THE BILEK

What is a "Bilek"? It’s the name signed to a long-running daily cartoon in the Münchner Abendzeitung (Munich Evening Post), a name readers and fans long assumed belonged a man, because of the cartoon's central character: the pot-bellied retiree, Mr. Hirnbeiss. But the beer-drinking bastion of German-ness and his adorable dachshund were actually the mouthpiece through which Franziska Bilek – a woman – commented slyly upon both the big news stories and day-to-day life, with its gossip, its problems, its small indignities. The paper's editors provided a headline as a prompt, and Franziska would sort through her collection of cut-out Hirnbeiss heads for the one with just the right expression to go with the situation into which she had drawn the rest of the body.

A film by Percy Adlon

produced by Eleonore Adlon

TV-Producer Heinz Böhmler

Cinematography Hermann Reichmann

Edited by Christel Suckow

 

16mm, in German with English subtitles, 43 minutes 

In this film, we visit her in the flat where she lived with her mother until the latter's death. Only then did Franziska marry, but now she's on her own again, and happy to welcome the camera crew into the crowded space where, with the help of a neighbour (whom she calls "Puma", with a wink) she in trying to hang new curtains. Hilarity ensues, as she tells stories about everything from the sound of Hitler’s voice, to how to make a human roast, to meeting the penguins at the zoo. This is not just a Bilek–this is The Bilek. There is no one else quite like her.

© 2020 by Percy & Eleonore Adlon