Home of Echoworld Communications

To Echo Germanica Homepage
October 2003 - Nr. 10


The Editor
To the Editor
Antje berichtet
Vienna Connection
Zurich Connection
Toronto Connection
Letzte Kraftanstrengung
KW and Beyond
Filmfest Stories
With Anton Kuerti
Hier O.K. Berlin!
Herwig Wandschneider
German-American Day
Stephen Harper Statement
Essay Contest
Old German Tradition
President Rau's Message
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
TSO & Lars Vogt on Piano
TSO: Composer Wanted
TSO - Boris Berezovsky
Dietrich & the Phone
Wins "Golden Shell"
Reubens Returned
Financial Advice
Frauenkirche Unveiled

Filmfest Stories

  by Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

Margarethe von Trotta

Not only did I see several German movies, we especially followed Margarethe von Trotta during her visit in Toronto. She proved to be more than a worthwhile subject to observe. No matter where she appeared her personality won everyone over instantly. Her natural and easy way of communication did not at all reflect her fame and status. She is a woman working in film, knows all the trials and tribulations of her industry and recommends to anyone who wants to succeed in this business to be ready for a fight. "You really have to be certain that this is what you want to do", she told young aspiring filmmakers in a panel discussion. She quoted Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to the audience: "Dreams are the premonitions of ability!"

How true! Without the dreams of the artists, there would not be much future in anything. This is a recurring point of discussions I am having with any artist I meet and it is amazing to hear how strong the agreement on this point is among them. Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci are only 2 of the most obvious examples.

Karl J. Schmidt, Uwe Harnack & wife, Marianne BathAt the reception the Goethe Institutes gave in her honour just before the Gala in Roy Thomson Hall around the corner she mingled freely with diplomats, film fest types and members of the local business community. There was no one who did not have considerable admiration for her filmmaking abilities and she rewarded everyone with her very personal comments.

Margarethe von Trotta & Piers HandlingThe French Consul General with Maria Schrader, Pamela Katz & Margarethe von Trotta



Margarethe von Trotta & Maria Schrader

As a director she is an actor’s dream come true, as her artists will readily attest to, perhaps because she was an actress herself and understands the creative process very well from all sides, not just the technical ones, which she learned from ex-husband Volker Schloendorf during their collaborations. In her speeches she showered her talents with much praise, diverting attention away from herself as much as possible, yet graciously accepted the ovations given her.

She is aware that she is more appreciated elsewhere than in Germany, but we hear that her movie Rosenstrasse is now running in Germany and well liked, despite the not so enthusiastic reviews of some critics.

In conversation with Margarethe von TrottaIn a personal interview we spoke about critics and their job of having to review a film from a professional "hat". This appears not to leave enough room for a fair and well-rounded point of view, she feels.

I saw Rosenstrasse two times myself: before the Film Fest, reported on already in the last issue, and again at the gala. I too had to admit that the first time I did not allow myself the luxury of full spectatorism.
I suppressed all urges of emotions to surface. I kept my hat as a reviewer on at almost all times, was not willing to be an effect. But when I saw the film a second time, at the gala, in the safety of a balcony seat, I allowed myself to experience the full impact of the communication of the film and its message. And this time the emotional impact made me cry.

An animated directorThe use of symbolism is in von Trotta’s hands a powerful tool for reaching into our souls. The many nuances of grief, anger, astonishment, fear, terror and complacency she manages to get out of players was not so apparent on the small review screen at the Film Institute before the festival, but on the big screen in Roy Thomson Hall it became very apparent that this was a great artistic collaboration of talent.

Margarethe von Trotta knows about the conundrum that reviewers have to cope with. Often times it happens that several viewings will change a critics mind, as colleagues have attested to. This would be especially important for a movie with a more serious theme, such as Rosenstrasse. It is a movie that is not out to entertain, but to enlighten while not missing engaging and entertaining elements.

The usual European concerns in regards to the Hollywood machine do not apply to her, she said. "I am a European and I make European movies. There is no danger of them to come running for me" she laughs.

By the same token she told me on the patio of the Intercontinental Hotel that it was Hollywood and the movie Schindlers List that made Rosenstrasse more possible. Without the Hollywood nod that in fact there were a few good Germans during the oppressive dictatorship of the Third Reich no one would have been interested in supporting a project dealing with Germans that show tremendous civil courage in the face of sheer overwhelming suppression.

This change in attitude towards history and the arts that deal with the subject matter is to be welcomed in a world that is still embroiled in bloody disputes. A movie like Rosenstrasse serves as a reminder that courage is a desirable character trait worth emulating.

Rosenstrasse was fortunate in picking up a North-American distribution deal during Toronto’s International Film Festival. Look out for this important movie, which will be shown here perhaps as early as January. The art of Margarethe von Trotta has yet again the power to shift viewpoints and perceptions.

Her next project she would like to be a bit closer to present times, perhaps a story about the STASI. We can hardly wait.

Since Margarethe von Trotta worked for many years with Rainer Werner Fassbinder you might want to rekindle your acquaintance with this famous German filmmaker. Toronto Cinemateque is presenting a comprehensive retrospective. "Imitations of Life" runs from Oct. 17 to Dec. 3, showcasing 23 films. No doubt your favourite is among another grouping of "Close to Heaven". Details at www.bell.ca/cinematheque .


To Top of Page

Send mail to webmaster@echoworld.com  with questions or comments about this web site.
For information about Echoworld Communications and its services send mail to info@echoworld.com .

Copyright ©2010 Echoworld Communications