Director Caterina Klusemann was born in Italy to a Venezuelan-Polish-Jewish photographer and a German painter. Her family was not a large one: she grew up with her grandmother, mother and sister in a villa in Italy. Her father died in 1981. But of her grandmother, the undisputed head of the family, she knows little more than that she came to Venezuela from Italy in 1948 and that she must have experienced World War II in Europe. Although her grandma refuses to discuss the subject, the filmmaker is convinced that her determined reticence is harming the entire family. Especially her mother, who, since her husband’s death has suffered such severe depression that she can no longer leave the house. Klusemann interviews all her family members, and even appears before the camera herself, but nobody wants her to continue with the project. When the director finally hears her grandfather’s name for the first time, she draws strength from it to keep on searching. She travels to Poland, where her mother was born, and arranges a confrontation with her grandmother, who reacts adversely and angrily. The camera gives Klusemann the courage to persist, even if the door is repeatedly slammed in her face. The spectator is forced to go along with the restless and intrusive camera with which Klusemann resolutely follows her grandmother. Klusemann perseveres in both a painful and amusing way, and is eventually rewarded.
An intense personal documentary that explores how a grandmother’s secrets of identity have had repercussions on two subsequent generations of women. In the film, Klusemann investigates her family’s cultural and historical roots, which wind through Italy, Venezuela, the United States and Poland.


Country of Production

Year of Production

Digi Beta Pal, Beta SP Pal

58 min

Caterina Klusemann

Caterina Klusemann in cooperation with ZDF, in association with ARTE

Original Language
Italian, Spanish, English, German, Ukrainian

English, French

Festivals / Awards

Bayerischer Dokumentarfilmpreis 2002
Niedersächsischer FrauenMedienPreis "Juliane-Bartel-Preis" 2002
Visions du Réel Nyon 2002
Shanghai IFF 2002
Prix Italia 2002
Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal 2002
Shadow DFF Amsterdam 2002
Input Conference Aarhus 2003