Ulrike Ottinger - Nomad from the Lake

Ulrike Ottinger - Nomad from the Lake
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Ulrike Ottinger - Nomad from the Lake

Artista a tutto tondo (apprezzata anche per le sue opere pittoriche e fotografiche) Ulrike Ottinger deve la sua fama internazionale principalmente ai suoi film e documentari, che l’hanno resa uno dei nomi di punta dell’avanguardia cinematografica tedesca e mondiale. Dalla “trilogia di Berlino” (Ticket of No Return, 1979, Freak Orlando, 1981, e Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press, 1984) al controverso Madame X (1978), fino ai pi๠recenti Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia (1989) e Under Snow (2011), i suoi film sono caratterizzati da uno stile surrealista e ridondante, costumi esotici, scene grottesche, fantasmagorie opulente e uno humour tipicamente camp. I soggetti delle opere, siano essi storici o immaginari, sono sempre guardati da una prospettiva femminile che si apre costantemente su altri mondi. Il film di Brigitte Kramer ci regala un prezioso ritratto dell’artista, recentemente insignita del Teddy Award alla carriera all’ultimo festival di Berlino: dalle esperienze berlinesi negli anni Settanta e Ottanta, all’incontro con le sue attrici-muse (tra cui Magdalena Montezuma), al periodo parigino, fino ai documentari girati in Asia e alle mostre pi๠recenti allestite in giro per il mondo. (Gender Bender)

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Ulrike Ottinger is an exceptional filmmaker and artist. Her cinematic universe has influenced entire generations. As a young woman, she brought the international art world to the sleepy town of Konstanz. It all began on the shores of Lake Constance where Ulrike Ottinger was born and where she still often spends time. Filmmaker Brigitte Kramer chose to begin her film at Lake Constance since she too shares Ottinger’s birthplace and a great love of these waters. This is also where the filmmaker’s own artistic development began, not least as a result of her encounter with Ottinger and her work. Other fellow travellers and friends appearing in this film include art historian Katharina Sykora, collector and curator Ingvild Goetz, film historian Ulrich Gregor, philosopher Bernd Scherer and actor Irm Hermann. Using this common ground as a starting point for an exploration of Ottinger’s substantial oeuvre, this documentary provides a keen insight into the artist’s life and work. In 2011, Ottinger’s creative output was celebrated in two major solo exhibitions and retrospectives of her films; she also received the Hannah Höch Award. In addition, this year’s Berlinale will honour Ulrike Ottinger with the Special Teddy – Queer Film Award. (Berlinale 2012)

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Fortunately there’s enough material within Ulrike Ottinger’s continuing body of work for 10 docus, since Brigitte Kramer’s “Ulrike Ottinger — Nomad from the Lake” only skims the surface of the cult helmer’s experiences and output. More a personal response to Ottinger’s career and travels than a deep exploration of her films and art, Kramer’s docu includes nice clips but barely touches on Ottinger’s significant nonfiction oeuvre, and feels too in thrall to its subject for any real analysis. Fests and German TV will be the only likely callers.
Ottinger herself is a welcoming figure, happy to share reminiscences about her childhood on Lake Constance (not coincidentally Kramer’s birthplace, too); her founding of an early hip gallery/cafe there; painting in Paris; and the avant-garde films she began making in 1972. Ottinger’s delirious blend of feminism, camp and spectacle needs to be understood in conjunction with other helmers of the time like Fassbinder and Herbert Achternbusch, but neither Kramer nor her interviewees, with the exception of art collector Ingvild Goetz, intelligently approach issues of context and influence. Crucial early collaborator Tabea Blumenschein is practically ignored; Ottinger’s troubled Countess Bathory project gets no mention. (Jay Weissberg, Variety)

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