AN EXCEPTIONAL BERLIN EVENING IN HONOR OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY SWISS FILM – OBSERVATIONS BY BEATE WEDEKIND*
What a wonderful surprise! The invitation from Swiss Ambassador Dr Paul René Seger arrived in Berlin at just the right time, inviting fellow countryman Dario Suter, one of the 4 partners behind DCM, who, as Swiss entrepreneurs in the film and start-up business, have become passionate Berliners.
As is the case for so many of us in these times, with our movements restricted by Corona, I’m also occasionally overcome by the urge to be among people again. For me though, even when receiving even the most personal of invitations, 2G+ is a must. Although I’m recovered and vaccinated three times, I’ve also got used to doing a free Corona lateral flow test.
What we celebrated that evening in Berlin can confidently be described as an all-round Swiss affair – the pre-premiere of Swiss film MONTE VERITÀ – THE RUSH OF FREEDOM from Swiss director Stefan Jäger at the Swiss Embassy.
High above Lake Maggiore and Ascona, Monte Verità is also one of the most famous and most extraordinary of Swiss institutions, whose accomplishments when it comes to self-determined personal development remain unrivaled to this day. The evening was all-round a complete success. First and most importantly, the film itself is fantastic, sensitively directed and highly emotional at the same time, well acted, even to the smallest of supporting roles, with utterly bewitching cinematography and a historical subject transformed into modern storytelling. And even though MONTE VERITÀ – THE RUSH OF FREEDOM takes place at the beginning of the 20th century, the subject itself couldn’t be more modern. At its center, a young woman trying to free herself from the corset of her daily duties as both a wife and mother and find a way to fulfil her desire for creative self-actualization.
Maresi Riegner plays Hanna Leitner, a young Austrian from a good home, who – bullied by her husband – finds her artistic calling as a photographer in the commune of Monte Verità, known at the time as a natural sanatorium, freeing herself from societal pressures to start a new and unconventional life.
Beyond the film, what made this evening at the Swiss Embassy so special were the entertaining and meaningful conversations between the hosts, guests and special guests, director Stefan Jäger and leading actors Hannah Herzsprung (outstanding as Lotte Hattemer, co-founder of Monte Verità) and Max Hubacher, the perfect embodiment of psychoanalyst and anarchist Dr. Otto Gross.
Everyone had something to say about the topic of realizing one’s potential, whether from their own positive experience or from observing the continued need for it in our society.
Of course, the evening’s atmosphere was also influenced by the magnificent architecture of the Swiss Embassy. In high-ceilinged rooms like these, you feel the excitement even more intensely. How closely the house’s first owner’s story matches that of the film’s male protagonist, the experimental doctor, Otto Gross, seems however to be only a coincidence.
The palace, built in 1870/71, has housed the Swiss embassy since 1920, but was the retirement home and private practice of highly acclaimed doctor Friedrich Theodor Frerichs, a man who, as the son of a simple Berlin innkeeping family, against all expectations, fulfilled his potential as a scientist and doctor.
As director of the Charité Hospital, Frerichs was knighted by Kaiser Wilhelm I, and as a member of both the Leopoldina, the Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Academy, he found a public recognition during his lifetime that Otto Gross only achieved in literature about the Monte Verità long after his death. Both, incidentally, were also considered magicians of their trade, loved their reputation beyond measure and lived it out to the fullest. The two also have something else in common, they died of addiction. One at the age of 43 as a cocaine addict, the other aged 66 from opium.
*PS from DCM reporter Beate Wedekind: Berlin Reunion with Stefan Jäger and his daughter Chiara. I became aware of Stefan Jäger a few years ago by chance in Addis Ababa, where we both worked with creative young talents. He taught film directing and production at the film academy in Ethiopia and was shooting the feature comedy HORIZON BEAUTIFUL with local students, which later won an award, while I was advising a young start-up entrepreneur, who acted as an extra and who brought me to the set.
All images ©DCM_offenblende/Michael Wendt (In compliance with 2G+ guidelines)