Helke Sander, born 1937 in Berlin, attended the acting school of Ida Ehre in Hamburg and worked as a director at the Finnish Student Theatre beginning in 1962. She also worked as a traveling director for Finnish workers' theatres and Finnish television stations. In 1965 she returned to Germany and completed her studies at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin from 1966 to 1969. In 1968, together with other women, she founded the Aktionsrat zur Befreiung der Frauen (Action Council for the Liberation of Women). As co-founder of the first "Kinderläden" ("children's shops") she made a significant contribution to the liberalization of society in Germany.
Her famous speech at the 1968 SDS Congress, accompanied by the throw of a tomato, in which she accused the student movement's male leaders of not paying enough attention to the fact that "the private is political", is today regarded as the initial spark of the second wave of the women's movement and is considered one of the "100(0) key documents of German history in the 20th century".
Helke Sander campaigned from the early 1970s onward for the legalization of abortion, organized the "First International Women's Film Seminar" with Claudia von Alemann, which took place in Berlin in 1973, and founded the magazine Frauen und Film (Women and Film) in 1974, the first feminist film magazine in Europe, which she published until 1981 (the last issue to date, no. 68, was published by Stroemfeld in 2016).
From 1981 onward Helke Sander worked as a film writer and journalist (e.g. "Die Geschichten der drei Damen K.", 1987; "Oh Lucy", 1991; "Fantasie und Arbeit" (with Iris Gusner), 2009; "Der letzte Geschlechtsverkehr und andere Geschichten über das Altern", 2011; "Die Entstehung der Geschlechterhierarchie", 2017)), and held a professorship at the HFBK University of Fine Arts Hamburg. Furthermore she was co-founder and co-director of the Bremen Institute for Film and Television (1989-1993).
- 2005: Mitten im Malestream [In Midst of the Malestream] (documentary)
- 2001: Village (TV documentary)
- 1998: Muttertier - Muttermensch [Animal Mother - Human Mother] (TV documentary)
- 1997: Dazlak
- 1992: BeFreier und BeFreite (documentary)
- 1992: Krieg und Sexualle Gewalt [War and Sexual Violence] (documentary)
- 1989: Die Deutschen und ihre Männer - Bericht aus Bonn [The Germans and their Men - Report from Bonn] (TV documentary)
- 1989: Die Meisen von Frau S. (documentary short)
- 1988 Felix (segment "Muss ich aufpassen?")
- 1987: Nr. 5 - Aus Berichten der Wach- und Patrouillendienste (short)
- 1986: Nr. 8 - Aus Berichten der Wach- und Patrouillendienste (short)
- 1986: Seven Women, Seven Sins (segment "Völlerei? Füttern!")
- 1985: Nr. 1 - Aus Berichten der Wach- und Patrouillendienste (short)
- 1984: Der Beginn aller Schrecken ist Liebe [Love Is the Beginning of All Terror]
- 1983: Die Gedächtnislücke - Filmminiaturen über den alltäglichen Umgang mit Giften (documentary)
- 1981: Der subjektive Faktor
- 1981: Wie geht das Kamel durchs Nadelöhr? (documentary)
- 1978: Die allseitig reduzierte Persönlichkeit - Redupers
- 1973: Männerbünde (TV documentary)
- 1973: Macht die Pille frei? (TV documentary)
- 1971: Eine Prämie für Irene [A Reward for Irene] (TV movie)
- 1970: Kinder sind keine Rinder [Children are Not Cattle] (documentary short)
- 1969: Das schwache Geschlecht muss stärker werden - Weibergeschichten (TV movie)
- 1968: Die rote Fahne (documentary short)
- 1967/68: Brecht die Macht der Manipulateure! (documentary film)
- 1967: Silvo (documentary short)
- 1967: Subjektitüde (short)