Maestras - The Long Journey of Women to the Podium is a German doc feature having its U.S. Premiere at the 2017 Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, an appropriate venue for its globally relevant message that looks at why, even today, being a female conductor means being an exception and examines why there have been so few female conductors in the international music scene.
Shot in German with English subtitles, Maestras runs a rather slight 55 minutes yet co-directors Gunter Atteln and Maria Stodtmeier use those minutes wisely in taking a look at a phenomenon that feels like it should be much more common in this day and age.
The lensing by Stephan Boerger is pristine and rhythmic, particularly capturing a rapturous flow with the incredibly talented Barbara Hannigan, a Canadian soprano and conductor who's renowned for her work in contemporary opera. The film also follows several other female conductors such as Marin Alsop, Anu Tali, Joana Maliwitz and others including a retro look at the life of former conductor Sylvia Caduff. Caduff was the first female assistant to Leonard Bernstein and directed the Berlin Philharmonic in 1978. Viewed as one of the true pioneers for female conductors, Caduff's accolades came throughout her professional career and opened the doors for many of the women featured in this involving and important documentary screening twice as an official selection at the Heartland Film Festival.