Friday 9 February 2024

The All-Round Reduced Personality (Re-dupers) [1978]

 Helke Sander, who was a pioneering feminist activist, influential voice on the left and experimental filmmaker, existed in the overlapping intersections between cinema, politics and womanhood. Edda, her alter-ego in her brilliant feature-length directorial debut which she herself essayed, also had to similarly juggle between artistic impulses, political activism, low-paying job, economic survival, subaltern status as woman, and role as a single working mother in BDR. She works as a freelance photo-journalist that necessitates navigating through multiple assignments to make ends meet, wherein she mustn’t imbue any progressive political meanings into her stunning B/W images; she has a little daughter who loves clinging to her; she often has to work out of her tiny flat – which she shares with her lover and a friend – thus coalescing her personal, political and professional spaces; and she’s a member of a collective of politically minded women artists like herself. When they win a coveted government commission to create open-air photographic installations across West Berlin – a public album to further the city’s glamorous consumerist conception, and in turn undermine the socialist associations of their counterparts in the East – they decide to push the envelope by presenting a sardonic critique of the city’s self-image and subversive interpretations of the ubiquitous Wall. Unsurprisingly, their project elicits unfavourable reactions among the establishment and men. The film’s tone was one of tenderness and empathy, despite its spare aesthetics and stark monochromatic visuals, which were counterpointed by its mock-serious nature – wryly underscored by its ironic title which was a play on a communist maxim –, urgency, solidarity, and modernism. Its long tracking shots of the city, interestingly, reminded me of Akerman’s haunting News from Home from the previous year.

Director: Halke Sander

Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Feminist Film

Language: German

Country: Germany

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