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WOMAN WITH THE 5 ELEPHANTS, THE (FRAU MIT DEN 5 ELEFANTEN, DIE)

WOMAN WITH THE 5 ELEPHANTS, THE
Scene from THE WOMAN WITH THE 5 ELEPHANTS (photo © Niels Bolbrinker/Filmtank/Mira Film)

Swetlana Geier is considered the greatest translator of Russian literature into German. She has just concluded her lifework for Zurich’s Ammann publishing house – completing new translations of Dostoyevsky’s five great novels – known as “the five elephants”. Her work is characterized by a great and sensual feeling for language and an uncompromising respect for the writers she translates. Her life has been overshadowed by Europe’s varied history.

Together with the film director Vadim Jendreyko, the 85-year-old woman is making her first trip from her chosen home in Germany back to the places of her childhood in the Ukraine. The film interweaves the story of Swetlana Geier’s life with her literary work and traces the secret of this inexhaustibly hard-working woman. It tells of great suffering, silent helpers and unhoped-for chances – and a love of language that outshines all else.
Genre History, Literature
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2009
Director Vadim Jendreyko
Screenplay Vadim Jendreyko
Cinematography Stéphane Kuthy, Niels Bolbrinker
Gisela Castronari-Jaensch
Daniel Almada, Martin Iannaccone
Producers Thomas Tielsch, Vadim Jendreyko, Hercli Bundi
Production Companies Filmtank/Hamburg, Mira Film/Zurich, in co-production with 3sat/Mainz, SRF/Zurich
Runtime 93 min
Format 35 mm, color
Language
 Russian/German
Subtitled Versions German, English
Sound Technology Optical
Festivals Nyon 2009, Locarno 2009, Viennale 2009, Dok Leipzig 2009, Duisburg 2009, Kassel 2009, Rotterdam 2010, Solothurn 2010, Göteborg 2010, Rotterdam 2010, Sofia 2010, BAFICI Buenos Aires 2010, HotDocs Toronto 2010, Planete Doc Review Warsaw 2010, Silverdocs 2010, Moscow 2010, Melbourne 2010, Sao Paulo 2010, RIDM Montreal 2010, Tallinn Black Nights 2010, Havana 2010, Cleveland 2011, Yamagata 2011
Awards Prix SSR Idée Suisse 2009, Prix Suisseimage 2009, DEFA Promotion Award 2009, Sterling Award Silver Spring 2010, Award of Excellence & Citizen's Prize Yamagata 2011
With backing from MFG Baden-Württemberg, BAK Bern, MEDIA

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