Gangster Girls

Documentary, Austria 2008, 79 Minutes (52 Minutes TV-Version)
Directed & written by Tina Leisch
Written & produced by Ursula Wolschlager & Tina Leisch
Director of Photography: Gerald Kerkletz, Editor: Karina Ressler, Tina Leisch, Julia Pontiller, Music by Eva Jantschitsch, Sound Recordist Klaus Kellermann, Assistant Director & Choreographer Sandra Selimovic, Featuring Miranda, Sophia, Chantal, Fabienne, Sammy, Amélie, Roberta, Renée, and Cindy, Jason, Justin, Big Joe, Joker, Dominik, Ennis, and Djejdo

They are caught in between heroin trips and toy pistol muggings, between mad shopping sprees and depths of misery. They learn English and jail slang. They crave for substitute happiness smuggled into their cells and the next leave.

At the only women’s prison in Austria, Schwarzau, drug mules, robbers, and frauds share their cells and their yearnings for love, tobacco, and shower gel. They dream of their children who are far away or one of the inmates from Gerasdorf, the prison for male juveniles, brought to the women’s prison once a week for a co-ed theater workshop.

What put them behind bars and what is prison doing to them?

The young women’s improvised answers on stage are often entirely different than those that they give in intensive interview tableaus. This gives rise to a complex picture, drawn by the prisoners themselves, of the social space of the prison. Filmed during the work on the theater piece “Medea bloß zum Trotz,” the film foregoes pictures of rattling key rings, ornery guards, surveillance cameras, and monitors. Rather than directing our view to the daily incapacitation of confinement, the film moves primarily in the narrow freedom offered by the theater group, in which the young prisoners dance and flirt, letting sparks fly for a few hours a week as they practice creativity, wit, and pathos rather than discipline.

The film makes no claim of portraying the omnipotent disciplinary machinery of the prison, yet one nonetheless constantly senses how it works its way into the picture with an unseen power.

The Film GANGSTER GIRLS was enabled by the dedication of GOTTFRIED NEUBERGER, head of the penitentiary for women Schwarzau, MARGITTA ESSENTHER, head of the penitentiary for male minors Gerasdorf and their personnel, especially: SUSANNE SCHLOSSTEIN, SANDRA KAINDLBAUER, and JOHANN RENNER in Schwarzau, as well as MICHAEL HEILING, NORBERT SIGART and DORIS KRENSEIS in Gerasdorf.