After coming of age in post-WWII Berlin and studying art, Margarethe von Trotta followed her burgeoning cinematic interests to France, where she immersed herself in the films of the French New Wave and flourished among fellow cineastes. She returned to West Germany to raise a family and be part of the New German Cinema, initially as an actress. But her own creative instincts would take hold, as would the impulse to be the change that she wanted to see—namely, become a female filmmaker in a movement that was short on them (her only peer was the late Helma Sanders-Brahms). Von Trotta began collaborating with then-husband Volker Schlöndorff on screenplays and then as an assistant director and finally as a co-director before making her own films and forsaking acting altogether. Often engaging with overtly political material, her work foregrounds women’s stories and explores the nature of female identity and multi-faceted relationships between women, never shying away from tough emotional terrain—and in the process providing dramatic banquets for some of Germany’s best actresses. Now von Trotta has returned to her cinephile roots with her illuminating documentary Searching for Ingmar Bergman (opening exclusively at the Quad November 2), and accordingly we return to her early work—both in front of and behind the camera—from the heyday of the New German Cinema.
Special thanks to the Goethe-Institut New York.