RIP Helma Sanders-Brahms

German director Helma Sanders-Brahms has passed away from cancer at the age of 73. While I have never seen any of her films, I have long been aware of her films’ tendencies to defy convention and push boundaries. Her works include Under the Pavement Lies the Strand (1975), a story about actors which won German Film Awards for its two stars, Grischa Huber and Heinrich Giskes; Germany, Pale Mother (1980), probably her best-remembered film, a World War II-era drama nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival; No Mercy, No Future (1981), a fictionalized portrait of a schizophrenic woman which is notable for its explicit sex and graphic, bloody violence; The Future of Emily (1985), a drama starring Brigitte Fossey and Hildegard Knef; and Beloved Clara (2008), a biopic about the composers Clara and Robert Schumann. Sanders-Brahms tackled many difficult subjects in her films and she will be remembered for her risk-taking, a commonality amongst the other adventurous European female filmmakers of the 1970s and 80s, such as Tatyana Lioznova, Lina Wertmüller, Agnès Varda (whose 86th birthday is today), Vera Chytilová, Márta Mészáros, Liliana Cavani, Kira Muratova, Larisa Shepitko, Margarethe von Trotta and Chantal Akerman. All of these women impacted the film world with their distinct narrative voices and styles. I’m sure that Sanders-Brahms’ contributions to world cinema and the cinema of female directors will not be forgotten.

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