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November 30, 2012

A Passionate Lover of Young Cinema:
German-French Critic Heike Hurst Dies at 74

Heike Hurst
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Heike Hurst

If Heike Hurst liked a film and you did not, it was impossible not to discuss it with her for hours on end. If she was convinced by the best intentions and mise en scène of a movie, she defended it with an outstanding passion. This passion was not only reserved for her favorite director, Abbas Kiarostami, but also for female directors and for films from all kinds of genres. This made her unique among European critics.

Attending the major European festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice and Locarno, the tiny woman from Paris with flaming red hair was always eager to discover new directors and movies that made you think about the essentials of life. Born in Gotha, Germany, in 1938 as Heike Müller-Benad, she started working for publishing houses in Germany and France. In 1963 she left for Algeria to help with the literacy campaign after the liberation. She finished her studies at Paris University with a thesis on the new wave in German Cinema, thus discovering her lifelong favorite subject: the relationship between French and German cinema. She taught German cinema, first at Paris University (1969-1979), and later at the Paris Graduate School of Economics, Statistics and Finance.

In 1975, she started writing about film: first at the German feminist magazine Frauen und Film, then for Présence du Cinéma Français. She also was a regular contributor to the weekly German magazine Filmecho/Filmwoche, French magazine Jeune Cinema, the weekly newspaper Le Monde Libertaire, and she had a weekly broadcast on young world cinema (her second favorite subject) on Radio Libertaire and the German website www.programmkino.de. She was the author and editor of books and publications about the relationship between French and German cinema (Kameradschaft/Querelle and Tendres Ennemis), and a consultant, translator and presenter at the French Film Festival in Tübingen and other small festivals such as the Women’s Film Festival of Créteil.

She always was in favor of films created by women and of showing a female perspective of politics, society and the economy. Heike Hurst didn’t write for the big papers and magazines but she influenced many other critics in their thinking and writing. When the “alien” – her term for cancer – took possession of her last year, she continued to work and love the cinema. When she gave her weekly cinema broadcast on November 28 for Radio Libertaire, she already knew it would be her last. She died on November 30 in Paris, at the age of 74.  (Andrea Dittgen)

© FIPRESCI 2012

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