Ulrike Ottinger

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Ulrike Ottinger
Born (1942-06-06) 6 June 1942 (age 76)
OccupationFilm director
Years active1973 - present

Ulrike Ottinger (born 6 June 1942) is a German filmmaker and photographer.[1]


From 1959 she was a visiting student at the Academy of Arts in Munich and worked as a painter. Her mother, Maria Weinberg, was a journalist and her father, Ulrich Ottinger, was a painter.

From 1962 to 1968, she worked as a freelance artist in Paris and studied etching with Johnny Friedlaender among other studies. They participated in several exhibitions.

Film career[edit]

The films of Ottinger have been said to "reject or parody the conventions of art cinema and search for new ways to construct visual pleasure, creating various spectator positions usually neglected or marginalized by cinematic address".[2] Her films include strong elements of stylization and fantasy, as well as ethnographic explorations.[3]

In 1966 she wrote her first screenplay, entitled Die Mongolische Doppelschublade.

Ottinger returned to West Germany in 1969 and, in cooperation with the Film Seminar at the University of Konstanz, founded the film club "Visuell", which she directed until 1972. She also headed a gallery and the associated "galeriepress”, where they edited works by contemporary artists.

During this time she met Tabea Blumenschein and Magdalena Montezuma [de], both of whom have been cast as lead actresses in her films since 1972. Ottinger developed her own bizarre surrealist film-style, which among other things, was marked by widespread abandonment of a linear plot and instead linger long in individual scenes, which in turn make überstarke and extravagant costumes of the imagination mostly female cast artfully to own collages were designed.

She directed and did stage design for Elfriede Jelinek's Clara S. at the Württembergisches Staatstheater in Stuttgart in 1983, and did the same for Jelinek's Begierde und Fahrerlaubnis in Graz in 1986.[4] In 1989, her film Joan of Arc of Mongolia, with Delphine Seyrig who acted in many of her films, was entered into the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.[5]

In 2003, Ottinger was selected for a solo exhibition at the Renaissance Society. Titled South East Passage, the work "is in three chapters - a travelogue of the artist's journey from southeast Poland to the Bulgarian shores of the Black Sea and a portrait of two coastal cities, Odessa and Istanbul". South East Passage was the first of a two-part series of exhibits exploring Eastern European video work.[6]

On the occasion of the 2009 New York premiere of The Korean Wedding Chest, with Ottinger to be in attendance, The New York Times characterized the director as, "[d]uring the 1980s heyday of the New German Cinema, having constituted a one-woman avant-garde opposition to the sulky male melodramas of Wenders, Fassbinder and Herzog, her films being long, discursive and wildly inventive."[7]

Ottinger’s films, with their preference for the Far Eastern formal language is visible, turned in the following decades, some unconventional documentaries about life in various Asian regions. Ottinger was to direct the Horror-Drama film Die Blutgräfin,[8] which based on the life of Elisabeth Bathory,[9] however this has not been filmed as of January 2015.

Ottinger has also worked as a photographer, lithographer and painter.[10]

Personal life[edit]

She has resided in Berlin since 1973. Ottinger has always been openly lesbian.[11]


  • 1972: Laokoon & Söhne (Laocoön & Sons)
  • 1973: Berlin-Fieber (Documentary film about the Happening Berlin-Fieber by Wolf Vostell)
  • 1975: Die Betörung der blauen Matrosen [de] (The Enchantment of the Blue Sailors)
  • 1976: VOAEX (Documentary film about the making of Wolf Vostell sculpture VOAEX in Spain)
  • 1978: Madame X – Eine absolute Herrscherin (Madame X: An Absolute Ruler)
  • 1979: Bildnis einer Trinkerin [de] (Ticket of No Return)
  • 1981: Freak Orlando
  • 1984: Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse (Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press)
  • 1986: China. Die Künste – der Alltag (China. The Arts – the People)
  • 1986: Sieben Frauen – Sieben Todsünden (Seven Women, Seven Sins)
  • 1989: Joan of Arc of Mongolia
  • 1990: Countdown
  • 1992: Taiga
  • 1997: Exil Shanghai (Exile Shanghai)
  • 2002: Südostpassage (Southeast Passage)
  • 2004: Zwölf Stühle (Twelve Chairs)
  • 2007: Prater
  • 2009: Still Moving (short)
  • 2009: The Korean Wedding Chest
  • 2011: Under Snow
  • 2016: Chamisso's Shadow

Further reading[edit]

Primary literature[edit]

  • Ulrike Ottinger. 'Ulrike Ottinger'. MNCARS, 2013. ISBN 978-8480262330
  • Ulrike Ottinger. 'Floating Food'. Walther König, 2011. ISBN 978-3863350666
  • Ulrike Ottinger. 'Image Archive'. Nürnberg: Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2006. ISBN 978-3938821152

Secondary literature[edit]

  • Laurence A. Rickels. 'Ulrike Ottinger: The Autobiography of Art Cinema'. University of Minnesota Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0816653317
  • Tanja Nusser. 'Von und zu anderen Ufern. Ulrike Ottingers filmische Reiseerzählungen'. Köln: Böhlau, 2002. ISBN 978-3412175016


  1. ^ "Ulrike Ottinger Faculty Page at European Graduate School (Biography, bibliography and videos)". European Graduate School. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
  2. ^ Andrea Weiss, Vampires and Violets. Lesbians in the cinema, 1992, p. 128
  3. ^ The St. James Women Filmmakers Encyclopedia (edited by Amy L. Unterburger), Visible Ink press, 1999, p.319-320
  4. ^ Woman Make Movies – Ulrike Ottinger
  5. ^ "Berlinale: 1989 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  6. ^ Ulrike Ottinger at the Renaissance Society
  7. ^ "Undiscovered Countries: The Films of Ulrike Ottinger" by Dave Kehr, subsection of "Film Series and Movie Listings," The New York Times, October 8, 2009. Retrieved Oct. 17, 2009.
  8. ^ THE BLOOD COUNTESS (in preparation)
  9. ^ Tilda Swinton Latest to Bathe with The Blood Countess
  10. ^ The St. James Women Filmmakers Encyclopedia (edited by Amy L. Unterburger), Visible Ink press, 1999, p.319
  11. ^ The St. James Women Filmmakers Encyclopedia (edited by Amy L. Unterburger), Visible Ink press, 1999, p.319

External links[edit]