My best friend when I was 17, was a girl called Andrea Wolf. She died in 1998, when she was shot as a Kurdish terrorist in Eastern Anatolia. There was a warrant out for her in Germany, as she was suspected of having participated in terrorist activities, for example the complete destruction of the deportation prison in Weiterstadt. She was also suspected of having been an associate to the Red Army Faction.
In 1996, she chose to go to Kurdistan in order to join the womens army of the PKK, the Workers Party Kurdistan. She took on the name “Ronahi”, trained and lived with the womens army for a few months, mostly in camps in Northern Iraq. Then in October 1998, her unit was tracked by the Turkish army close to the border. A heavy firefight took place. Only a few of the units members remained alive. They were under heavy fire by Army helicopters. Most of the survivors took refuge in what is being described as an earth hole. As surviving earwitnesses who remained in the hole say, she was shot by either army members or Kurdish village keepers after having been dragged out as a prisoner. Her case is only one of the many extralegal executions which structure this war.
This project tackles the question of what is nowadays called terrorism and used to be called internationalism once. It deals with the gestures and postures it can create, and their relationship to figures of popular culture, namely cinema. It´s point of departure is a feminist martial arts film Andrea Wolf and I made together when we were 17 years old. Now this fictional martial arts flic has suddenly become a document. November is not a documentary about Andrea Wolf. It is not a film about the situation in Kurdistan. It deals with the gestures of liberation after the end of history, as reflected through popular culture and travelling images. This project is a film about the era of November, when revolution seems to be over and only it´s gestures keep circulating.
In the eighties Hito Steyerl shot a feminist martial arts film on Super-8 stock. Her best friend Andrea Wolf played the lead role, that of a woman warrior dressed in leather and mounted on a motorcycle. The engagement expressed in the formal grammar of exploitation films later became Wolf’s political praxis: She went to fight alongside the PKK in the Kurdish regions between Turkey and northern Iraq, where she was killed in 1998. Now honored by Kurds as an “immortal revolutionary,” her portrait is carried at demonstrations.
In november Hito Steyerl examines the spectrum of interrelationships between territorial power politics (as practiced by Turkey in Kurdistan with the support of Germany) and individual forms of resistance. Her memories and accounts of Wolf’s life provoke the filmmaker to engage in a fundamental reflexion: She comes to understand how fact and fiction are intertwined in the global discourse. Her friend’s picture as a revolutionary pin-up would equally connect with either Asian genre cinema or a private video document. If October is the hour of revolution, November is the time of common sense afterward, though it is also the time of madness – Hito Steyerl considers from this perspective a relationship which began with a pose, and
Andrea Wolf took its implications so seriously that she was no longer satisfied with symbolic action. Wolf chose the Other of filmmaking, which was what made her into a true “icon”. (Bert Rebhandl)