Director’s statement by Mirjam Unger

OH YEAH… It was 2008 when I decided to make a start on the idea for a film that later became OH YEAH, SHE PERFORMS. Throughout all the years I spent working on the radio, I encountered very few female acts. The charts hardly featured any hits written or performed by women. Björk and PJ Harvey were about to intrude into the male-dominated domain of rock ’n’ roll. But there were hardly any Austrian female musicians in that field. And then around the turn of the millennium, more and more self-empowered young women were entering the music scene, single-handedly taking over the tasks of writing lyrics, composing songs and producing, as well as performing live. Gustav and Clara Luzia are among those pioneers. However, in my opinion they were not well-known enough and so I started researching the female music scene together with my co-author Veronika Weidinger. We selected, met and interviewed over 20 female musicians, working in fields ranging from indie to mainstream. We collected experiences and delved into herstory as opposed to history. We soon realised that with the exception of a very small number of women, such as Erika Pluhar or Steffi Werger, there are hardly any successful forerunners for what these young women are doing today.
In 2010 we started shooting OH YEAH, SHE PERFORMS!, featuring Gustav, Clara Luzia and Teresa Rotschopf from the band Bunny Lake. Vera Kropf aka Luise Pop joined in later on. These four people, both as individual artists and as a collective, make this film a matter of personal importance to me.

It was a fascinating experience to follow these four performers as they developed their work and to get to know them at their most vulnerable and extroverted moments. Over a period of almost two and half years we met on an irregular basis for filming sessions, either in Austria or somewhere around the globe; between the sessions we didn’t meet or talk for weeks at a time. Albums were recorded and released, solo careers kicked off, babies were born, tours began and ended… The protagonists and their bands allowed us an ever more intimate glimpse into their lives.

One of the highlights for me was to work with the Aaton Super 16 camera, which I held at concerts or other special occasions. The photographic element inspired me in my work as a director. And editing the material with the great Austrian editor, Karina Ressler, was a delightful game of experimentation when the oscillating images captured by Eva Testor were combined with my Super 16 film material, shot in Super 8 style, to create a film on two narrative and temporal levels.

From the moment I had the initial idea for this film, I also wanted to make it for my daughter, who is 17 now and will go into the world with a new sense of self-awareness – a world where women strive to create their own role models and tackle re-emerging stereotypes. This film is a road map to a (yet-to-be-established) utopian world, where the battle of the sexes no longer exists because society has outgrown it; a world where men and women respect and support each other and work together on the vision and sound of a new era of equality.
Last but not least, this film means a lot to me because of the music. I have always been interested in music films or pop music in films. The realisation that there was a serious lack of female performers – and not only in Austria – inspired this film. And so it is even more important that OH YEAH, SHE PERFORMS! is broadcast worldwide to show how these strong and self-empowered women with esprit, vibe and wit, live, fight, laugh, sing and perform in the most beautiful language I know: the universal language of music.

I’d like to thank Clara, Eva (aka Gustav), Teresa and Vera, who brought their public and private selves into this film project and trusted me and my team.

Vienna, 23.06.2012