The European Grandma Project aims to explore Europe’s history through its female narratives. Nine grandmothers (born between 1920 and 1935) from Europe and Israel tell their stories to their granddaughters, filmmakers who make them accessible in form of cinematic portraits. The European Grandma Project represents probably the last chance to conserve their life stories in the form of first-hand accounts. The involved European filmmakers and their grandmothers, provide with their stories and views a critical, as well as affectionate, perspective on a shared European history.
Their stories, our history.
THE EUROPEAN GRANDMA PROJECT Retells history from the perspective of women who were witnesses to contemporary history and who shaped the course of events.
Grandmothers from all over Europe tell their life stories to their granddaughters.
We show a female interpretation of events that took place during the past 100 years up to and including the modern day.
Politics has an impact everywhere: even in our personal lives.
We want to find out what kind of impact our grandmothers had to face.
Might history have turned out differently if our grandmothers had had a greater say?
Austrian film director Alenka Maly started the European Oral History film project THE EUROPEAN GRANDMA PROJECT. In 2015 she launched a European-wide call and found eight like-minded filmmakers, who created portraits of their grandmothers in parallel to one another in Israel, Greece, Italy, Iceland, Bulgaria, Russia, England, Turkey and Austria. These women, born in the 20s and early 30s of the last century, tell their filmmaking granddaughters about war, political upheavals, love, and everyday life in their time in Europe.
The nine directors have succeeded in capturing an authentic panorama of European history on film and creating a small cinematic memorial for a group of women, which offers an insight into the dark chapters of European history of the 20th century for the generations born later.
Relying on a large dose of humour and closeness that is impossible to feign without genuine intimacy, THE EUROPEAN GRANDMA PROJECT is not a mere compilation of nine encounters between granddaughters and their grandmothers, but also a poetic 20th-century history book of a different kind, compressed into 85 minutes.
We admire grandma Ruchama, born in Stuttgart who went with the Jewish youth movement to Palestine when she was 16, without knowing she wouldn’t ever see her family again; grandma Rosa who worked in the kitchen of an Austrian concentration camp; grandma Lubov whose mother died of hunger during the siege of Leningrad; grandma Maria who fought the Nazis as a young woman in the mountains with the partisans; grandma Monica who became a dancer at a young age and still is active; grandma Pena who established and led the town’s reading center and got awarded the people’s enlightener badge; grandma Dísa who wrote in her diary every day since 50 years, grandma Paola still driving in her car; grandma Muzaffer who tells about the peaceful living together of Turks and Kurds.
All these women and their stories couldn’t differ more and at the same time their lives and messages are very much alike. THE EUROPEAN GRANDMA PROJECT achieves the sense of togetherness that comes with the realization that, despite all our cultural differences, we are all in many ways actually quite similar. A film that Europe and the world needs in times like these.
See a description of the aim of the project also here
*Press release source: Crossing Europe
The book of life – the grandmas and their granddaughters
(© the filmmakers and Roland Freinschlag)
Press review (selection)
#11 März/April/Mai 2018
Christiane Löper of Radio FRO (Radio FRO 105.0 MHz is a free, non-commercial community radio station in Linz) met the two filmmakers Anna Olafsdottir and Desislava Tsoneva at the CROSSING EUROPE festival and spoke with them the about movie – and about their grandmas.
An interview with the initiator and filmmaker Alenka Maly and producer Nora Gumpenberger you can find here (in German)