For the first time, the Zurich Film Festival opens with a movie directed by a female director. The world-premiere of the Swiss tragicomedy My Wonderful Wanda (Wanda, Mein Wunder) by Bettina Oberli opens the 16th Zurich Film Festival on September 24.
My Wonderful Wanda (Wanda, Mein Wunder) tells the story of Polish-born Wanda who looks after patriarch and post-stroke patient Josef at his lakeside family villa. The work is poorly paid, but Wanda needs the money to support her own family back in Poland. As a live-in caregiver, she gains an intimate view of the family’s life, so intimate in fact, that Wanda becomes pregnant.
Bettina Oberli’s opening movie not only draws attention to Swiss filmmaking per se, but also casts a spotlight on women in the film business. “My Wonderful Wanda (Wanda, Mein Wunder) is a movie that captivated the entire programming team,” explains Artistic Director Christian Jungen. “It’s the perfect opening film and an ideal programming choice. On the one hand, it combines the entertainment value of mainstream auteur cinema with the standards to which our gala section is committed. On the other hand, it marks a new dawn of Swiss filmmaking, one that is able to reflect who we are in an entertaining and intelligent manner.”
Shot in Zurich’s aptly named Gold Coast region, the tragicomedy about money, dependence and the power of family ties stars: Marthe Keller, André Jung, Birgit Minichmayr, Jacob Matschenz, Anatole Taubman and, playing the lead role, Polish-born Agnieszka Grochowska. “Family is a motif that I often return to in my films, and here it is again in this very human comedy: what is it about this strange microcosm that makes one feel secure or, indeed, suffocated? I was also interested in what happens when a complete stranger, in this case the Polish caregiver Wanda, penetrates so deeply into a family structure that it leads to unavoidable intimacy.” explained the film’s director Bettina Oberli. “After shooting the film on the shore of Lake Zurich, I’m now delighted that My Wonderful Wanda (Wanda, Mein Wunder) will have its world premiere here at the Zurich Film Festival.”
My Wonderful Wanda (Wanda, Mein Wunder) is the first film that Oberli will present at the ZFF. She received the Zurich Film Award for Le Vent Tourne at the Zurich Film Festival in 2019,. My Wonderful Wanda (Wanda, Mein Wunder) won the 15th Zurich Film Festival’s Filmmaker Award, which supports Swiss film projects in the production and postproduction phases.