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Bingo - You Got to Be Lucky
by Birgit Schrumpf

Should we call this “women power”? This documentary is scripted and filmed by two women (Gisela Tuchtenhagen, Margot Neubert-Maric) and produced by a woman (Linda Matern). The main protagonists are five country women living in northern Germany, near the Danish border. They speak “plattdeutsch”, the local language, and share the same hobby – Bingo. All of them are between 65 and 75 years, were married, had small children, lost their husbands and coped with their share of hardship. Since retirement Gisela, Christel, Elke, Helga and Emmi have more time on their hands but there is also loneliness. Instead of sitting in front of the TV, as Emmi states, it is more fun to play Bingo. Some ladies play up to three times per week, even crossing the border to Denmark where one can play for money. This keeps the adrenalin going.

This enjoyable documentary is also a very personal and vivid history lesson about the so called “forgotten generation”. One woman remembers being a little girl during the Russian occupation, when an officer regularly gave her food. She reminded him of his own daughter far away. The women talk openly of their childhood, growing up in humble circumstances during and after the war, starting work as household help or on the farm straight after their school years. It was hard work for little money. Their high hopes and dreams had to give way to reality. Nothing was easy. And still, there are also stories of mischief and fun, like clandestine meetings with first boyfriends despite rigid rules and strict controls. Thinking of the past and missing her husband, Christel says sadly, “Time does not heal any wounds”. Gisela, who came from Berlin as a young girl, had to learn the local “plattdeutsch” before anyone would give her work. She is now firmly rooted in the community and doesn’t look back. When her son and his biker friends come past on their Sunday outings, she spoils them with home-baked cake.