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Ladies of Fortune (Gluecksritterinnen)

Ladies of Fortune
Scene from “Gluecksritterinnen” (photo courtesy of dffb)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 03/2009

In the immediate chaos following the collapse of the then Soviet Union, many women took the opportunity to seek a new life abroad. Faced with low incomes, an economy and infrastructure on their knees, to say nothing of the country’s social problems, these women, often highly educated as well as good looking, were determined to find the opportunities –
financial, educational and emotional – denied to them at home.

With Gluecksritterinnen (“Ladies of Fortune”), her first feature-length film, Katja Fedulova relates the stories of five young Russians who fled to Germany, where they became best friends. One has moved to Italy, one returned home and three have remained here.

The story begins in 1993 in Kiel, where Olga, Zhelna, Alesja, Oxana and Ilona get into university, pay their way by working illegally, party wildly and go hunting for eligible bachelors.

Fifteen years off, the film finds the five again and depicts their current life. What became of their dreams? Their destinies tell of a difficult fight for survival, of shattered hopes and pragmatic compromises, of love found behind the curtains of a sham marriage, of abortions and artificial insemination, of loneliness, sexual self-exploitation, alcoholism and of bright careers in the then Russian economic miracle – all tied together by the common fight for independence and self-determination.

For her starting point Fedulova (who was born in St. Petersburg in 1975) took the drastic experience of her own departure from Russia: “The political upheaval with the fall of the Wall violently changed people’s lives in Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union everyone had to start from scratch. Our parents literally fought to survive. We, the youth, had no point of orientation. That’s why in the film we draw a line from the mothers all the way to the grandchildren, to show the break between the generations.”

Gluecksritterinnen is Fedulova’s graduation film from the German Film & Television Academy (dffb). Ulrike Zinke, responsible for the screenplay, has been a freelance writer since 2003 while producer Max Milhahn, also at the dffb, has been a freelance producer since 2008. Gluecksritterinnen was developed within the framework of the documentary group Sputnik, a spin-off of a dffb seminar, and is advised by Andres Veiel (Black Box BRD, Die Spielwuetigen).

Genre Society
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2009
Director Katja Fedulova
Screenplay Ulrike Zinke
Cinematography Michael Kotschi, Jenny Lou Ziegel
Sylke Rohrlach
Producer Max Milhahn
Production Company Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB)
Shooting Dates Kiel, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Ancona, Minsk, Vilnius, May - August 2009
Sound Technology Dolby SR
With backing from MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein
German Distributor Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB)

World Sales
Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin GmbH (DFFB)
Josephine Aleyt
German Film and Television Academy (DFFB)
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10785 Berlin/Germany
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