GERMAN CINEMA NOW! – Ulrike Ottinger’s “Madame X: An Absolute Ruler”

Screen this title on this page
May 27, 4–10pm


Sliding scale admission: $0–25

Please pay what you can; proceeds support our move to a virtual platform!

Ulrike Ottinger
2h 21m


The monthly Goethe Pop Up Film Series GERMAN CINEMA NOW!, curated by Jasmin Krakenberg, supports artistic works that amplify a plurality of voices and experiences to inspire public dialogue.

About the film:

Treat yourself to a unique experience of an unusual film told from a female perspective; a must-see for all fans of avant-garde filmmaking!

In May, we celebrate the winner of this year’s Berlinale Camera, Ulrike Ottinger. Ottinger is one of the most important German filmmakers since the 1970s and the Grande Dame of German avant-garde film. Her work follows her adventurous curiosity and creates unique poetic imagery.

Madame X: An Absolute Ruler, Ulrike Ottinger’s rarely seen first feature from 1977 and a coproduction with the ZDF television network, was celebrated as a sensation and prompted substantial controversy. It follows the notorious pirate queen Madame X as she gathers a group of women, bored with their everyday lives, to join her on her ship Orlando. Subverting conventional storytelling and realism, and the traditional male-centered pirate tale in particular, the women’s postmodern search for self-transformation routes through conflict and destruction and places them at odds with the rituals of the outside world. This highly aestheticized adventure about love, death, and utopia, invites the viewers along for an unprecedented journey that celebrates the marginal.

Ottinger reappropriates the aesthetics of narcissism for a feminist discourse, reflecting the problematics of reappropriation through a many-layered parodistic masquerade.” – Miriam Hansen, University of Wisconsin

About the filmmaker:

Ulrike Ottinger (b.1942, Konstanz) is a German artist whose work encompasses not only film, but also theatre direction, painting, and photography. Her artistic work has been shown at the Biennale di Venezia, the documenta, and the Berlin Biennale.

Ottinger’s film work comprises 25 short, documentary, and feature films including her first film in 1972-1973, Laocoon & Sons, with Tabea Blumenschein, and the Berlin Trilogy’s Ticket of No Return (1979), Freak Orlando (1981), and Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press (1984). A series of long documentaries followed that were created when travelling through Asian countries. One of her latest films is a 12-hour ethnographic documentary, Chamisso’s Shadow (2016) and it is just one of a dozen of Ottinger’s films that were invited to the Berlinale during her career. In addition, her films have been shown at numerous international festivals and have received various recognitions, including at the Cinémathèque Française in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. For her work, she was awarded the Deutsche Filmpreis, and the Special Teddy, the international film award for films with LGBT+ topics, and she repeatedly received the German Film Critics Award. In 2011, the Hannah Höch Prize of the City of Berlin was bestowed upon her for an outstanding artistic life’s work.

A modern browser is required to view this site.

Please update your browser.

Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave,

Seattle, WA 98122

206 329 2629

Notify me when new films, events, and workshops are coming up!