The world of Mizuki Wildenhahn

(New Westphalian from 06.04.2018)

Film premiere: The Bielefeld camera woman and director Beate Middeke portrays a 92-year-old Japanese woman living in Hamburg in her documentary “Frau Wildenhahn”. There are three performances in the lightworks

By Anke Groenewold

Geisha, Fuji, Harakiri. These three terms came to Germans in the 1970s to Japan. Too little and too much cliché was found by Mizuki Inai, who met and married German documentary filmmaker Klaus Wildenhahn in London in the 1950s. In 1977 she opened her shop “Ars Japonica” in Hamburg to show the Germans what Japanese culture is.

Today she is 92 years old and still stands in her tiny shop on the Reeperbahn and sells traditional items from Japan. “It’s an institution in Hamburg,” says Bielefeld filmmaker Beate Middeke. When compatriots are plagued by homesickness, they look past Mizuki Wildenhahn, who embodies ancient Japan.

The woman inspired the Bielefeld cinematographer Beate Middeke from the start so much that she decided to make a film about her – in addition to her full-time job at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne and at her own expense. For subsidies for author films beyond the mainstream, there is no longer so Middekes experience.

So the filming alone took over two years. After the cut, the director subtitled the broken German-speaking Mizuki Wildenhahn. “A show of strength,” says Beate Middeke in retrospect. But it was worth it: “Frau Wildenhahn” is the encounter with an unusual woman and Japanese culture alike.

Beate Middeke remains true to the “Direct Cinema” and the search for truthfulness. It focuses on the observation of this one person. It does not intervene, does not stage, is never in the picture itself and seldom heard with a demand.

Ms. Wildenhahn has left the director only in her shop, then in the small office behind it and finally in her apartment. “It’s a chamber play,” says Middeke. And a very cautious, quiet approach to a woman who embodies self-esteem, but also strength, principality and values.

Mizuki Wildenhahn lovingly strokes the polished bamboo of a gold-red fan, and one has the feeling that she would be reluctant to lose him to a buyer. Fortunately, it costs 416 euros. Whether she paints characters, cooks food, makes a package ready for shipment or shows with a girlish giggle on a piece of paper on which the admonition “chewing” stands, or whether she demonstrates how she masters the dangerous bathtub – everything happens with composure, concentration, Thoughtfulness, also cheerfulness. Instead of ticking off the stations of a “righteous, straight life”, Middeke says, Mizuki Wildenhahn dabbles some impressions on the canvas: how she became a maidservant in the rich acts of post-war London, but refused to serve until the lords refused her Miss Inai called Mizuki full. How she wanted to be a cleaning lady rather than a private secretary in the diplomatic service, because she felt freer when cleaning (“Mother let me fly free”). How her marriage to the filmmaker Klaus Wildenhahn, with whom she has two children, failed after ten years.

Money was always short of Mizuki Wildenhahn, but she exudes satisfaction and lives self-determined. She loves life in the city, wants to go to a museum or a cinema. If you only look into the landscape, you “become old”, she says.

“Frau Wildenhahn” has its premiere on Sunday, 8th April, 12 o’clock in the Lichtwerk. Beate Middeke presents her film. A second performance with the director is on Sunday, April 15, 1pm. The film will also be shown on Thursday, April 19th at 4pm.

Filmmaker Beate Middeke receives ‘Star of the Week’ for her documentary “Frau Wildenhahn”.

(New Westphalian from 07.04.2018)

Beate Middeke knew from the start that it would be difficult to get film funding for her portrait of a 92-year-old Japanese woman who runs the small shop “Ars Japonica” in Hamburg. The topic is not enough mainstream, says the Bielefeld woman, who grew up in Bad Driburg and Bad Salzuflen.

Mizuki Wildenhahn is a Hamburg institution, but not prominent. In addition, Beate Middeke is resisting the trend of staged, polished documentation. The 52-year-old cinematographer and director, who works at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, is a representative of “Direct Cinema”. It focuses on observation and intervenes as little as possible in the search for the authentic.

The film about Mizuki Wildenhahn she turned against all odds. The filming alone took over two years. And she financed everything herself.

Support this project and find out more here: http://frauwildenhahn.beate-middeke.de/

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