Legendary German filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger will be in New York City March 14-16, 2020 for a retrospective at The Metrograph Cinema. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear Ottinger speak in person and watch her films THE KOREAN WEDDING CHEST, FREAK ORLANDO, TICKET OF NO RETURN, THE IMAGE OF DORIAN GRAY IN THE YELLOW PRESS, MADAME X: AN ABSOLUTE RULER, and JOHANNA D’ARC OF MONGOLIA. View the screening schedule >>>
Ottinger, who is well-known for her filmmaking as well as her photography and considered one of the most influential figures in New German Cinema, was honored with the prestigious Berlinale Camera Award at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival for her artistic contributions to filmmaking. The presentation of the award took place on February 22, 2020 and was followed by the premiere of her documentary Paris Calligrammes. Learn more.
View trailers/clips from her films
Madame X: An Absolute Ruler
Ticket of No Return
Johanna D'Arc of Mongolia
The Korean Wedding Chest
Madame X: An Absolute RulerGermany | 1977 | 141 minutes | Color | 16mm/DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 99581
"Ulrike Ottinger has a larger body of work than almost any other lesbian filmmaker, and her rarely seen first feature contains most of the elements that make her work so unique and ahead of its time. In this extravagantly aestheticized, postmodern pirate film she appropriates the male genre for feminist allegory. Madame X — the cruel, uncrowned ruler of the China seas — promises "gold, love, and adventure" to all women who'll leave their humdrum lives behind. Gathered aboard her ship, Orlando, are a range of types: a frumpy housewife, a glamorous diva, a psychologist, a very German outdoorswoman, a bush pilot, an artist (played by Yvonne Rainer), and a "native" beauty. Their utopia devolves into betrayal and self-destruction—leading to eventual transformation—as the power games of the outside world are ritualized among the women. Tabea Blumenschein, who designed the film's outrageous costumes, appears in a dual role as the pirate queen and the ship's lovely, leather clad figurehead. Refusing conventional storytelling and realism for a rich, non-synchronous soundtrack, the film invites its audience along for an unprecedented journey that celebrates the marginal." — Patricia White, Swarthmore College
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Ticket of No Return1979 | 108 minutes | Color | 35mm/DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 674
A portrait of two unusual but also extremely different women. One rich, eccentric, hiding her feelings behind a rigid mask, consciously drinks herself to death. The other is a known drinker in town. In the course of the story they try to get to know each other, but they cannot come together. The background is Berlin, thrown open to a grotesque kind of sightseeing (drinkers’ geography) and complemented by authentic contributions from people who live here or are visiting, rock singers, writers, artist, taxi drivers. With Tabea Blumenschein, Magdalena Montezuma, Nina Hagen and Eddie Constantine.
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Johanna D'Arc of MongoliaGermany | 1989 | 165 minutes | Color | 35mm/DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 99068
Ulrike Ottinger's epic adventure traces a fantastic encounter between two different worlds. Seven western women travelers meet aboard the sumptuous, meticulously reconstructed Trans-Siberian Express, a rolling museum of European culture. Lady Windemere, an elegant ethnographer played by the incomparable Delphine Seyrig in her last screen role, regales a young companion with Mongol myths and lore while other passengers-a prim tourist (Irm Hermann), a brash Broadway chanteuse and an all-girl klezmer trio-revel in campy dining car cabaret. Suddenly ambushed by a band of Mongol horsewomen, the company is abducted to the plains of Inner Mongolia and embark on a fantastic camel ride across the magnificent countryside. Breathtaking vistas, the lavish costumes of Princess Ulun Iga and her retinue, and the rituals of Mongol life are stunningly rendered by Ottinger's cinematography. Dubbed a female Lawrence of Arabia and just as sweepingly romantic, JOHANNA D'ARC OF MONGOLIA is a grandly entertaining, unforgettable journey.
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The Korean Wedding ChestGermany/South Korea | 2008 | 82 minutes | Color | DVD | Korean | Subtitled | Order No. 131107
Ulrike Ottinger’s provocative mélange of ethnography, stunning tableaux and baroque vignettes was inspired by what she calls the “well-stocked miracle” of Korean wedding chests, assembled according to time-honored customs. This exploration of love and marriage in South Korea looks closely at ancient and present-day rituals, revealing what is old in the new and new in the old. Her inquiry leads us from shamans, temples and priests, to the enchanted maze of 21st-century Seoul, where vendors of medicinal herbs co-exist with high-tech beauty salons for wedding couples and secular marriage palaces. Using film much like a canvas, Ottinger creates a modern fairytale flush with mythological heroes, traditional rites, ancestral symbolism, dreams of eternal love, and a whole lot of Western kitsch. One of her most acclaimed documentaries, it captures the amazing phenomenon of new mega-cities and their contradictory societies caught in a balancing act.
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Under SnowGermany/Japan | 2011 | 103 minutes | Color | DVD | Order No. 131108
In the Echigo region of northwestern Japan, where heavy snow blankets entire landscapes and villages for more than half the year, a distinctive way of life has evolved. Time follows a different, slower rhythm, and everyday routines, along with religious rituals, wedding traditions, festivals, foods, songs, and games, are adapted to Echigo’s austere living conditions and natural beauty. Ulrike Ottinger’s latest film leads us into this mythical country, turning her lens on daily and communal life under the snowy mountains. Narrated in English by American literary and media theorist Lawrence A. Rickels, this stunning documentary sequences merge with the tale of students Takeo and Marko, played by Kabuki performers. Their journey through the past and repeated encounters with the present find them wondrously transformed with help from a beautiful vixen fox. Under Snow is clear evidence that Ottinger, whose career spans more than four decades, remains one of world cinema’s most original artists.
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