Choices/Voices

In WIE WIR WOLLEN (Choices/Voices), 50 individuals come forward with their experience of terminating an unwanted pregnancy in Germany. Personal, contemplative, sprinkled with jokes and moments of outrage, these recollections provide an empowering counter-narrative to the shroud of shame and stigma surrounding abortions - and people who have them.

WIE WIR WOLLEN goes beyond the pro choice / anti choice dichotomy, critically assessing what it even means to make a free choice in a society that oppresses people based on class, race, gender and dis/ability. Which choices are available to whom and why?

The year 2021 marks 150 years of the criminalization of abortions in Germany. Against the backdrop of a global assault on reproductive rights, WIE WIR WOLLEN is a timely contribution to the international struggle for bodily autonomy and the right to choose.

  • Sara Marie Dutch
    Director
  • Melanie Sien Min Lyn
    Director
  • Sara Marie Dutch
    Writer
  • Sara Marie Dutch
    Producer
  • Melanie Sien Min Lyn
    Producer
  • Svea Immel
    Producer
  • Aline Bonvin
    Producer
  • Donata Schmidt-Werthern
    Producer
  • Lenna Sophie Fichter
    Producer
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    WIE WIR WOLLEN
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 38 minutes 52 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 22, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
    Germany
  • Country of Filming:
    Germany
  • Language:
    English, German
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Kasseler Dokfest
    Kassel
    Germany
    November 17, 2021
    World Premiere
    Nominierung junges dokfest: A38-Produktions-Stipendium Kassel-Halle
Director Biography - Sara Marie Dutch, Melanie Sien Min Lyn

Sara Dutch holds a Master of Arts in Social Sciences. She works mainly in the fields of culture, film and civil society support. As an artist, her installations have been shown at numerous independent festivals in Geneva and Berlin. With the collective DAF Tivi (Geneva, CH) she works on a humorous reinvention of television as a medium.

WIE WIR WOLLEN (Choices/Voices) - made collectively with Kollektiv KINOKAS - is her first feature-length documentary film

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

WIE WIR WOLLEN was born out of anger and bewilderment. Before my exploration of reproductive rights took a cinematic form, I was active in a group with the goal of making information about sexual and reproductive health in the German and especially Berlin context accessible to newcomers to the city. In this context, I learned that simply informing people about abortions is a criminal offense for doctors, and that abortions themselves are illegal.

In 2017, the conviction of the physician Kristina Hänel for stating on her website, that she offers abortions (in addition to other services), once again drew attention to the extent of restricted access to abortion in Germany. A few months later, a majority in the Bundestag had formed to abolish §219a of the German Penal Code - which prohibits the "advertising" of abortions. Due to pressure from the Christian Democratic/Social Union on the Social Democratic Party, which consequently withdrew its support, the abolition failed. At that moment, I could no longer escape the need to make this film.

At that point, my research had also shown that there are very few films on the subject - and even fewer that take a clear position and don't try to adopt a justificatory stance. I wanted to make a film that focused on the voices of the people who had this experience in the German context and emphasized the systemic aspect of the personal. I also wanted to venture to the meta-level, which is often neglected, and ask larger, related questions. Where does this restriction come from in the first place? What does German history have to do with it? Which actors have the power to make themselves heard, and which others are deliberately ignored? What does the illegalization of abortion have to do with the restrictions on queer people starting families? Why does the media accuse racialized people of having too many children? Why is family reunification, which refugees are entitled to, often not implemented? Why are the rights of disabled people left out of feminist debates and activism on reproductive rights?
In other words - what about reproductive justice in the German context?

Beyond the content, it was important to me from the beginning to find a feminist form that consciously avoids the male standard in documentary film - the "male gaze". For me, this means not shying away from placing the lived experience at the center of the narrative and asking the audience to embrace and listen to women, non-binary and trans people. With this in mind, the omniscient "neutral" off-screen voice in the documentary is replaced by a chorus of women, non-binary and trans people as a stylistic device. The chorus represents the diversity of perspectives that each narrative and story holds. The staging of the chorus in everyday situations also figuratively represents the ubiquity of oppression: our bodies are regulated on a daily basis, not just when we are about to terminate a pregnancy. In the process, the old symbols of "horror" (coat hangers, knitting needles) are supplemented with less familiar historical symbols - for example, the picnic, which was used as a code word for illegal abortions in West Germany in the 70s-80s.

Ultimately, for me, this film was about daring to make a film at all, without a film school education, without cis men, without film funding, and without a production company. Who even gets to make films, and about what, and how? This film sees itself as an alternative answer to these questions and it was a great honor for me to have learned that it’s possible to do it in this way.