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In this moving and personal story about identity, roots, and self-fulfillment, director Janna Ji Wonders seeks to uncover the sometimes-tragic secrets of her family’s past while figuring out her own place among four generations of strong, passionate women. Entrenched in their home near Bavaria’s Lake Walchensee, the women manage a café and inn while the men in their lives come and go. With the freedoms of the 1960s, Wonders’ mother Anna Werner and Anna’s sister Frauke take off for Mexico, where they perform traditional German music and take part in Ayahuasca ceremonies. They also visit San Francisco during the Summer of Love, travel to Indian ashrams, and became part of Kommune 1 in Berlin, led by the controversial Rainer Langhans. Though this is a multi-generational saga, it is Anna Werner who emerges as the central figure in Walchensee Forever, thanks to her candid and emotional reflections on her life, as well as her generosity in providing the movie with a treasure trove of photographs and home movies that bring the past vividly to life. The portrait of her mother that Wonders has lovingly provided is of one who sought neither fame nor fortune, but still managed to have an adventurous, experimental, and well-lived life complete with friends, love, and loss. “Involving… the film also works on a secondary level — as a first-hand account of the late 60s and early 70s counterculture movement in Germany and America” (Screen Daily). Winner, Compass Perspektive Award, 2020 Berlin Film Festival. (JH)

Walchensee Forever is presented with support from UW-Madison’s Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic Studies.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    110 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
  • Director
    Janna Ji Wonders
  • Producer
    Martin Heisler, Katharina Bergfeld, Nadja Smith
  • Cinematographer
    Janna Ji Wonders, Sven Zellner, Anna Werner
  • Editor
    Anja Pohl
  • Music
    Markus Acher