Film Archive

Gwendolyn

Documentary Film
Austria
2017
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Jürgen Karasek
Ruth Kaaserer
Serafin Spitzer
Joana Scrinzi
Ruth Kaaserer
Tong Zhang
Gwendolyn Leick is a master of countenance. It’s no coincidence that the retired anthropologist, writer and weight lifter quotes a passage from a poem by Gertrude Stein that refers to this: “If can in countenance to countenance a countenance as in as seen …” Gwen was born in Austria. She went to London in the mid-1970s to write her thesis on Babylonian curses. At the age of 52 the petite woman began to lift weights and has since won a number of international titles. While Gwen is preparing for the European Championship in Azerbaijan with her long-term coach Pat, she copes with unilateral facial paralysis and her third cancer operation.

After portraying female boxers in “Tough Cookies” in 2014, Ruth Kaaserer once more enters an athletic environment that has little to do with the familiar images of muscle building, grinding workouts and sweat. More restrained and graceful scenes were rarely scene at a gym. “Gwendolyn” pays the same direct attention to the everyday life of this unusual woman: visits to the doctor, life with her much younger husband Charlie, conversations with her son about what writing and sewing have in common. Sometimes there’s no choice – the seams must be unstitched.

Esther Buss