, this includes making connections to and remembering the emancipatory struggles of workers who tried to get access to the ends, processes and interactions of social reproduction work. To overcome the alienation from nature and from one's self that modern, work-oriented society imposes on people. We are also interested in making connections with life concepts that are not completely subjugated to the ideology of technological progress and exploitation. Our film programme work can be seen as care work: we care for the story of women in film history and for the contemporary cinema audience, aware of how precarious our present is. We care, despite everything.
Several silent films with live musical accompaniment are part of the programme. Remake will make a guest appearance for the second time at Schauspiel Frankfurt with a CineConcert: internationally renowned composer-pianist Maud Nelissen has written music for piano, cello, and alto and soprano saxophone for Lois Weber's SHOES (USA, 1916). This silent film about the everyday reality of a young "shop girl" in the modern metropolis is one of the most important feminist films in the history of the cinema.
Part of Remake's concept is a look back at the history of feminist film festivals. This year, we remember the two first West German women's film festivals: Feminale, which took place for the first time in Cologne in 1984, and femme totale, which began its work in Dortmund in 1987. A short film programme and a podium discussion with filmmakers from that time bring the beginnings of these two festivals to the present.
This year, we pay homage to Frieda Grafe (1934–2002), the author and critic of West German and international cinema and film history. The programme consists of a selection of "Grand Hotel" films, which is taken from Grafe's 1990 text "Modern architecture at risk. Grand hotels in the entertainment industry". Readings, a lecture and discussions will accompany the films.
Remake. Frankfurt Women's Film Days 2019
Viewing history. HerStory in the cinema has been the focus of Remake 2. We looked for film histories in which, for example, women from Arab countries give testimony about their struggles for freedom; for films by women who tell us about their enslaved ancestors; and for those that make us aware of the history and present of their persecution and exclusion. Remake showed films that break with prevailing conventional images and narratives. The programme included films by directors who question the Western success story, and films that ask how we can continue living with the 20th century’s history of world wars and genocides. The focus was on films and the cinema themselves as forms and places of written history – history written from women’s perspective. In this context, the festival programme also unspooled a particular view of the history of queer cinema: Friday’s theme was queer cinema – “mon ciné”.
We were concerned here with histories which film – not words or writing – allowed (and still allow) women to tell and show. Silent film in particular transmits things that are undefined, intangible, and which cannot be boiled down to a concept. A number of silent films with live musical accompaniment were part of the programme. The highlight was a CineConcert at Schauspiel Frankfurt theatre: The internationally recognised composer and pianist Maud Nelissen has written music for a small ensemble for HINDLE WAKES, one of the most spectacular British films of the 1920s, which tells the story of the emancipation of a young female factory worker. Hindle Wakes provides insight into the English textile industry in Lancashire – the cotton connection to the American southern states – as well as the self-confidence of a worker.
Remake contained two further programmes in addition to its focus on viewing history. One continued the “written history” of feminist film festivals, which began with Remake 2018. In the late 1980s, women filmmakers in Eastern Europe established the international association KIWI – Kino Women International, which fostered exchange and closer cooperation among women in film, and organised conferences accompanied by film exhibitions. Film screenings and discussions brought the History of KIWI to the present.
The other programme screens the films of filmmaker, painter and photographer Ella Bergmann-Michel (1895-1971). We presented the manifold cultural film actitivities and social-reformist efforts of this pioneer of classical modernism, who is currently being rediscovered on an international level.
Remake. Frankfurt Women's Film Days 2018
The opening of the Remake festival was connected to the exhibit and event series “Votes for Women – The 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in Germany” at the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, which ran from August 2018 to January 2019. Our programme, that took place in November 2018, focussed on the theme “100 Years of Women’s Suffrage – 50 Years of Feminist Film Making”. Plans included films, introductory lectures, discussions, and supporting events. The festival consisted of several parts, including films on the suffragette movement and on general 1910s and 1920s legal topics such as sexual offences, matrimony, and abortion. In addition, there were be films depicting the conflict-ridden transformation of women’s roles, and the change in their status vis-à-vis work and love. All these topics pervade feminist film work up to now, each perhaps weighted and perceived differently. Our programme extended from the early 20th century to the present; at the same time, we intended to raise awareness that women’s emancipation movements have existed not only in Western nations, but also in other parts of the world.
The year’s solo exhibition was dedicated to Frankfurt filmmaker Recha Jungmann. We screened her three feature films and a number of shorts, all produced between 1967 and 1981. Recha Jungmann participated in discussions at the screenings.
2018's festival kicked off with a retrospective featuring the “Women’s Event” of the 1972 Edinburgh International Film Festival. We invited Laura Mulvey und Lynda Myles to be our guests: together with Claire Johnston (1940–1987) they were the women who brought the event to life.