February 2018, arsenal cinema

Ula Stöckl Retrospective

DAS ALTE LIED, 1992

"'The private is political' provides a key to the art of film, with which I can highlight power structures right into the most intimate of relationships." (Ula Stöckl) This thought not only runs through Ula Stöckl's film oeuvre, but also forms the basis of her extensive curatorial activity in numerous international selection committees, as well as of her work as a professor of directing in the US. It dates back to the early 1960s when she was one of the few women to start making films in West Germany. At this time, what she knew was that she wanted to work as a screenwriter. She applied to the Ulm School of Design and was the first woman to get into the Institute of Film Design. Alexander Kluge, who built up the film department with Edgar Reitz, asked her whether she could imagine taking full responsibility for her work as a filmmaker. He said that this was something completely new and that the idea was to pick up on the position of auteur from the early film era. Stöckl made her first short in the fortress next to her film school, using a silent 35-mm Arri camera: ANTIGONE (1964), a classic epic, is seven minutes long, with the plot reduced to sheer moments. The director’s feature debut NEUN LEBEN HAT DIE KATZE (1968) is considered to be West Germany’s first feminist film and became a cult film. Ula Stöckl has since written, made and produced over 25 documentaries, features and television films, which focus on female mythological characters, on the conflicts between people and generations, and on violent power structures. She made "Tales Of The Dumpster Kid" (25 episodes) and "The Golden Thing" with Edgar Reitz.

For many years, Ula Stöckl was on the selection committees of various international festivals, where she also worked as a moderator: She was on the selection committee for the Berlinale competition for 20 years, for the Festival de Films de Femmes in Sceaux and then in Créteil near Paris for 15 years and for the Venice International Film Festival for two years. In 1999, she was awarded the Konrad Wolf Prize of the Akademie der Künste. Since 2004, she has taught at the University of Central Florida (UCF), focussing on direction and production, as well as on women in film, women in front of and behind the camera and German cinema.

This program curated by Bärbel Freund and Thomas Mauch features 17 films by Ula Stöckl made between 1963 and 1993 and one made in 2014 and provides an insight into her work overall. Ula Stöckl will attend all the screenings.

KLEINE LÖWE UND DIE GROSSEN or DIE PATRIARCHEN UND DIE DIPLOMATIE (The Little Lion and the Big Ones, FRG 1973, 9.2.) The little lion is 11-year-old Martin, who goes to Rome with his uncle. He is always taken for a girl because of his nice long hair and his uncle wants him to go to the hairdresser’s. But Martin doesn’t care if people think he’s a girl. Childish self-assertion against the education of adults.

ERIKAS LEIDENSCHAFTEN (Erika’s Passions, FRG 1976, 9.2.) “Erika and Franziska haven't seen each other for 4 years. 10 years earlier they both felt that they had the same chances in life: both were young, attractive and imaginative. […] Erika (Karin Baal) is the practical one. She says, "I will earn our daily bread. You go and find out what you might be interested in doing with your life." What she doesn't say is her expectation "...and then you can earn the money and I can go and find out what I want to do with my life.” […] Franziska (Vera Tschechowa) is all too happy to do this. She changes her aims easily and often, and never reaches her goal. Maybe because she doesn't have one.” (Ula Stöckl)

GROSSKÜCHE (FRG 1964, 10.2.) A miniature from the director’s time at the Ulm School of Design. Women peeling potatoes. Target of the work: Large quantities of potato salad.

EIN GANZ PERFEKTES EHEPAAR (A Very Perfect Couple, FRG 1974, 10.2.) "Angela (Doris Kunstmann) discovers a niche in the television program and advises couples in crisis. Her husband (Gerd Baltus) co-runs an institute for psychotherapy. He defends Angela’s success to his colleagues by saying that intuition sometimes leads to more success than scientific results. Both work towards equality and promise to stay at each other’s side in an open relationship. But men have a structural advance in relationships, while women usually have emotional after-sight. Angela does away with her rival while Robert befriends with his wife’s lover." (Ula Stöckl)

MUSIKER WEBER (FRG 1963, 10.2.) A miniature from the director’s time at the Ulm School of Design.

DER SCHLAF DER VERNUNFT (Sleep of Reason, FRG 1984, 10.2.) "One of my favorite mythological characters is Medea, who gives up her power for love of a man and pays a heavy price. In my version, I portray Dea (Ida di Benedetto), a successful gynaecologist, in the last stage of her marriage: Both daughters are grown and following their own paths. Her husband Jason (Christoph Lindert) has a mistress and wants to separate. Jason and Dea studied medicine as young people with equal opportunities. He chooses to work for a pharmaceuticals company, while she opts to work on a research project for the contraceptive pill. She fights against the pill, whereas he fights for it." (Ula Stöckl) The film won the German Film Award in 1985, a Silver Filmstrip and the German Film Critics Award.

HIRNHEXEN (FRG 1972, 11.2.) Suddenly a man commits suicide. Some seem to know why; they say he did it because…  "A sensitive, tender film, which is as kind to its actors as the protagonists could wish. The camera is patient; the microphone picks up well the voices of the young, non-professional actors. Just like one-person slips into the skin of another: you don't always understand this film, but it changes you nonetheless." (Enno Patalas)

HASE UND IGEL (Rabbit and Porcupine, FRG 1974, 11.2.) The difficulties faced by women during their sexual liberation or in an open relationship are the subject of this film. The young secretary Brigitte quits her monotonous job to realize a great dream and live with her five lovers - the long-distance driver Hans, the precision engineer Oliver, the chef Günther, the pastry chef Max and the painter and church restorer Frank.

HABEN SIE ABITUR? (Do You Have A High-School Certificate? FRG 1967, 11.2.) Ula Stöckl asks young men and women trying to obtain a high-school certificate as mature students. The parents of young women assume that their daughters will get married anyway, so what’s the point in putting time and money into education? The parents of young men do not ask this question.

NEUN LEBEN HAT DIE KATZE (The Cat Has Nine Lives, FRG 1968, 11.2.) "This film is about five young women, their everyday experiences, desires, sexual behavior and fantasies. What is particular are the filmic metaphors of female desire, the fact that amateur and professional actors work together and the combination of imaginative or dream sequences with levels of reality.” (Ula Stöckl) – “To begin with, there is some real laughter in Ula Stöckl's film. The women don’t stop laughing. Not a bad way to start withdrawing from masculine rules of language." (Frieda Grafe)

HILFT UNS DENN NIEMAND (FRG 1986, 12.2.) "The so-called Golden 20s were a time of clubs and pleasure palaces, but also of bitter poverty, hunger and despair. Despite Paragraph 218, in 1924 between 500,000 and 800,000 women had abortions. 10,000 died in doing so. 80,000 suffered for the rest of their lives. In the ninth episode of our UNHEARD OF series about the women’s movement in Germany, Ula Stöckl explores Paragraph 218." (Television announcement from 1987)

DIE WILDE BÜHNE (The Wild Stage, G 1993, 12.2.) A film about the actress, singer and cabaret star Trude Hesterberg, who founded the literary cabaret "The Wild Stage" in 1921 and ran it until the theater burnt down in 1923. "How did Trude Hesterberg manage to scrape together the funds necessary to set up her own cabaret? To earn her living she sang the title role of the operetta "The Merry Widow" by Franz Lehar. She commuted every day between the Metropol Theater in Friedrichstrasse and her cellar theatre at the Theater des Westens. […] The acrobats and musicians of the GOSH circus, a well-known group of artists, transform themselves into the protagonists of the time. They portray the characters of Trude Hesterberg, Walter Mehring, Kurt Tucholsky and Joachim Ringelnatz, singing their songs and reciting their literary work." (Ula Stöckl)

DEN VÄTERN VERTRAUEN, GEGEN ALLE ERFAHRUNG (The Heiresses, FRG 1982, 13.2.) "In this film, my protagonist explores ‘history’ on several levels. Using a photo album sent by her mother, she catalogues her own experiences in France and also questions what her father did in the war. As an au-pair in Paris, Melanie experiences the outbreak of the Algerian War and makes a political decision for the first time: She speaks up against the war and frequents people who are actively involved against it." (Ula Stöckl)

REDE NUR NIEMAND VON SCHICKSAL (Don’t Talk about Fate, G 1992, 13.2.) With Grischa Huber and texts from Friedrich Hölderlin's "Hyperion". "We dramatized these excerpts in the landscape of No-Mans-Land, the area in which the torn-down wall was being turned to rubble." (Ula Stöckl)

DAS ALTE LIED (The Old Song, G 1992, 13.2.) Dresden, December 1990. "This is one of my last films and my first after German Reunification. Once again, I explored the battle of societies, the battles in families and between the sexes. Who is Ilse? Her laughter and her songs haunt the film. Did her sister Katharina really denounce her? Did Alf really sacrifice his career for the sake of his love for her? Is Ilse still alive or does she only still exist as a symbol of joie de vivre and strength in the dreams of these people, whose stories are told in this film?"  (Ula Stöckl "Many viewers find Ula Stöckl's films difficult and inaccessible. For me they have an individual and unique attraction. Their stories play out on various different levels simultaneously. They compliment each other and give the viewer room to make associations on various different levels." (Iris Gusner)

ANTIGONE (FRG 1964, 14.2.) Antigone (off): "Die schönste Lust und bringt sie auch den Tod, ist mir, den Bruder immer von neuem zu begraben."

DIE WIDERSTÄNDIGEN "ALSO MACHEN WIR DAS WEITER …" (The Resistors "their spirit prevails …", Katrin Seybold, Ula Stöckl, G 2014, 14.2.) In this documentary film, the last living witnesses of the Weiße Rose, resistance movement talk about how they continued to risk their lives to resist Hitler’s regime after the Scholls were executed. Ula Stöckl completed the film in 2014, using interviews by the filmmaker Katrin Seybold who died in 2012. "We will never know how many people took the risk of being discovered by the Gestapo in Germany. Katrin Seybold met some of them and convinced them to testify in front of the camera. That’s why I also give her a voice at the beginning and end of this film." (Ula Stöckl) (bf)

An event in cooperation with Deutsche Kinemathek, curated by Bärbel Freund and Thomas Mauch. Thank you to Jeanne Richter and Philipp von Lucke.

arsenal cinema: Magical History Tour – 
Two become one

07:30 pm Cinema 2


Zur Sache, Schätzchen

Zur Sache, Schätzchen May Spils FRG 1968
With Werner Enke, Uschi Glas, Henry van Lyck
35 mm German OV 80 min

arsenal cinema: Time and memory: The cinema of Terence Davies

08:00 pm Cinema 1


A Quiet Passion

A Quiet Passion UK/Belgium 2016
With Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle
DCP OV/GeS 124 min