Dir. Eberhard Itzenplitz, written by Ulrike Meinhof, 1970.
Germany, 94 min.
In German with English subtitles.

MONDAY, MARCH 31 – 10:00 PM

Protest is when I say this does not please me. Resistance is when I ensure what does not please me occurs no more. – Ulrike Meinhof

“Bambule” is a term appropriated by German prisoners, and refers to the action of banging hard objects against the bars of a prison cell. Conceived and written by Red Army Faction member Ulrike Meinhof (1934-1976), BAMBULE, a German teleplay, tells the story of one day in a girl’s reform school (borstal) in West Berlin. The film begins as Monika and Irene attempt to escape, but only Irene manages to get away. Monika is meanwhile locked up for the day, and tells a sympathetic teacher about being bullied by nuns for being a lesbian in her last home. Irene tries to meet up with her girlfriend who works on the outside and visits old friends and her mother working in a bar. Overcome with the discovery that “freedom” is anything but, she returns to the borstal to participate in the growing unrest there. Iv, another girl in the youth home, has been instigating disruption. BAMBULE is an intimate portrait of a community of women within their prison, inside and outside the confines of borstal walls; they eat, work, sleep, grow insolent and discuss acts of resistance.

Prior to her involvement with the RAF (Red Army Faction), Ulrike Meinhof was a highly respected writer and journalist in West Germany and served as the chief editor of the influential magazine konkret from 1962 until 1964. The film gives us a look into the mind of Meinhof immediately prior to her jump into a life-long dedication to left-wing militancy. BAMBULE was planned to be aired on German TV on May 24th, 1970. However, two weeks before the film’s air-date, Meinhof aided in the liberation of Andreas Baader from incarceration. She went immediately underground with other members of the RAF. The first generation of the RAF were a communist, anti-imperialist, “urban-guerilla” group who carried out militant actions against a fascist state including bank robberies and bombings. BAMBULE’s premiere was cancelled, and the film was banned, shelved and not aired on German TV until the mid-90s.bambulestill