Cinema femina: German director dissects women’s roles, relations

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Cinema femina: German director dissects women’s roles, relations

Whatever country Doris Dorrie visits, she can find a relationship between its food and its women’s issues. As the German director of such critically-acclaimed films as “Naked” and “Nobody Loves Me,” the Korean lunch before her press conference on a recent weekday afternoon at the Women’s Film Festival in Seoul left her caught between two feelings: The pleasure of eating good food and knowledge of how women had to labor to make it.
“It’s a question for every woman, whether we try to keep our traditions and pass them on to our daughters, such as how to cook traditional food, or create our own lifestyle,” says Ms. Dorrie, a filmmaker who has been involved in women’s issues for more than 20 years.
She’s one of the few movie directors in German cinema whose films have satisfied both audiences and critics. Her stories deal with dilemmas caused by gender, but are told in ways that subtly mix fantasy with romance.
Not only is Ms. Dorrie a filmmaker, she’s also a novelist and cinema professor. She conducted “Cosi fan tutte,” an opera led by Daniel Barenboim at Staatsoper Berlin, and has written a series of books that made the bestseller’s list of the German news magazine Der Spiegel.
Ms. Dorrie said the “privilege” of being a mother has helped her be a better filmmaker and writer.
“It keeps me grounded, from becoming an arrogant artist who only thinks of becoming an artist,” she said cheerily. “Because when male directors go out drinking with the crew after shooting, I have to run home to cook and play Barbie dolls with my daughter. This keeps me very much grounded to real life. I have the advantage of knowing where I am, what other women feel like. I feel connected to them.”
Indeed, her films poignantly reflect the tensions and dilemmas of real men and women.
In her new film, “Fisherman and His Wife ― Why Women Never Get Enough,” a story based on an old German fairy tale, Ms. Dorrie deals with a romance between a fishmonger and a fashion designer, Ida, who wants everything in life, including love, a stable family, a charming husband and a flourishing career.
In “Nobody Loves Me,” perhaps Ms. Dorrie’s most known work in Korea, the director depicts a vibrant portrait of an urban unmarried woman in Germany who is obsessed with finding a man.
Her biggest success was with “Men,” which sold 6 million tickets in Germany, a film that playfully delved into the male psyche based on a story of a businessman who finds that his wife has been having an affair with a Bohemian artist.
Romance is a central subject of many of her films, an element that’s used to redefine the meanings of love in a contemporary society, where the system of marriage is no longer based on economics.
“It’s an interesting stage for relationships between men and women,” Ms. Dorrie said. “The social values of women are being reconsidered, because women are economic factors. Circumstances for relationships have changed.” We don’t have the same reasons for staying together, she said.

by Park Soo-mee
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