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The Feminist Cinema of Margarethe Von Trotta

Margarethe von TrottaMargarethe von Trotta

Saturday, March 3-----The Miami International Film Festival has traditionally been a supportive environment for female directors. This year, the Festival is showcasing more than 40 films from women directors from all over the world, including several highly anticipated films from acknowledged film veterans. One such pioneer is the German director Margarethe von Trotta, whose newest film I AM THE OTHER WOMAN (Ich Bin Die Andere) screens this evening as a Gusman Premiere at the Festival's premiere venue, the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami.

Margarethe von Trotta is one of the icons of international feminist cinema. She has had a 40-year long career as both an acclaimed actress and a highly respected director. She first attracted international attention with starring roles in the films of such iconic German directors as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Volker Schlöndorff (whom she eventually married, writing many of his subsequent films, as well as co-directing the acclaimed THE LOST HONOR OF KATHARINA BLUM in 1975). Von Trotta became the New German Cinema’s most prominent and successful female filmmaker with such landmark films as THE SECOND AWAKENING OF CHRISTA KLAGES (1977), MARIANNE AND JULIANE (1981, winner of the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion), ROSA LUXEMBOURG (1986, winner of the German Best Film Oscar), THE PROMISE (1995, a German Best Director Oscar) and the Holocaust drama ROSENSTRASSE (2003, Italian Oscar winner as Best Director). Von Trotta is a living legend whose  films feature strong female protagonists, usually set against an important political background, with the effect of the political on the personal (and vice versa) her great cinematic theme.

In I AM OTHER WOMAN, von Trotta's political touch is considerably lighter, as she explores the endless struggle between men and women (which, come to think of it, is a rather political subject after all). The veteran directors brings her considerable gifts to this story of a young engineer’s one-night stand with a mysterious woman, which sends him down an Alice In Wonderland-like rabbit hole of erotic obsession and domestic dysfunction. The film stars German film star August Diehl (the priest in Volker Schlondorff’s THE NINTH DAY), Katja Diemann (Venice Film Festival Best Actress for ROSENSTRASSE) and Oscar nominee Armin Muehller-Stahl (SHINE). The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and has since become a European arthouse hit.

Sandy Mandelberger, Miami Online Dailies Editor 

Comments (1)

“Ich Bin die Andere” (“I am the Other Woman”) by Margarethe von

Why the heroine of the film Carolin does resist her love for the sensitive and passionate young man, Robert, whom mere physical closeness to her can put into erotic trembling and who can risk near everything in order to be with her? This is the question von Trotta puts in front of the viewers. Indeed, why does Carolin try to avoid love? – Is it for the sake of loyalty to her father, a charismatic old man? Because of her childhood traumas and the personal complexes they trigger? Help to answer these questions comes from von Trotta indirectly – through the very form of the film: she composes it as a kaleidoscope of hero’s dreams of a pleasant, intriguing, prosperous and permanently renewed reality. More exactly, Robert’s dreams are not personal at all but quite standard and commercial, like ads, a tourist kind of dreams about being in the center of comfortably enveloping reality as collage of segments as if privatized for personal pleasures - standard hotels, restaurants, lobbies and tourist locations, enigmatic encounters, mysterious women. Robert‘s dreams are like today’s life of the upper middle class inhabitants of the West when reality of political clashes and existential dilemmas has disappeared and what is left is our sentimental sensitivity inflamed by commercial cinema. With “Ich Bin…” Von Trotta has joined other exceptional film-directors in the criticism of today’s mass-cultural sensibility – Liliana Cavani in “Beyond Obsession” (1982), Helma Sanders-Brahms in “Future of Emily” (1985) and Alain Tanner in “A Flame in my Heart” (1987). In her film she underlines the contrast between unreal values (including amorous sex and addiction to luxury) seductively imposed by commercial civilization, and a genuine reality we can barely discern through our nostalgic memories of a generalized authentic past. In “Ich Bin…” what from the first glance looks like a fight between adulthood (Carolin and Robert’s love) and her childhood fixations becomes a fight between taste for genuine experiences nurtured in Carolin by her father [although a person with authoritarian air] and the childlike frivolous imaginary inside all of us projected into our souls by the artificial conditions of our life. The Father is not always a “demonic” figure in our unconscious – asserts von Trotta’s film. In comparison with today’s frivolous and obsessive life style some old fathers deserve to win. Please, visit: to read about films by Godard, Bergman, Bunuel, Kurosawa, Resnais, Pasolini, Bresson, Bertolucci, Fassbinder, Alain Tanner and Liliana Cavani (with analysis of shots from films). By Victor Enyutin

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Mandelberger Sandy

March 6-15, 2009

United States

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