Lilo Mangelsdorff’s documentary paints an insightful and personal
portrait of the composer Barbara Heller. Forthright and fully awake, the
now 80-year old guides us through her work and her private photo
albums. Her social engagement through music, an engagement informed
by the women’s movement, is communicated clearly with mementos
from her multi-faceted and rich life. Almost peripherally, the social
barriers before which women stood even in the 20th come to light,
barriers especially for women who wanted to express themselves freely
in music. It was late in life before Barbara Heller could realize her
calling as a composer. For too long, she had put her marriage and her
family ahead of her highly promising career as a musician.
Without explanatory commentary, Lilo Mangelsdorff primarily allows
the artist to speak for herself, and thus the film arrives at deep insight
into the composer’s unique understanding of music, of sound, and of
hearing. Examples of her music, spontaneously played on the piano, or
in the form of tapes from Heller’s private collection, or from workshops,
concerts, or of recordings, demonstrate to the film’s audience the entire
spectrum of the composer‘s artistic range.
At the center of the film stands Barbara Heller’s creative process: how
compositions grow from personal impules in which sounds and
phenomena in her immediate surroundings combine with her emotional
compass. Mangelsdorff captures these processes in commensurate
images to make them real to the viewer in a film that awakens a desire
for deeper listening.
Barbara Heller was born in 1935 at Ludwigshafen am Rhein. She lived
and worked in Darmstadt and Hammelbach in the Odenwald (forest of
Oden) as well as on the island La Gomera. Her compositions are
considered part of the so-called “New Music”, but they expand the genre
with a profoundly sensuous quality and harsh beauty. Her wide-ranging
work encompasses classical modernism as well as graphic notations and
experimental acoustic installations.
Lilo Mangelsdorff, Director, Film-writer, Producer, lives in Frankfurt am Main
After completing her work in Pedagogy, Sociology, and Psychology in Frankfurt, Germany,
Lilo Mangelsdorff undertook her studies in Visual Communications with a concentration
in Film with Werner Nekes at the Institute for Creative Arts in Offenbach am Main
until 1985. After some freelance work as studio director and video editor in various film
and TV studios, from 1992 until 1995 she was part of the artistic-academic staff at the KHM — Academy of Media Arts Cologne. There followed lectureships at the KMH as wells as the Universities of Paderborn and Frankfurt. In 1997, she received the Moldau Stipend of the Hessian Ministry for Arts and Sciences.
Since 1983 Mangelsdorff has been producing films for cultural and education institutions as well as art and media projects through the film production firm Cinetix GmbH (founded together with Wolfgang Schemmert). Her concentration has been documentaries. Her films have been a presence at film festivals world-wide. For her film, “Ladies and Gentlemen over 65”, about a dance project by the Wuppertal choreographer Pina Bausch, Mangelsdorff was awarded the Prize of the German Film Critic (2003) and the Jury Prize for the New York Dance on Camera Festival (2004). In 2014, her dance film “A Horse’s Dream” won first prize as well as cinema prize in the competition Choreographic Captures.
Filmography (selections): „Unterwegs in der Musik – Die Komponistin Barbara Heller“ (2016), „Human Animals Dance“ (2014), „A Horse’s Dream“ (2013) „Esel Hund Katze Hahn … und andere Musikanten“ (2009), „Wir sehen voneinander“ (2006) „Damen und Herren ab 65“ (2002), „Orpheus“ (2000), „Der Bebuquin – Rendevous mit Carl Einstein“ (2000), „Irgendwo habe ich Sie schon mal gesehen“ (1999), „Das sind wir“ (1995), „Happy and …“ (1989), „Winterwideo“ (1985), „Was wäre der Staat ohne seine Mauern“ (1984)