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  Introduction to the project Deutsche Version

In 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.

By 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.

Starting 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 by women. 

While 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.

In 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.

Emphases of f_films

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 attempts.

Interim result

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 Hansch/Gerlinde Waz) 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.

The 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.

Cataloguing 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.


  • Ally Acker: Reel Women: Pionneers of the Cinema, 1986 to the Present. New York 1991
  • Jackie Buet (Hg): Films de Femmes. Six Générations de Réalisatrices. Paris 1999
  • Cinegraph: Lexikon des deutschsprachigen Films. Hrsg. von Hans-Michael Bock
  • Frauen und Film. Hrsg. von Annette Brauerhoch, Gertrud Koch, Renate Lippert, Heide Schlüpmann
  • Gabriele Hansch / Gerlinde Waz: Filmpionierinnen in Deutschland. Ein Beitrag zur Filmgeschichtsschreibung. Abschlußbericht. Berlin 1998, 502 Seiten (unveröff.)
  • Claudia Lenssen: Departure from the ‚Women's Corner'. Women - Filmmakers in Germany Today.In: Kino. Exportunion of German Cinema (4/2001), S. 6-13 (eng)
  • Petra Mioc: Das junge französische Kino. Zwischen Traum und Alltag. St. Augustin 2000
  • Heide Schlüpmann: Unheimlichkeit des Blickes: Das Drama des frühen deutschen Kinos. Hrsg. in Zsarb. mit dem Deutschen Filmmuseum Frankfurt. Basel 1990
  • Amy L. Unterburger (Hg.): The St. James Woman Filmmakers Encyclopedia: Women on the Other Side of the Camera, Detroit [u.a.] 1999

    Kerstin Herlt
    Tel.: +49 (0) 69 96 12 20 11

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