The mini documentary film festival For Family Reasons dwells on the smallest societal unit: the family. “For family reasons” – We use this empty phrase as an explanation for something we don’t really want to explain. Each familial context produces its own rules and is thus difficult to comprehend from an outsider’s perspective. What makes a family? Which emotions does this subject produce and who defines its significance? In a traditional sense, kinship is defined by genetic resemblance, family seen as a biological structure. With this film series we want to expand the construct of the family using a more emotional cinematic approach.
Through the documentary films shown, the preconceptions about the concept of family are questioned. The films create an identity space for diverse and multi-faceted realities of families.
Funded by the Aktionsfonds des QM Soldiner Strasse in the frame of the programme Zukunftsinitiative Stadtteil, Soziale Stadt – Investition in die Zukunft, the Landesstelle für Entwicklungszusammenarbeit des Landes Berlin (LEZ) and the FU Berlin.
Hanna Döring is a trained tailor and graduated in film studies. She worked for the Cellu l'art short film festival in Jena and contributed to bi'bak's film program from 2016 to 2018. She also worked for the cinema of the German History Museum in Berlin and in the costume department of various film and theater productions.
Marie Rasper completed her bachelor's degree 2016 in art history / film science in Jena. In Berlin, she worked for Texte zur Kunst and the Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum for Contemporary Art. She is currently studying textile and surface design at the Kunsthochschule Weißensee in Berlin.
Merle Grimme/Felizitas Hoffmann, Germany, 2017, 18 min, OmeU
This work, which evolved whilst the director was studying at HFF Munich, questions motherhood. The women who openly share their doubts are represented anonymously. The taboo of questioning the almost sacred relationship between mother and child puts them under enormous pressure. The mothers speak openly about difficulties, doubts and fears that accompany them in motherhood and in which they seem to be more or less alone. The cinematographic work by the two female directors has a respectful approach to the topic, that listens carefully and doesn’t judge the women and their feelings.
Merle Grimme works as director, film-editor and producer. She absolved her Bachelor studies in Hildesheim and at the moment she studies at the HFF in Munich, in the field “documentary and TV journalism”.
Felizitas Hoffmann works as a director and screenwriter. She also studies at the HFF in Munich. In this context the joint work with Merle Grimme was developed.
Mutterstücke (Mother Pieces)
Sandra Kulbach/ Michaela Schäuble/ Nan Mellinger/ Johanna Straub, Germany 2006, 58 min, OV with English subtitles.
“The more I think about the relationship to my mother, the more clearly I realize that I shape my life consciously as a counterpart to hers. This position creates a special form of dependency, in which intimacy and distance both play important roles. This dynamic of attraction and rejection forms an area of tension, in which the film takes place.” (Michaela Schäuble’s comment on her film Roots from Mutterstücke.)
Mutterstücke formulates insecurities, intimacy and distance of an influential and life-long connection. Four mothers are portrayed by their daughters: the daughters share their view on their mothers and vice versa. The relationship complexity is shown in its brutality, but also in its warmth. Each one of the portraits can stand on its own, however, in a series, they offer and demonstrate the diversity of these relationships and in this case of the creative forms and choices of the film makers.
Sandra Kulbach, editor and filmmaker. She studied at the HFF in Munich and has been working as a freelancer since graduating.
Michaela Schäuble, documentary filmmaker and social anthropologist. She worked and taught at different universities. At present she is conducting research at the University of Bern in the field of ecstatic religious veneration of cults and of the Saints in the Euro-Mediterranean realm as well as with trance and stage-managing in ethnographic documentaries.
Nan Mellinger, lives and works in Munich. She is a freelancer and works in the field of cultural communication.
Johanna Straub, author and film-maker, was born in 1970 in Hamburg. Her first novel was published in 2007, it is titled The zebra has black stripes, so that you can see the white ones better. In 2010 her second novel followed: The best thing about it. In addition to her cinematic work in and on Mutterstücke, she co-produced the short film Dönerkebabuja together with M. Gürkan Önal.
The soil of the Magdeburger Börde is black and fertile. There is a castle and in it live seven teenagers and their educators. They call it Kleinstheim. Life moves between school and chat, love and social service. A year goes by and the world changes too. The film is about finding your own place in this world, in this time. The parents are physically absent – but their presence is always felt. A film about growing up, but not a typical children´s home movie.
Stefan Kolbe works as a freelance documentary filmmaker and cameraman and lives in Franzigmark, Berlin and Uckermark. Born in 1972 in Halle, East Germany, he worked as a newspaper photographer and journalist. He studied to be a film cameraman at Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Since the end of the 90s, Stefan Kolbe and Chris Wright have worked on several successful projects together.
Chris Wright works as a freelance documentary filmmaker, film editor and journalist and lives in Berlin. Born in 1972 in Radcliffe, England he studied German and French in Cambridge and Leipzig. He studied Film Editing at Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Since the end of the 90s Stefan Kolbe and Chris Wright have worked on several successful projects together.
What does it mean for a woman to remain childless in as country with the world’s highest birth rate? Aicha Macky explores this question in a personal and impressive way in her autobiographical film L’Arbre sans fruit. On the search for answers, the director gives a voice to women who have been marginalised and discriminated against for being childless and thus living outside of the norms of their society. L’Arbre sans fruit breaks with Nigerien taboos and is at the same time a courageous statement of female solidarity and self-empowerment.
Laura´s parents are deaf and only able to communicate via sign language. In a world primarily focused on people who can hear, the 12-year old girl has to support her family in mediating life’s daily challenges. Two Worlds depicts the small famiy's life in a sensitive way and shows Laura's struggle with her challenging role as translator.
Sarah Horst, Schwitzerland 2010, 27 min, OmEU.
A tragicomic portrait of a family that oversteps usual conventions. The father, a gay bon vivant was once notorious for his lush fashion shows and extravagant way of life. Excessive partying has left its mark on the parents and influenced the son. He takes on their business – “The Schluggstube bar” – a meeting point for the eccentric and scurrilous. With raw honesty, the family takes stock of living and growing together.
Sarah Horst was born in 1982 in Liestal, Switzerland. In Basel she studied Ethnology and finished her Masters Degree in 2010 in documentary filmmaking at Zurich University of the Arts.
Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter
Deborah Hoffmann, USA 1994, 44 min, OV with German subtitles.
A daughter’s portrait of her mother suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. The further the sickness develops, the more old role models have to be discarded. A new but nonetheless tender intimacy develops between the two and in the end we have to ask ourselves who we are when we forget everything.
Deborah Hoffmann is an American director and editor. Born in New York in 1947, she has worked in the San Francisco Bay area for over 25 years on numerous internationally acclaimed documentaries.
The autobiographical film My little one approaches a sensitive subject in an open and intimate manner. The director sees herself confronted with a life-changing decision: during her pregnancy it is discovered that her child has a fatal genetic disorder. “The prognosis has to be described as considerably bad”, is the assessment of the specialist. “ You have to decide!” he says. “The usual choice is the immediate termination of the pregnancy.” Katja Baumgarten decides against this option, choosing instead to spend what time she has with her son. Supported by her other children, her family and friends, among these the cinematographer Gisela Tuchtenhagen, the audience is able to follow along with this process and to share a glimpse of her son’s short life.
Katja Baumgarten, born in 1959, lives in Hannover. She trained as a midwife and did more than 25 years of home birth assistance. After graduating as a master student at the College of Fine Arts in Braunschweig, she also studied Fine Art and Film at the same institution. She then worked and taught documentary filmmaking from 1994 to 2000. Currently, she works as a journalist and filmmaker.
In Father’s Garden, director Peter Liechti portrays the everyday life of his estranged parents. In long conversations, Liechti tries to get closer to them and to listen to them. But when it comes to the past, the gap between the religious and petty bourgeois parents and the rebellious director become evident. In several scenes, a couple of rabbit puppets are used to reenact the parents’ behavior. Thus the film keeps changing between documentary film and performance.
The father is a meticulous documenter. The object of his observations is his own family. The continuous filming proves a source of conflict. Always an object in front of the camera, the daughter decides to take a step behind the scenes after her father’s death. Reviewing the considerable archive of moving images, Eva Vitija develops an intimate relationship with her father’s ways of working and living, creating a wonderfully eclectic movie which accentuates the complexities of family relationships.
Eva Vitija was born in Basel in 1973. Since 2002 she has been working as a screenwriter and script consultant in TV and cinema in Germany and Switzerland. She has written several film, TV and series scripts. My life as a film is Eva Vitijas first full-length film as a director. She created it during her master studies in documentary filmmaking at Zurich University of the Arts. It won the 2016 Prix de Soleure, the Basler and the Zurich Film Awards and was nominated for the best Swiss documentary film, a First Steps Award from the German Film Academy and an award from the International Documentary Association in Los Angeles.