Lina portrays the ghosts of the past
by Giorgia Del Don
- Swiss director Michael Schaerer’s film, which was given the Audience Award at the Solothurn Film Festival, throws light onto the ghosts of a not-so-glorious past
The latest film by Michael Schaerer, the director of the multi-award-winning Stationpiraten [+see also:
interview: Max Hubacher - Shooting Sta…
film profile], takes us back in time, to a relatively recent yet forgotten period in history, when many women like Lina were forced to fold in the face of unfair and blinkered authorities. The protagonist is played by Rabea Egg, a young and promising actress from Zurich who won the award for Best Actress this year for this very role in Lina. The award for Best Swiss Television Series rewards actors and actresses for their main and supporting performances in a Swiss television production during the Solothurn Film Festival.
Lina starts in the present, the present-day reality of a woman of about sixty who lives in relative isolation in her farm in Bern. One day she suddenly receives a visit from two strangers who turn out to be her son Daniel, who she only saw very briefly when he was born over 40 years ago, and her niece. This encounter triggers a tsunami of memories she thought she had buried forever. She gave birth to her son in prison where she was forced to give him up to avoid giving him a life “on the margins of society”. But what did Lina do that was so bad that it put her behind bars? Well, the atrocious crime she was found guilty of was being in love with the wrong boy (too prominent, too rich) at a time when the wind of change of 1968 started to blow across trouble-free Switzerland. Once the administrative machine started turning, there was no stopping it. The victim of an administrative internment aimed at re-educating her after her so-called “depraved behaviour”, Lina finds herself completely abandoned, confused and humiliated. For the first time in her life, our brave protagonist can finally “spill the beans”, thus freeing herself of a burden that has threatened to destroy her all these years. Without hesitation, audiences at the Solothurn Film Festival, outraged that such a story could be based on true events, unanimously decided to award Lina the Festival’s Audience Award.
With this film, Michael Schaerer has succeeded in dodging two traps into which he could have very easily fallen. First of all, he has managed to avoid overloading his story with a sentimentalism that could have suffocated it, and secondly, he has skilfully managed to portray the past without making it into a caricature, striking a clever balance between reality and fiction. Lina also stars an inspired trio of actors: Elisabeth Niederer, Fabian Krüger and Rabea Egg, who bring Michael Schaerer’s story to life in a discrete and emotional way without ever falling into melodrama. This “neutrality” is the greatest virtue of the film. The truth that shines through Lina, simple in its cruelty, can finally be brought to light without being distorted. A brave and moving tribute to all those who, like Lina, were forced into silence.
(Translated from Italian)