Film Screening Helke Misselwitz: After Winter Comes Spring & Nude Portraits – Gundula Schulze

Nude Portrait © DEFA-Stiftung

Sat, 09.11.2019

4:45 PM

Goethe-Institut London

Helke Misselwitz's short Nude Photography - Gundula Schulze (1983), a film about the photographer and about the act of portraying women, is followed by her award winning documentary After Winter Comes Spring (1988) - a series of encounters with women from different backgrounds talking freely about their lives and revealing a society that wants change.

With an introduction by Martin Brady.

We are pleased to present this event in partnership with Open City Documentary Festival.

This event is part of a double-bill.

Nude Photography – Gundula Schulze

In this short film Misselwitz provides a stage for the photographer Gundula Schulze to critique the male gaze in the nude photography of women, to explain her idea of nude photography as portraiture and to illustrate this by showing her own pictures. It is Misselwitz's portrait of Schulze, of her seriousness and unpretentious passion for finding different kinds of images. These sequences of her talking are repeatedly interrupted by Misselwitz’s own black and white footage of women working as cashiers in a supermarket – yet another form of portraiture that relies on observation and alternative ideas of beauty.

Nude Portraits – Gundula Schulze (Aktfotografie, z.B. Gundula Schulze)
GDR 1983, colour, DCP, 11 mins., With English subtitles.
Directed by Helke Misselwitz

After Winter Comes Spring

At the age of 40 Helke Misselwitz returns to the town of her birth, Zwickau in Saxony, in the south of the GDR, making it the starting point of a train journey that takes her as far as the Baltic Sea in the North of the country. During this trip she encounters women from all walks of life and generations and ask them about their lives and dreams - on the train, at work, or at home. Among the women she interviews are Hillu, who has a job in advertising in Berlin, Christine, who works in a briquette factory in Thuringia and brings up her mentally disabled daughter on her own, or the 19-year-old friends Anja and Kerstin, recurrent run-aways. Misselwitz observes them and carefully probes them with questions, often very personal ones, her presence, keen interest and sympathy always palpable.Each encounter takes a different form, finds its specific location, and varies in its relation between looking and listening, thus reflecting the diversity of the women interviewed. Private photographs are held into the frame here and there, evoking a social context, the past or a possibility (perhaps lost). The motif of the train journey is always present, shots of stations, tracks, and bridges between the interviews providing a space to reflect. Sounds and voices travel across from one scene to the next, contributing to the films intricate rhythm. At the end we find ourselves on a ship looking at a hazy horizon.

The film was enthusiastically received when it premiered at the Leipzig Documentary and Short Film Festival in 1988, where it was also awarded the Silver Dove. The openness with which the women in the film talk about their personal relationships and their experiences of inequality was something new for GDR audiences. The officials, especially in television, tried to suppress the film because of its critical undertrone, but, reflecting a changing mood in the country that was to lead to the Monday demonstrations and other demands for more democracy, it still became a great success.

After Winter Comes Spring (Alternative English title: Winter Farewell; German Title: Winter adé)
GDR, 1988,  b&w, DCP, 112 min. With English subtitles.
Directed by Helke Misselwitz, Script: Gudrun (Steinbrück) Plenert, Helke Misselwitz, Dramaturg: Bernd Burkhardt, Editor: Gudrun (Steinbrück) Plenert, Director of Photography: Thomas Plenert, Music: Mario Peters, Producer: Herbert Kruschke, Peter Mansee.


Martin Brady is Emeritus Reader in German and Film Studies at King’s College London. He has published on European film, music, literature, disability, architecture, and the visual arts. He translated Victor Klemperer’s LTI (The Language of the Third Reich) and works as a freelance interpreter and visual artist.

When booking this event, you will receive a promotional code which entitles you to a 50% discount on tickets for the event Jürgen Böttcher: Martha & Helke Misselwitz: Who is Afraid of the Bogey Man? taking place the same day at 2pm. The code will be in your confirmation email and must be entered when selecting your tickets to receive the discount.

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