Listen | 30. Mar 2020

Bettina Oberli is Switzerland´s most successful female movie director - and the latest guest at my Widder talk podcast

When I met Bettina Oberli in January the world was a very different place.

There was no distance restriction order, no stay-at-home-policy, the shops open at busy Rennweg, the restaurants filled with people, the Widder Hotel open and fully booked as almost always

No virus that changed all our lives dramatically. At least - it had not arrived in Europe then.

Bettina Oberli had just finished post production on "Wanda, mein Wunder" ("My Wonderful Wanda"), a movie production with an international cast (Marthe Keller, Anatole Taubman, Birgit Minichmayr among others), and she was already preparing her next project, just that morning writing along in Widder´s breakfast room, after she spent a night here to focus on working, leaving her husband and sons behind in their Zurich home.

She was also in the middle of preparing her first opera production, Tschaikowsky´s "Eugen Onegin" at Luzern´s Opera house, which would have been premiered at March 21st. Now postponed to an uncertain date.

"Wanda" was about to be shown for the first time at New York´s prestiguous Tribeca Film Festival in April - that will now, hopefully, take place in September or October.

Like so many other directors, writers, artists, who prepared a special project and finished shortly before or in the middle of this world wide crisis, the virus interrupted Bettina Oberli´s work flows, the rhythm of creating, producing, finishing - and then hoping for response.

In Oberli´s case - mostly good ones.

When she dared to put elderly women on the big screen at Locarno Film Festival in 2006 the whole "Piazza Grande" cheered "Die Herbstzeitlosen" and their main actors on the big stage, and started her international career.

Since then she has worked in Germany and France, her last film "Le Vent Tourne - The Wind Changes" also premiered in Locarno, like almost always her husband Stéphane Kuty joined her as her camera man (read, what I have to say right here, within the watch section).

Now Bettina Oberli has to face all those odds, like everyone within the international creative cosmos. But she is neither depressed nor angry - still feeling privileged compared to others, because she is used to stay at home and write between projects. And also: she is not in the middle of working on set, like friends of hers, who got interrupted just a few days into shooting or, even worse, a film opening in the movie theaters - before they got closed, four days later.

"Wanda" will still premiere in New York - and then, hopefully with raving critics, come to European cinemas. "Eugen Onegin" is ready to get on stage, anytime, the theaters are allowed to reopen.

And in the meantime Bettina Oberli does what we all do: staying in her home office, taking long walks in the spring sun, at least two times at day, looking after her two sons. Hoping to stay healthy, taking life day by day.