Paris Calligrammes

17 September 2020

Run Time

130 mins
Tickets available soon

Paris Calligrammes

(Paris Calligrammes)

In a rich torrent of archival audio and visuals, paired with extracts from her own artworks and films, Ottinger resurrects the old Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Latin Quarter. Amongst their literary cafés and jazz clubs, she revisits encounters with Jewish exiles; life with her artistic community; the world views of Parisian ethnologists and philosophers; the political upheavals of the Algerian War and May 1968; and the legacy of the colonial era. “I followed the footsteps of my heroines and heroes,” Ottinger narrates, “wherever I found them, they will appear in this film too.”

“In 1962, as a young artist, I came to live and work in Paris. That period until 1969, when I left the city, was not only one of the most formative for me, it was also an era of intellectual, political, and social upheaval in modern history. The film Paris Calligrammes combines my personal memories of the 1960s with a portrait of the city and a social cartography of the age. Like Guillaume Appolinaire’s poetry collection ‘Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War’, I have given it the form of a filmic “picture-poem” (calligram) in which the words and images, complemented by language, sound, and music, form a mosaic that emerges from the vivacity of those exciting years while speaking to the fragility of all cultural and political achievements.” ––Ulrike Ottinger

“The film is a blend of the personal and the political. It’s a picture about Ottinger’s love of art, being introduced to artistry, and slowly getting the requisite experience to try to act on her desire to be an artist. It’s also a window into Paris at the time, albeit occasionally narrated with the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. There is never a dull moment as she gives a feeling of the politics of the time, and also of her personal journey, with the archive clips crisscrossed with present-day images. It is the work of a consummate artist who understands the importance of the form matching the story.” ––Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa

Supported by the Goethe-Institut London

Director Biography

Ulrike Ottinger has been a unique and provocative voice in German cinema since her debut in the early 70s. Over the past 40 years she has directed 26 films, which include both feature length fictions and experimental documentaries. She has received numerous awards, including the Audience Jury Prize in Montréal, the Bundesfilmpreis and the German Film Critics Award. Her films have been shown at many retrospectives, including the Cinémathèque française and Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Reina Sophia (Madrid) and the Museum of Modern Art (New York). Ottinger has been a photographer throughout her career, presenting her works at the Biennale di Venezia, Documenta (Germany), and the Berlin Biennale, among others. She has also worked as a theatre director and ethnographer and she has published several books.

Director Filmography

Paris Calligrammes (2020), Chamisso’s Shadow (2016), Under Snow (2011), The Korean Wedding Chest (2009), Prater (2007), Twelve Chairs (2004), Südostpassage (South East Passage, 2002), Exile Shanghai (1997), Taiga (1992), Countdown (1990), Johanna D’Arc of Mongolia (1989), Usinimage (1987), China. Die Künste der Alltag (China, The Arts – The People, 1985), Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse (Dorian Gray In the Mirror of The Yellow Press, 1984), Freak Orlando (1981), Bildnis einer Trinkerin (Ticket of No Return, 1979), Madame X: An Absolute Ruler (1977), Laokoon & Söhne (Laocoon & Sons, 1975)

Production Year





Primary Contact

Bojana Marić


Thomas Kufus, Kornelia Theune Pierre-Olivier Bardet, Gérald Collas

Production company

zero one film Idéale Audience


Lightdox, Sales and Acquisitions Contemporary Films Ltd