Fortunately there’s enough material within Ulrike Ottinger’s continuing body of work for 10 docus, since Brigitte Kramer’s “Ulrike Ottinger — Nomad from the Lake” only skims the surface of the cult helmer’s experiences and output. More a personal response to Ottinger’s career and travels than a deep exploration of her films and art, Kramer’s docu includes nice clips but barely touches on Ottinger’s significant nonfiction oeuvre, and feels too in thrall to its subject for any real analysis. Fests and German TV will be the only likely callers.
Ottinger herself is a welcoming figure, happy to share reminiscences about her childhood on Lake Constance (not coincidentally Kramer’s birthplace, too); her founding of an early hip gallery/cafe there; painting in Paris; and the avant-garde films she began making in 1972. Ottinger’s delirious blend of feminism, camp and spectacle needs to be understood in conjunction with other helmers of the time like Fassbinder and Herbert Achternbusch, but neither Kramer nor her interviewees, with the exception of art collector Ingvild Goetz, intelligently approach issues of context and influence. Crucial early collaborator Tabea Blumenschein is practically ignored; Ottinger’s troubled Countess Bathory project gets no mention.