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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Top director Sabine Derflinger: “Why should I give in?”

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Sabine Derflinger, director and film producer
Image: lukas beck
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Her cinema documentaries about icons of the women’s movement (“Die Dohnal”, “Alice Schwarzer”) are also her personal statement for gender equality. Sabine Derflinger sees being a woman “clearly as a competitive disadvantage” for her career as a director and film producer. It was much more difficult for women, especially at the beginning of their careers, to get money for projects than for men. As an example, she remembers a project that was offered to her for a certain amount of money. “Until recently, women earned at least 20 percent less than men in film.” So she pressured colleagues until she found out how much they had been paid. As expected, it was a lot more. “So why should I give in?” She usually got her demands through. “I can highly recommend this.”

As a freelance filmmaker, she always had to make a living. She started making films herself much later than colleagues in her training, because it was more difficult as a woman. “And there were times when I didn’t even have ten euros. Fortunately, there was always a film award that saved me.” Her recent film successes have changed that, but an accident at the end of last year left her with a complicated broken leg, which is why she had to cancel projects. This creates uncertainty again, because “as a 60-year-old today, I know that the economic question of how I will manage in old age is not easy to answer.”

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Derflinger was the first woman to direct an Austrian crime scene episode. She directed many TV series, such as episodes of “Four Women and a Death” or “The Suburban Women”. Was her career more of a plan or a coincidence? “It was a plan, I always thought about something. For example, I wanted a crime thriller prize – and I really got it with a crime scene episode.” Of course, ideas were always brought to her, and when the time felt right, “I agreed” – provided the budget was right. It was often a tough fight before that fit. Once, she recalls with a laugh, “I still didn’t sign it on Friday, even though the first day of shooting was scheduled for the following Monday.”

In general, the following still applies – even if a lot has happened in this regard in the past ten years: “The higher the budget, the more difficult access becomes for women.” Nevertheless, quota and point systems would have improved the support conditions for women.

The self-confessed feminist draws strength from “banal things”, as she puts it: cycling by the lake or the sea, excursions, yoga with friends or reading. “The more normal, the better.”

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