Was anderes machen (The Home and the Movie) | Maria Speth: Madonnen

silent green presents

With the festival Was anderes machen (The Home and the Movie), silent green takes the archive of Das kleine Fernsehspiel as the starting point for a historical retrospective, a description of the state and the question of the future of auteur film with events, an exhibition and a symposium. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the ZDF editorial office and the Arsenal Archive, television and film heritage will be commemorated together for the first time.

Madonnen, Maria Speth, Deutschland/Belgien/Schweiz 2007, 125'
Rita flees to Belgium with her baby because she is wanted for theft and other offenses in Germany. She sets out in search of her natural father whom she has never met. Itturns out that he has a wife and children. Rita’s sudden appearance causes complications in the family. She is eventually arrested by Belgian police and deported to Germany where she serves a lengthy prison sentence. During this time, Rita’s four other children live with her mother Isabella. She runs a restaurant and has little time for the children. Fanny, the eldest, has to look after her siblings.

After Rita is released from prison, she takes her children back again – against the wishes of her mother Isabella. With the help of Marc, an American soldier stationed in Germany, an almost normal family life develops. But Rita doesn’t trust Marc’s feelings. She eventually resumes her previous lifestyle: she sees other men and goes stealing with a girlfriend. When Marc announces he is to be reassigned to the US, Rita’s life is thrown off-balance.

The film gradually reveals the intricate story of a woman who asserts that her own mother was never nurturing towards her. However, she paradoxically goes on to have multiple children and relies on her own mother to care for them, thus imposing a role that she herself has rejected. Through this narrative, Rita's tale mirrors the destinies of the preceding and subsequent generations. It prompts us to contemplate whether Rita's oldest daughter will eventually express the same sentiment: "She was never a mother to me."

"Everyone seems to know what a mother may and may not do, and any violation of these expectations is met with massive moral sanctions – unlike when fathers fail to fulfill their expected roles. But in reality, society is full of mothers who do not fulfill their roles as they are expected to. That was my starting-point. My goal was not to describe a prototype, but a specific, singular person; a woman who claims her mother was never a mother to her. But then she herself has one child after the next, which she foists on her mother, forcing her to take on the role she denied Rita. I wanted Rita’s story to reflect the plight of past and future generations. And I wanted to ask whether Rita’s eldest daughter would one day also say, “She was never a mother to me”." Maria Speth

With Maria Speth in attendance


Film screening and discussion
Thursday, September 28
Start: 8 pm

Kino Arsenal


Was anderes machen (The Home and the movie) is a project of silent green Film Feld Forschung gGmbH in cooperation with Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art and Film Studies/Media Dramaturgy at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. With the kind support of the ZDF editorial department Das kleine Fernsehspiel. Supported by Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin. Supported by Hauptstadtkulturfonds.