Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival

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Maria Speth

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Presented by the director.

Born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1967, Maria Speth is a widely acclaimed filmmaker, screenwriter and producer. Her name is frequently associated with a group of young German directors known as the Berlin School - Berliner Schule (although many of its members, like Speth herself, come from different cinema schools based in other cities). Emerging in the 90s and growing in importance during the following decade, this “movement” gave German cinema a new breath, with its works becoming ever more present at the main film festivals.

Speth worked in multiple feature films and television shows as an assistant editor and director until 1995. At the University of Film and Television "Konrad Wolf" in Potsdam-Babelsberg, she studied Directing and made her first short film, Barfuss (which won the 3sat Prize at Oberhausen 1999), and her graduate thesis and multiple award-winning debut feature In den Tag hinein (2001). Receiving the VPRO Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where it had its world premiere, In den Tag hinein tells the story of Lynn, a young woman who lives in Berlin with her brother without making plans or setting goals, a life open to what each day will bring.

Madonas (2007), her next film, gives us a glimpse into the world of Rita. After being neglected as a child, Rita gives birth to six children and makes her mother raise them as if they were her own offspring. An impressive reflection on the role of maternity, the social expectations that surround it and the punishment for those who fail to meet them, Madonas premiered in the prestigious Forum section of the Berlin Film Festival.

In 2009, Maria Speth founded the Madonnen Film production company and made 9 Leben (2011), her first documentary. The film, winner of the Metropolis German Directors prize, addresses the issue of homelessness among German youth. Stories of outcasts are filmed in a neutral studio environment, in stark black and white, to avoid clichés and highlight the subjects’ singular personalities and the many different causes of homelessness.

She returned to the Forum section of the Berlin Film Festival with Töchter (2014). Keeping the camera always close to characters’ faces, Töchter narrates the odyssey of a mother, Agnes, who arrives in Berlin to identify a corpse – that could have been her missing daughter but isn’t. Agnes decides to stay in town and there she meets Ines, a young woman whose intrusive questions make Agnes rethink the relation she had with her daughter.

A sensible and thorough look at an inspiring, albeit unconventional teacher, Herr Bachmann und seine Klasse is Maria Speth’s most recent film, for which she received the Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival.
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