Barbara Albert Biography
Barbara Albert was born on 22 September 1970 –in Vienna, she is an Austrian writer, film-producer and film-director. She studied filmmaking at the Wiener Filmakademie. Her first film to become known to a larger audience was Nordrand, which describes the reality of life of Yugoslavian children in Vienna. She heads the production company Coop 99 with Jessica Hausner and Antonin Svoboda, among others.
Her short films have been introduced at festivals around the world. Her first feature film “Nordrand,” or “Northern Skirts,” premiered at Venice International Film Festival in 1999 and earned her international acclaim. In the same year Albert founded the production company coop99, together with Martin Gschlacht, Jessica Hausner, and Antonin Svoboda.
In 2016 she co-founded Berlin-based production company CALA Film, together with the producers of “Mademoiselle Paradis,” Martina Haubrich and Michael Kitzberger.
Barbara Albert Interview
W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.
BA: “Mademoiselle Paradis” is the coming-of-age story of a 18-year-old blind pianist, composer, and contemporary of Mozart. When she gets back her eyesight due to treatments by the ambitious doctor Franz Anton Mesmer, she, at the same time, loses her virtuosity.
How does one deal with the huge family and societal pressure in this situation? And how does a woman have to be, look like, and act to be accepted as an adequate human being and artist?
W&H: What drew you to this story?
BA: I read the novel “Mesmerized” by Alissa Walser and was immediately thrilled by the character of young, blind Maria Paradis. At the same time, the novel gives so many visual opportunities of telling this story. Both the story and the film deal with the act of seeing and being seen.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
BA: About their own opportunities and abilities, about who they see and who they don’t see — and about how and by whom history is written.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
BA: Finding the right pictures for a film that deals with pictures and sight. The movie’s cinematographer, Christine A. Maier, and I asked ourselves this question many times — if and when we should give Resi a point of view, even though she is blind.
A huge challenge for Maria-Victoria Dragus, the main actress, was the interpretation of a blind woman in the 18th century, and especially this ambivalent historic character.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
BA: The film was — also thanks to the power of endurance of my producers Michael Kitzberger and Martina Haubrich — financed by several Austrian and German public film funds and TV stations, as well as by the European Cinema Support Fund (EURIMAGES).
W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at the Toronto International Film Festival?
BA: I am very happy and pleased that the film will be seen by an international audience and industry. It’s important to me that this universal story is seen not only in the country of its origin, but by a broader audience.
W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?
BA: To be honest, I don’t listen very much when I receive advice. So the best advice I likely don’t remember, and the worst I probably also ignore.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
BA: I don’t believe so much in advice. Every one of us has to find her way of working and living by herself. Nevertheless, I would give the advice to find or create a lobby, so that you don’t have to be alone all the time. This helps! And continue your work with partners you had good experiences with, although I did not always do this myself.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
BA: Still “An Angel at My Table” by Jane Campion for its visual strength, pureness, emotional narration, and its narrative and visual details. For the great performance of the actresses, and for how Jane Campion shows the female body.
W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.
BA: When I started with filmmaking in the early ’90s it was very common to talk about films made by “girls”— only once I was invited to panels/discussions on “girls make films” or “girl power.” At least now we talk about films by women and not “girls.”
In the meantime, there are activist groups like FC Gloria and Pro Quote Regie and great platforms for female directors, as well as cinematographers, editors, production and costume designers, etc. This is something new and came up only in the last decade, which does make me optimistic. It is, however, a very slow process and just reflects the backlash of our history and times.
Barbara Albert Movies
- 2006 Fallen
- 2001 Zur Lage
- 998 Somewhere else
- 1998 Slidin‘ – alles bunt und wunderbar
- 1998 Sonnenflecken
- 1993 Die Frucht deines Leibes
- 1993 Nachtschwalben
2003 Böse Zellen
Free Radicals (German: Böse Zellen) is an Austrian film.
Following the death of Manu (Resetarits) in a car accident, the film relates the interwoven stories of several people who become indirectly connected by the events and aftermath of the crash.
Directed by: Barbara Albert
Written by: Barbara Albert
Starring: Kathrin Resetarits
Distributed by: Polyfilm Verleih GmbH
Release date: 2003
Running time: 120 minutes
2001 Lovely Rita
Lovely Rita is a 2001 Austrian drama film directed by Jessica Hausner. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.
Directed by: Jessica Hausner
Produced by: Barbara Albert
Written by: Jessica Hausner
Starring: Barbara Osika
Cinematography: Martin Gschlacht
Edited by: Karin Hartusch
Release date: 2 November 2001
Running time: 79 minutes
Northern Skirts (German: Nordrand) is a 1999 German-language film directed by Barbara Albert. It was an international co-production between Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. It was Austria’s official Best Foreign Language Film submission at the 72nd Academy Awards, but did not manage to receive a nomination.
The film addresses the marginalisation of the Vienna’s migrant and ethnic minority population against the background of rising xenophobia encouraged by Joerg Haider and the so-called Freedom Party.
Directed by: Barbara Albert
Written by: Barbara Albert
Starring: Nina Proll
Release date: 2 September 1999
Running time: 103 minutes
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Barbara Albert News
Sydney Film Festival picks 10 female directors to watch in 2018
It has been three years since Sydney Film Festival in co-operation with European Film Promotion (EFP) first dedicated part of its programme to emerging female directors from Europe, and much has changed in that short time. Courtesy of #MeToo, the filmmaking gender gap has been further thrust into the spotlight in a significant and much-needed manner — an issue the festival’s showcase was specifically designed to address.
A hit across its first two outings, Europe! Voices of Women in Film returns to offer a “platform for talented European women filmmakers to share their work and perspectives”, says festival director Nashen Moodley. Presented in conjunction with Screen International and EFP from June 6-17, 10 directors will screen their latest films, with eight filmmakers attending the festival to discuss the challenges facing women in the film industry, the journey towards inclusivity and parity, and the current state of gender diversity.
Emily Atef - 3 Days In Quiberon
Emily Atef had originally intended to become an actor, but “always enjoyed telling stories”, she explains. After studying in Paris, she “felt the urge to tell my own stories inspired by what I saw around me, instead of acting in other people’s.”
Following a stint in theatre in London, Atef attended the German Film and Television Academy. She won a screenwriting award at Munich Film Festival for her 2005 debut Molly’s Way, while 2008’s The Stranger In Me premiered in Critics’ Week at Cannes. After 2012’s Kill Me, Atef made two TV films before exploring the latter days of actress Romy Schneider’s life in Berlinale Competition entry 3 Days In Quiberon. The film won seven prizes at the German Film Awards including outstanding feature film and best direction.
Isabella Eklöf - Holiday
While Holiday marks Isabella Eklöf’s feature debut, she worked as a location assistant on Let The Right One In and co-wrote the screenplay for this year’s Cannes Un Certain Regard prize-winner Border. Her CV includes 11 short films, all made during her studies. She completed a two-year video course in Skurup, a degree from the University of Gothenburg’s school of film directing and an art degree from the National Film School of Denmark.
During the latter period of education, Eklöf made the 30-minute short Notes From Underground, which won Denmark’s Bisballeprisen art prize. It then took five years to make Holiday, which debuted in Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition in January. Those five years were spent “perfecting the script, meticulously planning the visuals, casting and casting again”, says Eklöf.
Nanouk Leopold - Cobain
Nanouk Leopold came to filmmaking via art school, where she enjoyed working across various forms. “It hit me that film is a very natural combination of different things, like light, space, rhythm, language, structure and choreography,” she says. Attending Rotterdam’s Willem de Kooning Academy, then the Netherlands Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam, she won a Netherlands Film Festival award for her graduation short Weekend, which led to TV movie Max Lupa followed by her first feature, Iles Flottantes, in 2001.
All six of Leopold’s features have premiered at major festivals. Iles Flottantes screened at Rotterdam, while 2005’s Guernsey debuted in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. Her four subsequent features have all premiered in Berlin: Wolfsbergen and Brownian Movement in Forum in 2007 and 2011 respectively, It’s All So Quiet in 2013’s Panorama and Cobain in Generation 14plus this February.
Fanni Metelius - The Heart
Writing, directing, editing and starring in The Heart, the multifaceted Fanni Metelius explains she is driven by her “curiosity for new projects”. Her debut feature offers an intimate account of modern romance, and explores the attitudes of young Swedes today. It premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam in January.
Metelius has also worked as an assistant director on Lukas Moodysson’s We Are The Best! and acted in Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure, earning a Guldbagge Award nomination for best supporting actress. As well as graduating from the University of Gothenburg’s school of film directing, Metelius has made four short films, with Unruly (Banga Inte) screening in the Generation section of 2012’s Berlinale.
Katharina Mückstein - L’Animale
“I wanted to make a film that is poetic and well-crafted, intimate and political at the same time,” says Katharina Mückstein about L’Animale. Studying philosophy and gender studies before her directing degree at the Film Academy Vienna, she drew on these fields for her second fiction feature, which premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama in February.
Mückstein was inspired to become a filmmaker by the work of Claire Denis, as well as the paths carved by fellow Austrian talents
Barbara Albert and Jessica Hausner. Straight out of film school, she co-founded production company La Banda Film with two friends, with an aim to “be as autonomous as possible when it came to filmmaking”. As well as writing, directing and producing her 2013 debut Talea, she has produced documentaries Holz Erde Fleisch and Tiere Und Andere Menschen.
Sinead O’Shea - A Mother Brings Her Son To Be Shot
Before making her feature documentary debut with A Mother Brings Her Son To Be Shot, Sinead O’Shea won an Irish Media Justice Award and an Irish Film and Television Award. She has worked as a journalist for RTE, the BBC, The Irish Times, The Guardian, The New York Times, Channel 4 and Al Jazeera, and has 60-minute documentary The McCanns Versus The Media on her CV.
O’Shea studied film production at Dublin Institute of Technology, specialising in cinematography, but “the film industry was very challenging when I began in Ireland”, she recalls. “It was a big advantage to be able to shoot and edit myself, though,” which helped her find work in current affairs. She is now making a short drama called Humblebrag, and developing her first fiction feature, Female Terrorist.
Virpi Suutari - Entrepreneur
“My films are so-called ‘creative documentaries’, where there is a lot of freedom to express oneself,” Virpi Suutari explains. “This freedom to interpret reality appealed to me.” It is why the Finnish director pursued filmmaking after working as a journalist and then studying photography.
It is also what she has focused on across her career for more than 20 years. Working across television and film, as well as short and feature-length efforts, Suutari first started directing with Susanna Helke, but has worked alone for more than 10 years.
Her documentaries have covered topics as varied as social outcasts (The Idle Ones), garden-proud couples (Garden Lovers) and pheasant hunting (Elegance). She describes Entrepreneur as “a humanistic nature documentary about a couple of Finnish entrepreneurs in the middle of their everyday survival”.
Jagoda Szelc - Tower. A Bright Day
Jagoda Szelc does not consider herself to be a filmmaker. “There are specific stories I would like to tell, and if I start thinking only how to get on set and work as a director, I will quit,” she says. Szelc knows the kind of narratives she would like to explore, and also the impact she wants her films to make. “Watching a film is a form of ritual, because you are different after the screening than you were before [you watched it].”
Studying at the National Film School in Lodz, Poland, Szelc made six short films between 2011 and 2015. Such A Landscape received the Golden Tadpole award at Camerimage film festival in 2013. Her feature debut, Tower. A Bright Day, premiered at the Polish Feature Film Festival in Gdynia last year before going on to screen in the Berlinale’s Forum section this February.
Ana Urushadze - Scary Mother
Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother won the best first feature award at Locarno last summer, and recognition from festivals around the world. The film, which mixes reality and fiction, follows a 50-year-old housewife who must choose between her family and her passion. It was Georgia’s entry to the best foreign-language film category for this year’s Oscars.
Urushadze is the daughter of filmmaker Zaza Urushadze, the director of 2013’s Oscar-nominated Tangerines. “My inspiration came at a young age, watching my father being a filmmaker and wanting to imitate him,” she says. Urushadze studied at Georgia’s Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Film Georgia State University, and her shorts credits include Ideas and One Man Loved Me.
Blerta Zeqiri - The Marriage
Growing up in a small Kosovo town, Blerta Zeqiri’s only form of excitement was to be found in books. “It felt like I was experiencing all those moments and I was having all those feelings the characters in my books were having,” she explains. Her love of reading inspired a love of storytelling, which first manifested itself in a high-school hip-hop band.
After turning her attention to filmmaking, Zeqiri worked in video production and made her short films largely after hours — including 2012’s The Return, which won the short film jury prize at Sundance. The award “was definitely a huge encouragement for me to take the big step towards the feature film”, she notes. The Marriage has also received acclaim, earning a special jury prize in the first feature competition at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in December 2017.