Retrospektive Helga Reidemeister

Helga Reidemeister in Afghanistan © Lars Barthel


In her films Helga Reidemeister contrasts the inflation of what is factual with the reality of experience: her precise and unerring view of the apparently insignificant reveals the crux of human relationships. The 33rd DOK.fest Munich’s retrospective presents a cross-section through four decades of her filmic achievements.

Helga Reidemeister came to documentary film as an artistic medium late, after she had studied painting. Yet her first films already bore her obvious signature: as a filmmaker she is an ally to her heroes and heroines and, at the same time, a chronicler of events. Behind this lies a deep-rooted awareness that the private is also always political and no story is too small to draw broader conclusions from.

VON WEGEN SCHICKSAL, her graduation film that won her the Deutschen Filmpreis at her first attempt, follows its protagonist as she leaves her husband and fights to take control of her life – against the resistance of her own children. Her next project also takes a look behind closed doors: MIT STARREM BLICK AUFS GELD (Germany 1983) is Helga Reidermeister’s unsparing examination of her sister who, as a photo model, has struck out on a completely different path in life.

From the beginning of the 1990s global social contexts increasingly move into her field of vision: after 47 years of occupation, RODINA HEISST HEIMAT (Germany 1992) documents the withdrawal of soviet troops from GDR and the beginning of a time of uncertainty. A few years later, GOTTESZELL – EIN FRAUENGEFÄNGNIS (Germany 2001) goes beyond speculative fantasies to detail the extreme yet gruellingly monotonous daily life of people in prison.

The nineties ultimately lead Helga Reidemeister to the Hindu Kush. The political road movie TEXAS KABUL (Germany 2004) – created amid an internal and external state of emergency after 9/11 – attests to the principle of hope in times of conflict. From an unusal and poignant perspective MEIN HERZ SIEHT DIE WELT SCHWARZ (Germany 2009) tells about every day life in a war-torn land.

For documentary films like Helga Reidemeister’s, production conditions are less favourable today than they have ever been. Nonetheless, or precisely for this reason, we can always find in each of her films to date something new to discover and this makes Helga Reidemeister one of the most important contemporary filmmakers.

Helga Reidemeister will not be able to introduce her retrospective in Munich in person, unfortunately. In film discussions her close companions will give insights into the director’s work.


The Helga Reidemeister retrospective will present the following films:

VON WEGEN SCHICKSAL (Germany 1979, 121 min.)
MIT STARREM BLICK AUFS GELD (Germany 1983, 106 min.)
RODINA HEISST HEIMAT (Germany 1992, 110 min.)
TEXAS KABUL (Germany 2004, 94 min.)
MEIN HERZ SIEHT DIE WELT SCHWARZ (Germany 2009, 87 min.)


Helga Reidemeister – the unflappable.
An obituary.

After a long illness, Helga Reidemeister, one of the most renowned documentary film directors of her generation, passed away in Berlin at the end of November 2021 at the age of 81. With an astute eye and an always feminist perspective, she dealt with precarious livelihoods and regions. An obituary by the Haus des Dokumentarfilms.