About the Festival

Remake. Frankfurt Women's Film Days
Presented by Kinothek Asta Nielsen e.V.

In November 2018, the Kinothek Asta Nielsen in Frankfurt am Main presented the inaugural edition of Remake. Frankfurt Women’s Film Days, that takes place biennially since 2019. The third edition will take place in 2021.

The Kinothek has promoted film work by women for nearly twenty years through film presentations, thematic programmes, exhibitions and retrospectives, facilitating the discussion of gender relations in film. The Remake festival integrates a new event format into our previous work: a programme with a thematic focus will unfold in a mixture of festival and symposium. “Remake” refers to the connection with history that characterises all the Kinothek’s work: films spanning more than a hundred years emerge anew in the perception of viewers when they are shown today. Films exist only in their screening, so that the presentation of films is itself a form of film-making, a re-make. 

History constitutes a key aspect of the festival. Old films are not merely old; instead, if they are shown in a context where their significance can unfold, the past can be experienced through them as an element of the present day. Not least because of such connections, old films will be screened together with recent ones, and projected images will be accompanied by introductions, commentaries, talks, and discussions. Special attention will be paid to screening spaces and their creation – and to the extent possible, all films will play in their original format, whether it’s 35mm, 16mm, Super 8 with analogue sound, or digital. We feel particularly strongly about the musical accompaniment at silent film screenings. 

The formal structure of Remake corresponds to the content, whereby various epochs and genres are woven together in the programme. Topics such as women and gender relations in film, or aspects of queer cinema, come to light through their interconnection with other social phenomena, as with women’s emancipation in the context of migration, colonialism, or racism. Each edition of the Frankfurt Women’s Film Days originates in contextual links and expands in a variety of programmes that correlate to one another to form an overall design, a kind of “archipelago.” 

Remake will also always contain a programme section that is dedicated to a woman filmmaker whose work is threatened by oblivion and disappearance.

We want our programme to pay tribute not only to film history, but also to the history of feminist film festivals. The first of these, which took place in 1972 in New York and Edinburgh, were largely dedicated to the (re-) discovery of women filmmakers. Many of their works, which saw the light of projectors in the early 70s, have disappeared again, and copies can only be found with difficulty, if at all. Through revivals of past programmes and conversations with their organisers, we will remember this history, from which our work has also emerged. Each edition of Remake. Frankfurt Women’s Film Days will be dedicated to one of the earlier festivals.

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.