The first ideas about this film came up in 2015, when my documentary Whatever Comes Next was still showing at festivals. At first, I didn't feel ready to tackle a new project but then, a friend of mine invited me to visit Silvana Lattmann. She was 97 years old, living at Brunngasse 8 and brimming over with love for the medieval paintings on the walls of her apartment. I remember vividly when we sat at Silvana's table and talked about the beauty of times past. That’s when the elephant on the walls sparked the mouse to embark on a long journey. We started to shoot in Zurich, Tuscany, and on Elba. In spring 2018 when I taught my first storytelling course at the University of Zurich (the cornerstone of ZURICHSTORIES), things began to fall into place.
It is a small sensation that the wall paintings at Brunngasse 8 have survived: The depicted hunting and dancing scenes in the courtly (Christian) style of the time were painted on the wall inside the house at Brunngasse 8 around 1330. Their discovery sparked a lot of interest, both nationally and internationally, since its patrons came from a distinguished Jewish family that belonged to Zurich's elite: the widow Mistress Minne and her two sons had come into wealth as money lenders. But then, in 1348/49, the plague broke out and with it a terrible wave of violence. The Jews were blamed and persecuted throughout Europe.
The documentary tells their story. Six people, a mouse and an elephant contribute their unique thread to the fabric: The biologist and author Silvana Lattmann, now 103 years old, lived in the apartment for a long time; the Ukrainian-born rabbi and medievalist Elijahu Tarantul reflects on the role of women at that time and on his own migration experience; the former city archaeologist Dölf Wild tells about the discovery of the wall paintings; the scholar in Judaica Ingrid Kaufmann introduces the Talmud scholar Rabbi Moshe, son of Mistress Minne, who was killed in the pogrom. Jewish psychiatrist Daniel Teichman, who lives in the neighborhood, wonders if time can really heal wounds. Author Raoul Schrott explains why he can't imagine culture without migratory movements. They all reflect on history and its value for us who are living today.
BRUNNGASSE 8 premiered in January 2022, with Silvana, now 103 years old, in the audience. We celebrated in the sold-out KOSMOS at Zurich.
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