Female Misbehavior: The Films of Monika Treut and Elfi Mikesch

I Often Think of Hawaii © Deutsche Kinemathek/Elfi Mikesch © Deutsche Kinemathek/Elfi Mikesch

Extended! Now online through 08/04/20

The Goethe-Institut New York, Anthology Film Archives, and Salzgeber are thrilled to present a dual retrospective devoted to the films of Monika Treut and Elfi Mikesch – two pioneers of German LGBTQ cinema – showcasing the films they have made both together and separately.

Treut and Mikesch first collaborated in 1985, co-directing Seduction: The Cruel Woman (Verführung – Die grausame Frau), a pioneering work of German LGBTQ cinema made by women. Mikesch, who was born and raised in Austria but relocated to Germany in the mid-1960s, had previously directed several short films and features, as well as acting as cinematographer on films by her friend and colleague Rosa von Praunheim, and the Austrian artist and filmmaker Friederike Pezold. Seduction would mark the beginning of a long and fruitful professional partnership between Treut and Mikesch, with the two co-founding the company Hyena Films, while Mikesch would go on to shoot almost all of Treut’s films over the next 20 years.

For 35 years now, Treut has devoted herself to depicting lesbian and gay lives on screen, exploring the mysteries and ambiguities of gender, and transgressing repressive sexual mores and ideas. In addition to Seduction, she has made numerous fiercely independent and fearless feature films – both fictional and documentary – including Virgin Machine (Die Jungfrauenmaschine), Female Misbehavior, Gendernauts, and many others. In recent years, her field of interest has come to encompass the culture and people of Taiwan.

For her part, Mikesch – in addition to acting as cinematographer on dozens of films by Treut and von Praunheim, as well as the great Werner Schroeter and others – has continued to direct extraordinary short and feature films of her own, which are sadly underappreciated in the US. We are pleased to showcase a new restoration of her first feature film, I Often Think of Hawaii (Ich denke oft an Hawaii); her documentary portrait of Schroeter, Mondo Lux; and her most recent work, Fever (Fieber).