February, 2001, the “Deutsches Filminstitut” - DIF started the project
„f_films: female filmworkers in europe“ with the support of the Department
of Women and the Department of Culture in Frankfurt/Main.
building a database, the female director’s, camera women’s, female scriptwriter’s
and female producer’s extensive and continuous contribution to European
cinema shall be documented and shown. f_films views itself as a corrective
and completion of traditional film research and –history.
point for the research and documentation is the database of the DIF, which
amongst others includes 2500 German films that were made with huge involvement
looking for project partners, it turned out that the European
Coordination of Film Festivals/ Working Group Women and Film was initiating
its own database – sponsored by the European
Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam and the Ministry for
Urban Development and Residency, Culture and Sports of the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen
- for the collection of films by women which have been (or will be) screened
at European women’s film festivals. It
was more than useful for these two initiatives to bundle up their strengths
and collect their data in a combined database. Since the DIF has the necessary
competence and capacity for research and data management, the project
was located there. This combination ensures the f_films- database’s continuous
expansion and supports the cooperation of women’s film festivals in Europe.
addition, we receive helpful research-support from the “Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek”
in Berlin, the Export-Union
of German Cinema, as well as IRIS, the
Documentation-Center of the International Women’s Film Festival in Créteil,
to name but a few partners.
While the women's film festivals add continuously to the database with
the current films in their festival programs, the DIF's f_films-research
concentrates especially on the female pioneers of the era of the silent
movie and the young European cinema. Contrary to the works from the Seventies
and Eighties, which made their way into film history under the label "Women's
film", the works of the female silent movie-pioneers is researched
by only a few film historians. This gap could be closed - at least for
the German silent movie. The study "Filmpionierinnen in Deutschland"
by Gabriele Hansch and Gerlinde Waz uses 700 filmographies to impressively
prove that the history of the German film wasn't entirely written by men.
Large parts of this study's results poured into f_films.
Concerning the young European cinema we identify that the number of up-and-coming
female directors and camera women has increased largely over the last
years. But up to now no systematic collection of their film work existed,
which would have allowed statements about the continuity of their work
and the assertiveness of young women in film; or if even in the era of
the so-called post-feminism subjects are dealt with which exceed individual
f_films comprehends more than 4000 film titles. Many of these are contributed
by the participating women's film festivals. In this catalogue, the user
will also find numerous biographies and synopses which are referring to
non-European filmmakers. However, these references are not verified due
to the massive extent of data.
Female silent movie-pioneers
In the first phase of the project, we will introduce mainly unknown female
pioneers of the German silent movie. For example Olga Wohlbrück and
Iwa Raffay, the very first two female filmmakers in Germany, or Fern Andra
who started as early as 1915 her own film production company. Assumingly
little known is also the work of Rosa Porten, the elder sister of Henny
Porten, who is regarded to be one of the first female scriptwriters. As
already mentioned in the article "Weibliche
Biographieforschung in der frühen Filmgeschichte" (Gabriele
biographical research on these 'forgotten' female artist is very difficult.
In this phase of the project, DIF does not include portraits and biographies
of famous female filmmakers such as Leni Riefenstahl, Thea von Harbou,
Lotte Reiniger and others. Nevertheless, their works are included in the
database and can be referred to under Index
of Films or Free Text Search.
New European Cinema
Similar to this the main emphasis on the new European cinema is on young
German and European female filmmakers who are only little known. Considering
the enormous amount of data DIF can only provide a small, however in-depth,
selection of female filmmakers. Although hardly to be regarded as feminist
filmmakers, their works observe and depict the reality from a here and
then radical subjective, hence female, perspective. The database is not
aimed at establishing a common structure on different cinematic approaches.
If there are similarities in the films of Catherine Breillat and Claire
Denis, but also Maria Speth and Jessica Hausner, these are certainly to
be found in the strong physical presence of the (sexualized) body and
the lack of communication.
of the documents and usage of the database
Apart from detailed filmographies, users can investigate additional picture-
and text-documents such as photos, posters, summaries, film reviews, biographies
and interviews. The materials have been digitized and added to the database.
The cataloguing of the documents is based on the DIF'S experience of many
years. Apart from searching for texts, it enables structured search options,
so that film programs can be compiled or the appropriate films for scientific
work can be found.
Potential users of the database are film festivals, archives, documentation
centers, repertory cinemas, universities, schools and other educational
institutions, women's initiatives, among others.