Meerapfel, Jeanine 1943-

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MEERAPFEL, Jeanine 1943-

PERSONAL:

Born June 14, 1943, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Education: Studied at the Journalism School of Buenos Aires and the Academy of Art and Design of Ulm.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Malena Filmproduktion GmbH & Co., KG Droysenstrasse 6, Berlin 10629, Germany. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Director and screenwriter. Adult Education Center, Ulm, Germany, lecturer; Goethe Institute, various locations worldwide, lecturer; freelance writer and film critic, 1970-80; Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany, professor, 1990—.

MEMBER:

Academy of the Arts (Berlin, Germany), European Film Academy.

AWARDS, HONORS:

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship, 1964; Golden Ducat, Mannheim Film Festival, for In the Country of My Parents, 1981; Prize for Young Filmmaker, San Sebastian Film Festival, FIPRESCI Award (International Film Critics), Cannes Film Festival, and First Prize, Chicago International Film Festival, all for Malou, 1981; Interfilm Award and Otto Dibielius Award, Berlin International Film Festival, for Die Kümmeltürkin Geht, 1985; Hessen-Film Award, for Zwickel auf Bizykel, 1997; Art Award, North Rhein Westfalen Ministry of Culture, for the body of her works, 2000.

WRITINGS:

SCREENPLAYS

(With others, and codirector) Zwickel auf Bizyckel, Reinhard Khan Filmproduktion, 1969.

(And director) Malou, Regina Zeigler Filmproduktion, 1981.

Im Land Meiner Eltern (title means, "In the Country of My Parents"), Westdeutcher Rundfunk, 1981.

(And director) Die Verliebten (title means "Days to Remember"), Veljko Despotovic, 1987.

(With others, and codirector) La Amiga (title means "Friend"), Alma Film, 1988.

(And director, with Alcides Chiesa) Desembarcos (title means "When Memory Speaks"), Goethe Institut, 1989.

(With others, and codirector) Amigomío, Westdeutcher Rundfunk, 1994.

(And director) Annas Sommer (title means "Anna's Summer"), Malena Films, 2001.

Nazi Gold in Argentina, Leda Films, 2005.

Contributor to Film und Fernsehen. Also writer of film documentaries, including Solange es Europa noch Gibt: Fragen an den Frieden (title means "As Long As Europe Exists: Questions about Peace"), 1983; Die Kümmeltürkin Geht (title means "Melek Leaves"), 1985.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jeanine Meerapfel is screenwriter and director whose parents fled Nazi Germany for Argentina shortly before her birth. Meerapfel's work in many ways epitomizes the issues—economic, political, and emotional—with which Argentinean directors have grappled in the late twentieth century. Born in Buenos Aires, Meerapfel left Argentina in 1964 to study cinema in Ulm, Germany, and has resided in Germany ever since. Her films, however, frequently return to her Argentinean heritage. Meerapfel approaches exile, distance, and memory directly as in her documentary When Memory Speaks about how Argentina deals with its past. Similar themes crop up in her 1981 feature Malou, which shows the life of a woman (modeled on the experience of Meerapfel's mother), who follows her husband into a lonely exile in Argentina, an ocean away from her own native land. Again in 1993, Meerapfel approaches exile and the search for identity in Amigomío, a road movie in which a father and son flee Argentina after the disappearance of the boy's politically active mother. Noted in all of Meerapfel's work is the continual struggle to reconcile exile, rootlessness, liminality, history, memory, and the continual quest for identity. These thematic touchstones connect Meerapfel's work to that of other contemporary Argentinean filmmakers (especially María Luisa Bemberg, Fernando Solanas, and Luis Puenzo). Meerapfel's artistic search also relates to that of Chilean filmmakers in exile, and now in Chile, who struggle with similar issues and their own tortuous experience with a repressive dictatorship.

Like many Latin American filmmakers, Meerapfel has found coproduction to be the only secure route to a finished film and, as the German titles indicate, many of her films have been German-Argentinean coproductions. These factors, as well as her continued residence in Germany coupled with the Argentinean themes and setting of some of her films, create in Meerapfel a thoroughly Latin American filmmaker, one who cannot be pigeonholed as "feminist" or "Argentinean" and whose films resonate not only across Latin America, but throughout the contemporary world.

Meerapfel's most acclaimed and best-known film is La Amiga. Made in 1988, La Amiga concentrates on Argentina's painful modern history through its depiction of the formation and development of the political movement, Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo (the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo). La Amiga is a significant film not just because of its poignant story and strong filmmaking. In the late 1980s, Argentina's Radical government had declared an official end to the trials of military leaders accused of human-rights atrocities during the dictatorship. La Amiga is Meerapfel's contribution to the ongoing struggle, a loud refusal to let the human-rights debate end or to forget or forgive the crimes against Argentina by her own military.

Meerapfel's films have won several awards but have been reviewed widely. Malou was reviewed in the New York Times by Vincent Canby. Although Canby wrote that the performances of the characters were "good," he noted that "the role of Hannah is not written in a way that invites casual sympathy." In a Variety review, Dennis Harvey found that Nazi Gold in Argentina had a "slightly pulpy tenor," but overall, commented that the "re-enactment scenes are elaborate." Eddie Cockrell, reviewing Anna's Summer in Variety, commented that "Meerapfel exhibits a sure hand with … bringing long-departed ancestors back to life, stripping the process of all gimmickry and sensationalism while gently subverting tenets of woman's melodrama."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

New York Times, April 25, 1982, Vincent Canby, review of Malou.

Variety, September 17, 2001, Eddie Cockrell, review of Anna's Summer, p. 26; January 2, 2006, Dennis Harvey, review of Nazi Gold in Argentina, p. 25.

ONLINE

Academy of Media Arts Web site,http://elefant.khm.de/ (July 15, 2006), author profile.

German Films,http://www.german-films.de/ (July 15, 2006), author profile.

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (July 15, 2006), author profile.

Jeanine Meerapfel Home Page,http://www.meerapfel.de (July 15, 2006), author biography.

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Web site,http://www.sfjff.org/ (July 15, 2006), author profile.*