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Margarethe von Trotta @ Birds Eye View

"Political turmoil. Terrorism. Economic shifts. Suspicion between citizens and state — and, following in the footsteps of Fassbinder, the emergence of a new independent film culture. The themes of Margarethe von Trotta's work couldn't be more compelling for a contemporary viewer, nor indeed their handy suggestions for the Big Society — her third feature The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (1978) is based on the true story of a young mother who robbed a bank in order to raise funds to keep open a child-care center threatened with closure by the government. The Birds Eye View festival's Filmmaker Focus on von Trotta is well-timed."

In her overview for Sight & Sound — also currently featuring Daniel Trilling's interview with Agnès VardaSophie Mayer notes that the program showcases "biopics of two remarkable German women: Rosa Luxemburg (1986) and Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen (2009). Eight centuries apart, each woman — Marxist revolutionary and Benedictine polymath — fought for women’s rights in language at once muscular and mystical, and von Trotta's films similarly move from highly dramatic events (often seen in flashback or visions) to eloquent scenes of conversation and emotional closeness to emphasise the flow between the personal and the political."

Birds Eye View has opened in London today, International Women's Day, and runs through March 17. The BFI Southbank series A Woman's Gotta Do… opens tomorrow and runs through March 31. Meantime, the filmmakers featured in the Guardian's "100 women" special today are Mira Nair, Marjane Satrapi, Franny Armstrong, Cindy Sherman, Emma Thompson, Victoria Wood, Kathryn Bigelow and Tacita Dean. Update: Nathaniel R has put together a history of "firsts" for women in film.

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