Four years ago..
Selecting chocolates with Gerda Lerner. With Gennaro Ambrosino (Camera) and Renata Keller. May 2012
As I am preparing for the Premiere in Berlin tomorrow, I keep having memories coming up of my journey with Gerda Lerner that became not only a film – but an inner journey of great intensity where many set assumptions were questioned and liberated, especially around the question of what it means to be a self-authorised women (and a man).
Many of you who will be reading this have walked much longer and much more intense journeys with Gerda Lerner – and some of you don’t know her at all. I have personally ‘only’ spent 3 days with her and have deepened my understanding of why women need to know their own history with the many books and academic work she left behind and with learning more from her friends, family and colleagues as I was interviewing them and having various conversations with them. And now that the project is slowly coming to an end (if something like this can ever have an ending) there is a bit more relaxation again to let in how much my meeting with her has changed my life. It is now a little over four years, that Gerda agreed to the project, it was May 1 2012.
Below is part of an email that she wrote on that day:
Dear Renata ,
Thank you so much for the beautiful arrangement of flowers that were
delivered on my birthday. That was an extravagant gesture on your
part, but the flowers brightened my apartment and my day. They also
served as a catalyst for a conversation between me and my children and
grandson regarding your proposed project. They urged me to
re-consider my position regarding my participation in your project,
and after much discussion and contemplation I have done just that, and
would like to articulate to you my thinking at this point.
I am impressed by your interest and tenacity in doing a documentary
about my work and life and would like to cooperate and participate, to
the limits of my ability, in helping you bring this project to life.
The limited ability to which I allude however is real, significant and
a bit undefined, so I think it critical that in addition to whatever
material you get in direct conversation with me, you pursue accessing
and interviewing others who have knowledge of my work such as my
colleagues and my former students, as well as those who have been
influenced by my writings.
However, I have significant issues with my short-term memory and my
long-term memory has not been tested in this type of rigorous setting
in quite some time. I am willing to try, but you must enter this
arrangement with awareness that I may be unable, when the time comes,
to deliver my recollections on a reliable basis. Obviously, I have an
interest and responsibility to do my best…
Please let me know if you are interested in going forward on that
basis and please let me know when you are thinking of scheduling your
I look forward to hearing from you. ….
With best Regards
Now, we have End of May 2016. It feels that the world has changed so much since Gerda gave her interview. We find ourselves in a far more difficult world that is increasingly getting more complex. Patriarchal structures are not only ‘still’ alive – they are returning in their darkest ways and forcefully in traditional and also so-called ‘civilised’ countries (like the USA) where we thought we were actually moving forward – not backwards!
Reading the news, seeing how much women are still (and in some areas like social media increasingly) being disrespected and abused (and that includes nature, men, children, people of need) Gerda’s vision of a world where men and women are standing on equal ground and create a better world together is crying out even more loudly – it is screaming for it to manifest. For that we have to re-define history, and be connected to our innermost roots. That is not a difficult but maybe a sometimes painful process of waking up to what it means to respect life in all forms – to be able to differentiate but not separate…. and to have the courage to stand for a better world.
And there are great men and women doing great work for this to happen. We have got SO much to do but we are also standing on the shoulders of many great women and men who made great changes happen in history.
So, I am very grateful to have met this women, and very grateful to be able to show you the film about her very soon so you can meet her or remember her.
Looking forward to ‘meeting’ you all soon.
For English-speaking viewers: There will be a Premiere July 14 and 15 in London.
(followed by workshop with young people)
For US audience: Watch this space for showing in the US and downloadable on demand after July 2016.
For German-speaking audience: Keep watching this space for more showings in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. And in September a DVD will be ready at www.absolutmedien.de
For Spanish-speaking audience: Film with Spanish sub-titles will be ready autumn 2016 and there will be showings Jan/Feb in Peru and possibly other countries. Watch this space.
For Indigogo-Donors who are receiving the film as a gift: After July you will receive an online downloadable link from me.
If you are interested to show the film in your town please contact me. I am also doing workshops based on the themes.