Writing the screenplay was a long journey, and although I was accompanied by two great dramatic advisers, I felt alone many times. Sometimes I thought I would never finish the screenplay – and never make the film. I always wanted to be productive in the mornings, but ended up writing and deleting all day, drinking too much coffee and checking e-mails every twenty minutes and stuff like that; I wrote the best scenes and dialogues at 4:00 a.m. with a deadline in the morning, always in panic. When it was finally done, everything else felt easy. Of course I didn’t sleep much in 2010, but I loved every moment of rehearsing, shooting, editing. (An Interview with Marie Kreutzer)
Though the screenplay never shies away from asking big questions, such as how much freedom kids can handle when growing up, the film remains a very accessible, some might say middlebrow drama along the lines of Guillaume Canet's recent Gallic hit "Little White Lies," which could mean healthy B.O. numbers if marketed well.
[...] a simple but superbly confident and mature debut from young Austrian writer/director Marie Kreutzer.
Gangster Girls (Tina Leisch) is the most fascinating discovery among the documentary films coming out of Austria at this year’s Viennale. Inmates at the women’s prison Schwarzau with thick layers of make-up on their faces perform stories on the stage, in the kitchen, the sewing room, and in the cells. Are they their stories, and where does the theater start?
Salzburger Nachrichten online / 17 October 2008
With Gangster Girls, the Viennale has actually been able to make an Austrian discovery: Perhaps it is not perfect, but this documentary film by emerging director Tina Leisch remains interesting throughout, offering fascinating insight into an Austrian women’s prison.
Michael Höck, ORF.at
Gangster Girls—the artistic product of months of close collaboration is now available, impressive, disturbing, touching, maybe even beguiling.
Barbara Huemer, Augustin online / 10/2008
With Gangster Girls, Tina Leisch sets new standards in the cinematic exploration of the Austrian penal system.
Ramón Reichert, Viennale Falter ‘08
Right from the start, this film reveals more than simply overcoming the contradiction between visual chronicle and the necessity of anonymity: Mouths, faces disappear under heavy, skillfully applied make-up; hair is hidden under wigs or caps. In this way, people become fictional characters to a certain extent, but the circumstances under which they live remain real.
Isabella Reicher, Der Standard / 17 October 2008
The film opens a new perspective for all involved.
Julia Pühringer, Kurier online / 20 October 2008
Austrian director Tina Leisch filmed Gangster Girls, which premiered at the Viennale, at Austria’s only women’s prison, Schwarzau. Her protagonists, made-up to the point of being unrecognizable, don fantastical blue-green bird-like paintings on their faces. Make-up is different than a mask. When the women say what it means to be separated from their children, what they did to land here, one can still see the quiver of their lips and the tears in their eyes. … Without switching over to fiction, Gangster Girls brilliantly sounds out the possibilities for revealing what people actually try to conceal to protect themselves.
Susan Vahabzadeh, Süddeutsche Zeitung / 30 October 2008