“What started off as a small making-of feature about a theatre project has become a major film containing a great deal of what the cinema does best: depicting crimes, everyday life and major emotions. Using art to make reality more penetrating, as if it were no art at all.”
(Veronika Franz, Kurier)
“Women under the influence: Tina Leisch’s excellent prison documentary. […] In her cinematic debut theatre director Tina Leisch has made a surprisingly compact, multi-faceted milieu study which succeeds to a considerable extent in breaking away from its own shackles: “Gangster Girls”, which arose from one of Leisch’s theatre projects, presents accounts and personal stories of women behind bars without any patronising commentary. The film-maker does not dramatise or sanitise the material, relying entirely on the fascinating protagonists - who conceal their identity behind their garish theatre make-up.
(Stefan Grissemann, Profil)
“In the case of Gangster Girls the escape into the external stylisation of prototypical beauty is not something desired by the mass of these women but the final consequence of overcoming their own individual lives – which is accorded to every person as a matter of course but not permitted to these women.” (Elfriede Jelinek)
GANGSTER GIRLS is a film which makes its grandiose ‘characters’ readable as what cinema characters always are: something with a double, multiple brilliance. On the one hand something entirely individual (the very particular women and girls in the Schwarzau prison), and on the other hand something which (above and beyond the individual biographical nature) takes on the character of the ‘archetypical’. This in turn leads to another truth which is far beyond the yearning for authenticity contained in usual ‘genuine documentary elements’. So GANGSTER GIRLS is also a profound, electrifying film about the cinema itself (and naturally about theatre). About what is or what could be: ‘being myself’, ‘being you’; playing, acting, imitating, bearing witness, making films.”
(Alexander Horwath, Director of the Austrian Film Museum)