Elfi Mikesch

Scen., F., Scgf.: Elfi Mikesch. M.: Elfi Mikesch, Elfi Tillack. Int.: Carmen Rossol, Ruth Rossol, Tito Rossol. Prod.: Oh Muvie Produktion, Laurens Straub, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, ZDF. DCP. D.: 85’. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The film portrays a single mother who works as a cleaning lady and lives with her two children in Berlin. Her husband, an American soldier from Puerto Rico, has left the family after three years.“He left behind postcards and a record of Hawaiian music.” Sixteen-year-old daughter Carmen is at the centre of the film, but the mother, who works to provide for the family, is also given a lot of space. During the filming process, a series of jointly developed staged scenes were created, which are juxtaposed with the documentary scenes. The documentary parts of the film first introduce the urban environment where the family lives. The gesture is one of recording, letting the desolation of the places speak for themselves. Repetitions emphasize the uniformity of the daily routines shown. Again and again, we see the mother leaving the house at five in the morning, going to work, cleaning office corridors. The hallway seems endless as she slides back on her knees, cleaning, piece by piece; the movement with which she wrings out the cleaning cloth is repeated over and over again. Images of cleaning the family’s own apartment follow seamlessly, in which only the colours of the bucket and the rubber gloves differ. The daughter does participate in the housework; but a different future is planned for her; she does schoolwork and attends high school. Despite the narrowness of the three-room apartment and the oppressive, tiring daily life of the protagonists, they developed self-dramatisations for the film, in which, with the help of original clothes and props, they conjure up moments of baroque Spanish splendour as well as Chinese-inspired exoticism. In these tableaus, naivety and ironic refraction combine with the courage to portray personal longings and daydreams.

Heike Klippel, Ein in Maßen komischer Beitrag zur der Frage, warum aus Frauen selten etwas wird, in Selbstbestimmt. Perspektiven von Filmemacherinnen, edited by Karin Herbst-Messlinger and Rainer Rother, Bertz + Fischer, Berlin 2019

Copy From

Restored in 2018 by Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin and Deutsche Kinemathek at ARRI Media laboratory from the original 16mm reversal camera