An Actress's Thoughts

WIFT Germany & SchspIN on Top Cop Drama. Part 4: Cinematographers

Exclusively for WIFT Germany, I’m looking at the list of the 50 Episodes for the Summer Vote (see ARD website) for the 50th anniversary of this Sunday evening crime series with the film women’s magnifying glass. The texts were first published via the social channels of WIFT Germany on Instagram and Facebook, then in more detail here.

TATORT Cinematography – The Missing Female Gaze

Does it make a difference if a man or a woman is cinematographer of a cop drama? Is the female or male gaze created via the camera lens? And who decides who gets hired for this position?

The first two questions can be answered with yes and yes respectively. The third answer is not so easy, sometimes the director has to choose from a list of suggestions, sometimes they may bring someone along and sometimes someone is predetermined. It is easier to say who is looking through the TATORT lenses, these are mostly men. That may not be so surprising, given the fact that 75% of camera graduates at film schools are men, but something else is.

Let’s take the 50 TATORT (Crime Scene, German top cop drama) episodes up for this year‘s summer vote. Scenes, here we only find three camerawomen, that’s 6% of all DoP’s: Christine A. Maier (BOROWSKI UND DAS MEER and ANGEZÄHLT) and Birgit Gudjonsdottir (FRÜHSTÜCK FÜR IMMER). They get to share a small piece of the birthday cake, – and they all worked in films directed by women (Sabine Derflinger twice and Claudia Garde once). The fourth female director, Christine Hartmann (TODESBRÜCKE) and the 46 male directors all had men behind the camera.

Don‘t men want to work with camerawomen or are they simply somehow unable to? Or is it just a problem of films with high ratings? For comparison let’s look at other episodes of the TATORT series to get further insight:

From 2011 to 2020 (first half of the year) there were 360 TATORT premiering episodes (each 88 min). These featured 51 female and 315 male directors, as well as 30 camerawomen and 328 cameramen. In 2015 and 2018 there were no camerawomen in any of the 77 TATORTs.

Other than that, the tendency of the mentioned Summer Vote TATORTs is confirmed: Male directors almost never work with female DoP’s, but female directors do. More than a quarter of the female directors (27.6%) but less than every 20th director (4.1%) had a woman behind the lens. No matter if it was a very popular copper team or not. The broadcasters still have a lot of catching up to do, maybe looking at the website of the Cinematographinnen / Women Cinematographers Network, an association of German camerawomen, will be helpful.

The proposition that films with camerawomen are also successful was just proven by this year’s 77th Venice Film Festival, that just took place: the competition included films by 8 female and 11 male directors. Jasmila Žbanić, Julia von Heinz and Susanna Nicchiarelli worked with the camerawomen Christine A. Maier, Daniela Knapp and Crystel Fournier. However, these were the only camerawomen in 18 competition entries.


Comments are closed.