Helma Sanders-Brahms was born in Emden, in Lower Saxony, Germany. She studied acting in Hannover from 1960 to 1962, and German, English, and education in Cologne from 1962 to 1965. She began her career as a model and television announcer. During a trip to Italy in 1967, she interned with Pier Paolo Pasolini, a job that influenced her decision to become a filmmaker herself. She wrote her own screenplays and produced many of her own films. She made both narrative features and documentary films, many of which contain a strong autobiographical component. In the 1980s, she won international recognition with Germany, Pale Mother, which addresses German women’s experiences during and after the Nazi period. Her films were considered among the most significant of the post-war New German cinema, and were awarded many prizes at festivals worldwide. She was made an officier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.