Following major awards and retrospectives this year in Berlin and New York, Ulrike Ottinger has produced a valuable new piece of contextual evidence: a künstlerroman, if you will. While some may know Ottinger for her role in the New German Cinema of the 1970s and 80s (including Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia, VIFF ’89), Paris Calligrammes is named after the Left Bank bookstore that served as meeting ground for a circle of émigré poets, painters, and sculptors, and covers her brief, fraught, and formative time in 1960s Paris, a period in which she practiced painting and photography, but not yet filmmaking.

Indeed, the first incursion of cinema comes in images of bodies piled up by police outside the Rex Cinema, brutalized and murdered for protesting against the Algerian War. British actress Jenny Agutter reads Ottinger’s thoughtful and reflective text over a montage of film clips, found footage and home movies, grappling with what personal and national archives can and can’t say.

"A work of vital and energetic modernism." - Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Berlinale Camera Award, Berlin 20

Media Partner
North American premiere
Director Icon Director
Ulrike Ottinger
Producer Thomas Kufus, Kornelia Theune
Screenwriter Ulrike Ottinger
Cinematographer Ulrike Ottinger
Editor Anette Fleming
Production Company Zero One film, Idéale Audience, INA, ZDF/3Sat
Source Sweet Spot Docs
Germany/France 2019 129 min. German with English subtitles Trailer | Review 1 | Review 2


Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Ottinger, Ulrike headshot


Ulrike Ottinger has been a unique and provocative voice in German cinema since the early 70s. Over the past 40 years, she has directed 26 films, including award-winning feature length fictions and experimental documentaries. Ottinger has been a widely lauded photographer throughout this time; she has also worked as a theatre director and ethnographer and she has published several books.

Photo: ©Anne Selders

Selected Filmography
Madame X: An Absolute Ruler (1978); Joan of Arc of Mongolia (1989); Still Moving (2009)