The Germans and Their Men

A film by Helke Sander

Germany | 1989 | 96 minutes | Color | 16mm/VHS | Subtitled | Order No. 99320


"If a woman doesn't have equal rights, is she equally responsible for the crimes of a nation?" Helke Sander's quasi-documentary turns a wry and revealing lens on German masculinity and national identity. This powerful critique offers popular sentiments and startling insights with biting wit and clarity, making provocative connections between feminism, fascism and the legacy of sexism in German history. Produced for ZDF (German television). "Still the best female helmer on the scene in Germany, Helke Sander takes her time between productions to pour as much personal philosophical reflection into her films as possible." -Variety


"Witty, critical, and sometimes outrageous."


"An incisive and wonderfully funny exposé."

Cynthia Walker Univ. of California San Diego

"A worthwhile film for those wanting a fix on Germany's ruling male elite. Recommended."

Library Journal


  • London International Film Festival
  • Montreal Women's Film Festival
  • AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival


Helke Sander

Born in Berlin, Sander attended school in Remscheid and drama school in Hamburg (1957/58). Sander married a Finnish author Markku Lahtela in 1959 and had a son, Silvio, before moving to Helsinki, where she directer directed and performed in Ernst Toller's play "Der deutsche Hinkemann" three or four times a week, as well as a production of Grass' "Noch zehn Minuten bis Buffalo." If that weren't enough she also taught classes on drama and improvisation. In 1964, she worked as a director for Finnish TV, but when she returned to Germany the following year, she couldn't find work. So, she began her studies at the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie in Berlin (Berlin film and Television Academy), becoming one of its first graduates. Active in the students' movement, Sander founded the "Aktionsrat zur Befreiung der Frau" in 1968 and spoke at the SDS (Socialist German Students)-conference in Frankfurt, where she stressed that women are only accepted when they adapt - not only in society as a whole, but in the students' movement too.
Her speech is often considered the beginning of the New German Women's Movement.
She co-founded the women's group "Brot und Rosen" in 1972 and the journal Frauen und Film in 1974, which became the first European feminist film journal. Sander was the journal's editor until 1981.
Her first feature-length movie Redupers (Die allseitig reduzierte Persönlichkeit - Redupers) appeared in 1977. Although most of Sander's films emphasize the role of women, The Subjective Factor (1980/81) deals with the beginning of the New Women's Movement. Love is the Beginning of all Terrors (Der Beginn aller Schrecken ist die Liebe) (1984) is a satire on sexual politics.
Now, Sander has produced many short films and documentaries and also works for German TV. Since 1981, she's been a professor at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg. She writes for the taz Berlin and for Frauen und Film, and lives in Hamburg and Berlin. (09/09)


Shopping Cart