February 24, 2015

One of Germany’s first independent female filmmakers, Ula Stoeckl was invited to premier two films at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

Stoeck, considered one of Germany’s most important filmmakers, was awarded the prestigious Konrad Wolf Film Prize for her lifetime achievement in 1999 by the Academy of Art in Berlin. Stoeckl is an Associate Professor of Film in UCF’s School of Visual Arts and Design.

Stoeckl’s films The Resistors “their spirit prevails…” and The Cat Has Nine Lives screened at the festival which celebrated its 65th year with international stars and film enthusiasts from all over the world. Known as the Berlinale, it is the largest public film festival in the world.

At the festival, Resistors was celebrated in the Panorama program. Her 1968 film The Cat Has Nine Lives was selected for the Berlinale Classics category, premiering in digitally remastered form.

Critic Christa Maerker once called The Cat Has Nine Lives the first feminist film in Germany. It was Stoeckl’s graduation film, made possible thanks to a screenwriting award she received from the Kuratorium New German Cinema.

Shortly after the film’s release in ‘68&, Stoeckl said, “Women have never had so many chances to organize their lives the way they want. But first they have to learn that they can want something.”

While The Cat Has Nine Lives, stands as a testament to the enduring relevancy of Stoeckl’s films, Resistors demonstrates her commitment to shining a light on the past. The documentary tells the lesser-known story of students who clandestinely authored and distributed anti-Nazi tracts.

Stoeckl directed Resistors with her longtime friend and colleague Katrin Seybold, completed production after Seybold’s death in 2012.

Seybold’s words grace the beginning of the film: “The films I make have to get made, because when these people are dead they’re dead and all we’ll have left are Gestapo records, the records of the perpetrators. We can’t accept that.”

SVAD Assistant Director Jason Burrell says, “The School of Visual Arts & Design, the College of Arts and Humanities, and the University of Central Florida are proud of the recognition of our colleague Ula Stoeckl at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival. Her commitment to ethics, diversity, and memory make her an internationally significant filmmaker.  Her students cite the precision of her craft, communication, and generous guidance in their development and career success.” 

Alum Jeff Lehman attended both screenings and says, “I had always known how fortunate I was to to study under an artist such as Ula, but after attending her two sold-out premiere screenings at the Berlinale, it’s now difficult to put into words just how much of a privilege it is to study under one of Germany’s top female film directors. And that’s exactly what she is, a true master of her craft. Her insight as a filmmaker and storyteller are one of a kind, providing filmmakers around the world something to aspire, too.

“She has an understanding of artistic ‘vision’ that I have never encountered before, and it not only speaks in her own filmmaking, but also in her teachings; she had a significant influence in assisting me to find the vision for my own work. Having the guidance of Ula during the creation of my first feature film, then having the opportunity to see her first feature on a main stage like the Berlinale, is completely surreal.

“Also, I cannot stress enough how incredible of an accomplishment it is for any filmmaker to have not one, but two of their films playing in a film festival like the Berlinale; as far as festivals go, it simply does not get much better than this. And on top of that, the premiere of each film was completely sold out with people waiting in the lobby and outside hoping to still get a ticket! Unfortunately, many had to be turned away. It should be known, Ula is truly a gem.”

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