section Documentary Film Competition

Charlotte Salomon, Life and the Maiden

    • Delphine Coulin
    • Muriel Coulin
  • FR
  • 2023
  • 75 min

"Leben oder Theater? Ein Singespiel" With the help of the picture cycle of the young German-Jewish painter Charlotte Salomon, this pictorial autobiography succeeds in creating an animated film of a special kind. Entertaining, touching homage to an important artist who was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of only 26.

During her exile in southern France in the early 1940s, Charlotte Salomon created, with works encompassing around 800 sheets measuring 32.5 cm x 25 cm, what today would be referred to as a graphic novel. With expressive gouache pictures full of colour and movement as well as texts, she recreated both her own life and that of her family back in Berlin. She called this cycle of paintings “Life? or Theater? A lyrical drama”. The work is a personal epic, one that takes on a tone at times humorous and at others contemplative, and which the artist divided into acts and scenes: meeting her parents during the First World War, the many suicides in her maternal family (including that of her mother), her birth in 1917, her love for her stepmother, for painting and music, the seizure of power by the National Socialists, her romance with the singing teacher Amadeus Daberlohn and her flight to the Côte d'Azur. Featuring the voices of renowned actors such as Vicky Krieps, Mathieu Amalric and Hanna Schygulla this remarkable animated film uses, in addition to Charlotte Salomon's paintings, photos of her family and excerpts from newsreels and silent films. Directors Delphine & Muriel Coulin succeed here in creating an amusing yet touching homage to an artist of great importance who was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of only 26.

Text: Kira Taszman
English: Peter Rickerby


original title Charlotte Salomon, Life and the Maiden

international title Charlotte Salomon, Life and the Maiden

german title Charlotte Salomon, Life and the Maiden

JFBB section Documentary Film Competition

  • director
    • Delphine Coulin
    • Muriel Coulin

country/countries FR

year 2023

duration 75 min

Portrait of Delphine Coulin

Delphine Coulin

BIO Delphine Coulin is a french director and screenwriter. She studied litterature and political science before becoming in charge of the documentaries program for the Franco-German TV Group Arte. She is also an author as writing always have been a passion for her. In 1995, the two sisters started directing short films together. In 2011, they directed their first feature film, 17 girls, selected at La Semaine de la Critique.

Muriel Coulin

BIO Muriel Coulin is a french director and screenwriter. She has always dreamed to work in cinema and she graduated from the prestigious Louis Lumière school. She started her career as a camera assistant and then director of photography. She mostly worked on documentaries.