Combat Girls

Combat Girls © Ascot Elite Filmverleih

Thu, 03/11/2021 -
Sat, 03/13/2021

digital Tiff Lightbox

Presented by the Goethe-Institut Toronto
Outrage, hatred, excess — exit? What draws or drives people to the radical fringes of expression and action, what can get them out?  In an era of global authoritarianism, with extremist movements attracting a motley crew of followers –male, female, political, religious, opportunist– what can be done to counteract the lure of the pied pipers and (re-)integrate former fanatics into civil society? 
GOETHE FILMS offers a recent feature and two documentaries, with filmmaker and expert introductions, and a further watch list, to shine a light on the dangers of violent intolerance and the dangers of turning a blind eye.
11-13 March 2021 6pm-6pm streaming window
"Combat Girls"
 (Germany, 2011, 103 min.), drama written and directed by David Wnendt, starring Alina Levshin, Jella Haase, Gerdy Zint, Lukas Steltner and others

Bonus Material: with a commentary by Elisa Hategan, a Canadian writer, speaker, and educator on far-right extemism. 
Marisa, a 20-year-old German girl, hates foreigners, Jews, cops, and everyone she think responsible for the decline of her country. She provokes, drinks, and fights, her next tattoo is a portrait of Adolf Hitler. The only place she feels at home is with the neo-Nazi gang she joined, where hate, violence, and raucous parties are the daily norm. When 14-year-old Svenja joins the group, Marisa becomes a role model of the perfect  "combat girl," embodying the group's ideology. But Marisa's convictions evolve when she happens to meet a young Afghan refugee. Confronted with him, she learns that the (literally) black and white principles of her gang are not the only way to approach the people around you. Will Marisa be able to escape the prison that is the group’s ideology and take Svenja with her?
“Wnendt’s Combat Girls caused a stir. A daring, unadorned film.” – Der Tagesspiegel
“Wnendt’s feature film debut hits a contemporary topic in an almost uncanny way.” – epd film
“From start to finish, it is the density of the film that does not let go of the viewer’s attention. Because the film does not fast forward us from one scene to the next but focuses on the multidimensionality and layers of the protagonists’ environments, it allows an in-depth view into a right-wing radical group. Like through a burning glass.” – German Film and Media Assessment
German Film Awards for Best Film in Bronze: Best Screenplay, Best Lead Actress (2012)
Best Lead Actress, First Steps Award (2011)
Best Actress Sao Paulo (2011)
Bavarian Film Prize Best Newcomer Director & Best Newcomer Actress (2012)

David Wnendt was born in 1977 in Germany and grew up as the son of a diplomat in Islamabad, Miami, Brussels, and the German town of Meckenheim. He made his first forays into the world of theatre and film production in a variety of jobs, such as lighting technician, editor and production assistant. After graduating in Business Administration and Journalism from Berlin's Free University and completing a one-year film course at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, he was accepted to the renowned University of Film & Television “Konrad Wolf” in Potsdam-Babelsberg in 2004. Wnendt‘s powerful graduation film Combat Girls, which he both wrote and directed, was met with great acclaim. His next successful films include Wetlands (Sundance 2014) and the Hitler satire Look Who's Back (2015). Wnendt is in pre-production for crime drama Sun and Concrete.

Elisa Hategan is a Toronto-based author, public speaker, journalist, filmmaker, the Executive Director of the Changemaker Project, a non-profit charitable organization, and a Regional Coordinator for Central Canada and the United States at Against Violent Extremism (AVE), a global network of former extremists and survivors of extremist violence working in partnership with ISDGlobal, a London, UK, NGO and think tank creating operational responses to violent extremism and radicalization. As a teenager, Elisa was the inspiration behind the 1998 CBC film White Lies, starring Sarah Polley as a fictionalized character based on Elisa's story. Her controversial story has since been published in the memoir “Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence's Greatest Cover-Up”.
Tailored to fit the moment, GOETHE FILMS resume at the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox with exclusive online access for Canadian viewers. All tickets on sale 4 days prior to screening. Once purchased, viewers will have a 48h-watch window to hit play. After hitting play, you have 24h to watch the film once. For further questions visit digital TIFF FAQs, contact TIFF customer support at, or the TIFF support chat at daily from 2- 8 pm (incl. weekends and holidays).

Related Events:
THE RENEGADES by Mariam Noori & Lisa Maria Hagen
WILD HEART by Charly Hübner & Sebastian Schultz

Part of the Goethe-Institut's focus on German film​