Prolific German filmmaker Helma Sanders-Brahms passed away in Berlin on Tuesday following a long illness. She was 73. The director, screenwriter and producer was born in 1940, and began her career as a model and TV presenter. In 1969, she met Italian giant Pier Paolo Pasolini on a movie set where he told her, “You are going to make films!” She stuck around the set and later said it helped her discover her love of the craft. She ultimately became a key representative of German post-war film, directing both narrative features and documentaries. Eight of her works screened at the Berlin Film Festival including 1980’s Deutschland, Bleiche Mutter (Germany, Pale Mother) which premiered in competition. Just this year, the now classic film, narrated by a German woman who tells the story of her parents before, during and after World War II, was screened in a digitally restored version as part of the Berlinale Classics section. Her other credits include 2008’s Geliebte Clara; 1997’s My Heart Is Mine Alone; 1975’s Under The Beach’s Cobbles; and 1976 TV drama Shirin’s Wedding. Sanders-Brahms was known for exploring political and social issues in her films including topics like feminism, immigrant workers and German history. “Helma Sanders-Brahms was a radical and committed filmmaker who had a lasting impact on German cinema,” said Berlin Film Fest director Dieter Kosslick. She was “a tremendous director.” Under former Festival Director Moritz de Hadeln, she was also a member of the advisory selection committee.
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