Madonnas (Madonnen), Maria Speth, 115’, Switzerland / Belgium / Germany, ZDF 27.7.2009, OV with German subtitles

“Everyone seems to know what a mother may and may not do”, writes Maria Speth about her film, “and any violation of these expectations is met with massive moral sanctions – unlike when fathers fail to fulfil their expected roles.” With Rita, a disturbingly perfect performance by Sandra Hüller, the director creates a figure who intuitively goes against any Christian notion of a Madonna with child. A woman who, as if reproaching her own mother, brings one child after another into the world and is in turn faced with a teenage daughter. When Rita finally has something close to a happy family life, she reacts – once again – by running away. What is remarkable about Speth’s film is that it does not seek answers, but endures the scrutiny.

Maria Speth (*1967) is a German director and author. She has made both feature films and documentaries that have had successful screenings in Germany and abroad and received numerous awards. Among others, she has received the Berlinale’s Silver Bear, the German Film Award and the German Documentary Film Award for Mr. Bachmann and His Class (2021). In cooperation with Das kleine Fernsehspiel, she made the feature films The Days Between (2002), Madonnas (2009) and Daughters (2015), the latter two featured in the Berlinale Forum, as did the documentary 9 Lives (2012).