Leopold Hoesch
Martin Herzog
Peter Wolf
1 x 45'
Sandra Brandl
The Year of the Woman

1975 - half-time in this eventful decade. And: a year of strong women. No wonder, it was also the International Year of Women. For the first time, proclaimed by the UN.

The sixth film in the ten-part WDR series on the attitude to life in the 1970s in NRW focuses on women and their stories. Women like the Bonn student Florence Hervé, who demonstratively interfered because they did not want to see that - unlike in their French homeland - family and career should be mutually exclusive for women in Germany.

In 1975, other women simply did "their thing", as it was called at the time: the schoolgirl Vera Brandes landed a coup and lured the world-famous jazz pianist Keith Jarrett to a concert at the Cologne Opera. It almost didn't take place because the promised concert grand piano was not available and because the keys of the completely out-of-tune replacement piano were stuck. How the young Vera Brandes persuaded the maestro to play after all, and how it became one of the most successful jazz records of all time, is what she told documentary author Martin Herzog on the scene. For her, the Cologne Opera became a fateful place, and 1975 the fateful year that would determine the rest of her life.

This year was even more drastic for the 14-year-old Tu Phuong Le, who arrived at Cologne-Bonn Airport in the spring of 1975. Her destination was the Peace Village in Oberhausen, which had been taking in war-wounded children from Vietnam since the end of the 1960s, providing them with medical care and carrying out necessary operations and physiotherapy. Phuong was supposed to stay there for six months and then return to Saigon to her family. But no sooner had she arrived in Oberhausen than the Vietnam War ended and the new government refused to allow Phuong and 100 other children to return home. They were stranded in NRW and had to fear that they would never see their families again.

The state elections were much less dramatic: three parties, and as always, the SPD wins. Prime Minister Kuhn can continue to govern, with the help of the Liberals. The FDP sends Burkhard Hirsch to Düsseldorf. As NRW Minister of the Interior, he is henceforth allowed to deal with the problem cases of the long-planned municipal territorial reform, which is implemented in 1975. A whole series of towns and municipalities throughout the state resist their forced amalgamation or break-up: Wesseling in the Rhineland does not want to belong to Cologne, Meerbusch in the Lower Rhine resists being divided between Krefeld and Düsseldorf, and in the Ruhr Kettwig is struggling with its new affiliation to Essen.

There is a lot to do in NRW, especially since the economy is stumbling and unemployment is rising, for which many blame the two and a half million guest workers in the state. After decades of luring tens of thousands into the country, they now want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. But they become more self-confident: "We are still here!" is the motto of the first foreigners' congress in the Federal Republic in Bochum, where Italians, Portuguese, Greeks and Turks show their colours. But not everything is gloomy in 1975: at the first world championships in formation jumping in Warendorf in Münsterland, the German national team from Remscheid shows what it can do; the Scout school satchel is a big hit with NRW's "I" kids, and a young student from Leverkusen wins the national competition "Exemplary Driver" - if that's not a success in the Year of the Woman...

The film about the year of the woman is narrated - by a man, of course. Lutz van der Horst is the godfather of 1975. The comedian and notorious field reporter for the Heute Show was born in Cologne in August of that year, at the end of a week-long heat wave in the west of Germany - and this despite the fact that he, like his mother and his entire family, cannot stand hot weather. But at least Dad is on hand with the newly acquired Super 8 camera and gives a foretaste of his offspring's future career on screen.

First broadcast: Friday, 15 September 2017 at 8:15 pm on WDR

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