Janna Ji Wonders
A ruthlessly intimate and complex biographical work of cinema featuring four generations of women in the family of the film’s German-American director. The ancestral story begins in 1924 on the shores of Walchensee lake in the Bavarian alps, where Wonders’ grandmother Norma settles down. What follows is traditional Bavarian folk costumes, steaming, just-baked savoury pastries in a cafeteria, the Nazi years, bitter sadness, World War II, sorrowful guitar strumming, the search for one’s self in India and Mexico, free love in America, counterculture, a harem, and depression. All of these experiences are permeated by a dreaminess even as the women are tragically awake to the events surrounding them.
Accurately captured truths of life are the most perceptive form of dramatic composition, as confirmed by the award that Wonders received for her documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival. This epic work can be compared to flipping through a family photo album or randomly found colour slides and everyday home videos, accompanied by the warm tones of a narrator. We hear the voices of the centenarian grandmother Norma, mother Anna, aunt Frauke, and Wonders herself. They all say: the men stood out with their absence while we stayed.
Foreword by the programme curator: A fragile symphony of memories about the women of one family. As in Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, only the women remain.