It is one of the year’s most anticipated releases: The Swiss tragicomedy WANDA, MEIN WUNDER (MY WONDERFUL WANDA) by Bettina Oberli opens the 16th Zurich Film Festival. The world-premiere screening takes place in the presence of Federal Councillor Alain Berset, and the Mayor of Zurich Corine Mauch on September 24.
For the first time, the Zurich Film Festival opens with a movie directed by a female director. WANDA, MEIN WUNDER (MY WONDERFUL WANDA) 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 is a movie that captivated the entire programming team,” explaines 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 captivates with its great acting ensemble: 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 will have its world premiere here at the Zurich Film Festival.”
MY WONDERFUL WANDA is the first film that Oberli will present at the ZFF. Bestowed during the Zurich Film Festival in 2019, she received the Zurich Film Award for LE VENT TOURNE. MY WONDERFUL WANDA won the 15th Zurich Film Festival’s Filmmaker Award, which supports Swiss film projects in the production and postproduction phases.
The screenplay was written in collaboration with the director by the German author and dramatist Cooky Ziesche. It was shot in a villa in Stäfa, on the shore of Lake Zurich, in the spring of 2019.
MY WONDERFUL WANDA is produced by the Swiss production company Zodiac Pictures and supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, the Zurich Film Foundation, SRF and SRG SSR, Teleclub and the canton of Lucerne. The Match Factory in Cologne is in charge of worldwide distribution. The film is distributed by Filmcoopi Zürich and hits cinemas in German-speaking Switzerland on November 26. The first public premiere screening takes place in the presence of cast and crew on Friday, September 25. Tickets available from September 14.
Generali Schweiz is the official partner of the Opening Night.