Ulrike Ottinger at the Wisconsin Film Festival
Director: Ulrike Ottinger, Germany, 2020, 131 minutes, German, French with English Subtitles
Paris in the 1960s—an artistic mecca if there ever was one. Then in her early twenties, aspiring artist Ulrike Ottinger hitchhiked from Germany (after her elaborately painted car broke down on the way) and immersed herself in the city’s vibrant scene of cafés, bookstores, art studios, cinematheques, and nightclubs. Now, after a lengthy career as a celebrated film director, Ottinger looks back on her formative years and the people that influenced her, introducing us to an incredible array of artists and intellectuals through a wealth of archival footage. Beyond vividly resurrecting a specific time and place, Paris Calligrammes serves as a powerful reminder of the immense cultural and social value of physical meeting places such as the shops, restaurants, venues, and theaters that we’ve been mostly shut out of for the past year. These are the spaces that make a community, and their impact continues to inspire artists like Ottinger fifty years later.