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City Girls: Silent Movies
by Karen Pecota

The International Film Festival Berlin is known to offer more than its wide range of films with the assistance of German Museum of Film. The 2007 Berlinale program offered special events in the Retrospective and Hommage categories sponsored by the Deutsche Kinemathek-Museum fur Film and Fernsehen (The Museum for German Cinema and Television) and comes in the form of a panel discussions, lectures or interviews. I attended two of these special events:

1. Hommage to Arthur Penn - an interview with Robert Muller
2. City Girls - Frauenbilder im Stumm Film (A picture of women in silent movies): a panel discussion.

Authors Annette Brauerhoch, Heike-Melba Fendel, Fabienne Liptay and Daniela Sanwald discussed the images of the “New Woman” of the 1910 to 1920 era and how it related to the film industry in the silent film era. Some of the key words used for discussion were: Fashion (accenting aggressive eyes, bobbed short hair cut, length of skirts, less feminine attire and revealing clothing), love relationships, self-confident females and jobs for women outside the home. This had a huge impact on the role of women in society and the film industry supported this transformation during the silent film era. It was a powerful medium which encouraged the modern woman (the new woman) to break out of social norms to where they had influence on political and social statements in society. The influences were noted by the less feminine fashions and it began to glamorize women working outside of the home. The positive media opened the door of opportunity for women to secure jobs in the city, which was where the action was for all of society. The 2007 Berlinale showcased 30 films from 11 countries which presented a well-rounded picture of the turn of the 20th century, City Girl.