100 years of women’s suffrage in Germany – 50 years of feminist film work. Documentations of the suffragette movement open the programme: Emily Davison’s extraordinary – and fatal – act; protest marches; mass rallies; the first female representatives. These are followed by a work of docufiction in which a television presenter breaks in to the trusted West German news world with announcements from the underground of women’s lives: Programmhinweise (Programme announcements). At about the same time this film was made, the early 1970s, the women’s movement rediscovered La Souriante Mme Beudet. It’s a play on scenes from a marriage that became a classic of feminist cinema. May Spil’s self-portrait of the artist Das Portrait makes colourful fun of genius posturing. The last two works in the programme weigh heavier than Spil’s. Film was a weapon in Sarah Maldoror’s battle for freedom, as her voice was for singer Toto Bissainthe, to whom this short portrait is dedicated. Finally, we have the documentary Mouvement de libération des femmes iraniennes, année zéro to thank for the intrusion of cameras in political unrest. It captures the first resistance – a resistance of women – to the Khomeini government during the Iranian Revolution of March 1979.
“In the opinion of the leftists, the women were dividing the revolution and the class struggle; their issues were pronounced ‘trivial’ and ‘bourgeois’. The Islamists in turn accused the women of being degenerates, of ‘Westoxication’ and hostility towards Islam. (…) On the evening of 7 March 1979, Khomeini’s obligatory headscarf decree was announced. On the morning of 8 March, 5,000 women protested at Tehran University, climbing over the gate that had been obstructed by Islamists and entering the city. For the first time, the newly-established order met with resistance.” (Sandra Schäfer/Madeleine Bernstorff, Kabul/Tehran 1979ff, 2006).
The silent features will be accompanied on the piano by Eunice Martins.
GB 1910, P Pathé Frères Cinema, Print b/w, 35mm, 3 min, silent, BFI National Archive
This was one of the earliest mass marches organised by the suffrage movement, and up to 15,000 women marched from the Embankment to the Albert Hall to hear speeches from Christabel Pankhurst and other suffragette leaders (Ros Cranston, Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film).
GB 1910, P Pathé Frères Cinema, Print b/w, 35mm, 44 s, silent, BFI National Archive
This two-shot newsreel fragment surveys the scene at a Votes for Women protest on Trafalgar Square in the summer of 1910, when suffragists of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies presented petitions signed by supportive menfolk of Britain's towns and cities. (Edward Anderson, Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film)
GB 1913, P Gaumont Graphic, Print b/w, 35mm, 5 min, silent, BFI National Archive
This newsreel footage captures a milestone event in the campaign for women's suffrage: the trampling to death of activist Emily Davison under the hooves of the King's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby. […] A hundred years on, her motives are still debated and the film can tell us nothing about her state of mind; although she must have been aware of the scale of press coverage that would be present on the day […] (Holly Hyams, Make More Noise! Suffragettes in Silent Film).
D 1970, D, SC, E, Cast Christiane Gehner, C Christian Bau, S Klaus Wyborny, Print colour, DCP from 16mm, 10 min, German OV with Englisch SUB, KurzFilmVerleih Hamburg
F 1922, D Germaine Dulac, SC André Obey, based on a stage play by Denys Amiel and André Obey, C Maurice Forster, Paul Parguel, P Charles Delac, Marcel Vandal (Film d’art), Cast Germaine Dermoz, Alexandre Arquillère, Jean d’Yd, Madeleine Guitty, Yvette Grisier, Raoul Paoli, Armand Thirard, Print b/w, 35mm, 38 min, silent, French and German INT, EYE Film Instituut Nederland
Humdrum married life in the provinces. Monotonous days; empty time that the sensitive wife spends in the house, or with friends and pleasures as stupefying as the husband himself. She takes little escapes into society magazines and the fantasies they inspire, yearns for the death of the house tyrant, stages it – and fails. Resignation in the grey streets of the small town: the theatre of marriage continues. Due to this film’s feminist reception, it became one of Dulac’s best-known and most widely-screened works. (Heide Schlüpmann, Germaine Dulac. Der Film ist ein weit auf das Leben geöffnetes Auge, 2017)
D 1966, D May Spils, SC Werner Enke, Joachim Wedegärtner, May Spils, C Gerhard Fromm, Peter Rohe, E Jutta Brandstaedter, Cast Werner Enke, May Spils, Print colour, 35mm, 10 min, German OV, Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, May Spils
Although May Spils may have been an autodidact when it came to filmmaking, that didn’t keep her very first film, Das Porträt, a clever and humorous short colour film about the difficulties the artist herself faces when attempting to create a self-portrait, from being honoured at the International Film Week Mannheim back in 1966. (Sabine Schöbel, programme booklet for Aufbruch der Autorinnen II, 2016)
F 1984, D Sarah Maldoror, Print colour, DVD, 5 min, French and Creole OV with electronic German SUB
„Sarah Maldoror […] is respectfully regarded as the matriarch of African cinema (she was the first woman of color to make a feature film). For her, filmmaking was a weapon for struggle and liberation from the very beginning of her experiences in cinema.“ (African Film Festival New York, Biograpy Sarah Maldoror)
Her film Toto Bissainthe portraits the Haitian singer and actress of the same name. Along with the likes of Samb Makharam or Timité Bassori, Maldoror and Bissainthe were part of the 60’s ensemble of renowned theatre group „Les Griots“.
F 1979, D Sylvina Boissonnas, Claudine Mulard, SC Claudine Mulard, C Sylvina Boissonnas, Michelle Muller, Sylviane Rey, E, S Michelle Muller, P Des Femmes Filment, Print colour, 16mm, 13 min, French and Persian OV with electronic German SUB, AFDI Archiv für Forschung und Dokumentation Iran-Berlin e.V.
In 1979, Iranian Women invite the American feminist Kate Millett to celebrate March 8, the International Women's Day, in Tehran. On March 7, the religious leaders announce that women have to wear the Islamic veil. From March 8 to March 13, women and liberals demonstrate in the streets against the veil. A crew of four French feminists filmed these historical events before being expelled by the mullahs. (Claudine Mulard)
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