‘A new Ivens’, this is how German film historian Günter Jordan describes the documentary The Compass Rose (Die Wndrose, 1957). With an outstanding cast, like Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Helene Weigel, with outstanding directors like Alberto Cavalcanti, Yannick Bellon and Gilio Pontecorvo, this five-episode omnibus film presented a new style and format in documentary film. It was shown during the International Documentary Festival DOKS Leipzig celebrating its 70th anniversary on 3 November.
Directors from China, the Soviet Union, Italy, Brazil, and France tell a story from the lives of five women – a collaborative effort by filmmakers who had never seen each other before. Well-known actors and writers contributed to an episode film that was regarded as semi-documentary by audiences and critics and whose documentary power is captivating even today. The film stands out for its sociocritical attitude and realistic aesthetics. It is intensely atmospheric, incorporated short story techniques into filmmaking, combined a feature film plot with documentary film methods, maintained national styles in subject and execution, replaced dubbed dialogues by narrative comments, nationality by internationality, collectivity by individuality – astounding, simple and convincing. A new Ivens. He developed the idea and concept; he oversaw the integration of the episodes into a whole that was both innovative and groundbreaking. “I was ahead most of the time. And I want to stay there.”
Original Title: Die Windrose
Runtime: 104 min.
Director: Joris Ivens, Yannick Bellon, Alberto Cavalcanti, Sergej Gerassimow, Kuo-yin Wu, Gillo Pontecorvo, Alex Viany
Producer: DEFA-Studio für Dokumentarfilme, Internationale Demokratische Frauenföderation (IDFF)
Cinematographer: Joop Huisken, Robert Menegoz
Editor: Elle Ensink
Music: Wolfgang Hohensee, Chi Min, Anatoli Nowikow, Mario Zafred
Sound: Heinz Reusch
Script: Jorge Amado, Sergej Gerassimow, Lin Jen, Henry Magnan, Franco Solinas
Cast: Helene Weigel, Simone Signoret, Sinaia Kirijenko, Yen Mei-Yi, Vanja Orico, Clara Pozzi, Yves Montand