Pia Marais was born in South Africa in 1971. She studied sculpture and photography at art academies in London, Amsterdam and Düsseldorf, and then went on to study film at the Deutsche Film und Fernseh Akademie in Berlin, where she resides. Marais created four short films: Loop (1996), Deranged (1998), Tricky People (1999), and 17 (2003). After several engagements in film business as a casting director and assistant director, she directed The Unpolished, her first feature film, which has been screened at many international film festivals and has won various prizes, among them the Golden Tiger Award (Rotterdam 2007). Her second feature film, At Ellen’s Age, was developed at the Residence of the Cannes Festival. Her latest film, Layla Fourie, was screened at the official competition of the Berlin Festival and won an honorary award.

Pia Marais says of herself that she had experienced an ambivalent childhood as the daughter of hippie parents. The chaos in their life and the lack of boundaries is an ongoing source of inspiration for her work. That was also where the idea came for her first film, The Unpolished. In her films, Marais examines the conventions of the parenting roles, and constantly shakes the borders of concepts of family, motherhood and femininity.

Marais’ cinematic language is characterized by physicality, sensuality and a wild view of a world where boundaries are often broken and shaken up. Marais brings a courageous and trailblazing femininity to the screen. Her heroines are women who undergo journeys of discovery and rebirth vis-à-vis society and family. The feminine journey often involves struggle, loss and parting.

The Focus in her honor will deal with issues in her films The Unpolished (2007), At Ellen’s Age (2010), and Layla Fourie (2013).