© jip film & verleih

Frauen in Landschaften
Germany 2023

Opening 14 Sep 2023

Directed by: Sabine Michel
Writing credits: Sabine Michel

After the four enter and take a seat, writer-director Sabine Michel quickly asks questions that establishes similarities in their backgrounds. All grew up in East Germany, studied, married, have children. All are personable and passionate about what they do. And all are women: Anke Domscheit-Berg (Die Linke), Yvonne Magwas (CDU), Frauke Petry (AfD), and Manuela Schwesig (SPD). Different parties, different positions politically. The format is dry, static, with well formulated questions eliciting sometimes mollifying feedback. A quiet intensity builds with each point covered as Michel guides the film’s conversations.

Nothing alleviates the politicians’ answers about their challenges, particularly to/for women. They struggle to find balance, i.e., the truism about society’s expectations regarding womenfolk’s place in the home is magnified; interestingly, Germany’s current comprehensive daycare system for children comes from East Germany and another relates she returned to work two weeks after delivery during DDR-time. Traveling through different regions—Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Vogtland, and Saxony—issues range from sustainable development, the necessity of other energy sources following Putin’s Ukrainian invasion, reunification’s lingering aftermath 30 plus years on re: pay differences. Sexual misbehavior and sexist conduct, the German parliament and quotas, health issues, risks, and consequences are parsed. Their background stories reveal their ingrained affinity with nature in context with the beautiful landscapes where they stand, walk, rally and/or fish.

Uwe Mann’s careful cinematography fluctuates with each person’s perspective; Hanka Knipper’s steady editing could have included, having been introduced only at the beginning, repeating each politician’s name/party in lower thirds once/twice more to help audiences keep track of who’s who. Andreas Vorwerk and Jörg Theil’s sound design, and Oliver Prasnikar’s sound is worthy. Cathrin Pfeifer’s soundtrack is lively, upbeat and juxtaposes nicely with the women’s solid, sound deliveries and the measured pacing. There are surprises, and many takeaway gems from the Frauen in Landschaften. This timely documentary is for men as well. Hearing firsthand about the hurdles women must jump—something men take for granted—and how exhausting it is could affect future discourse, actions and how children are raised. (Marinell Haegelin)

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