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There are films that surface at the very right time – or you discover them at the very right moment in history (or in your own biography). Cinephiles know this kind of bliss of “being awakened” by a film. Die Dohnal provides exactly this kind of experience at a time of deep political despair in Austria.
Johanna Dohnal, whose political career spans three decades, was one of the very first explicitly feminist politicians in Europe. And outspoken she was! She worked on a feminist project she herself was helping create, at a time when the Social Democratic Party of Austria was still firmly rooted in Central-European-style machismo while maintaining its role in the movement of non-aligned states in Europe. As a member of the Austrian socialist government and the first Austrian minister for Women’s Affairs from 1990 to 1994, Dohnal was responsible for founding Austria’s first women’s refuge as well as criminalizing of marital rape. Yet her legacy remains yet to be discovered and re-examined. Die Dohnal makes a first step, and it makes Dohnal come alive. A bliss in its own right. (Katja Wiederspahn)