Godi and Armin, two retired Swiss Germans, live in an abandoned village in Ticino. Despite of all their differences, the both become neighbouring friends. Godi renovates dilapidated buildings and does handicraft in experimental art. Armin lives by himself in a big villa and announces that he’ll end his life with 70 years of age. Godi struggles with Armin’s decision: Is one aloud to just die, without any reason?
Godi’s son Gregor tries to mediate, interposes and documents the stirring discussion.
Yesterday I’ve filmed my neighbour, the only „Zücchin“ living up here. That’s how the locals call us Swiss Germans. The neighbour has spoken about going with 70, but he isn’t sick.
This story gets under my skin. Can we phone today or tomorrow?
He doesn’t mind renovating houses during long periods of time, where others, only by taking a look, get overcome by despair. What counts is the perspective, the moment where time, space and leisure meld together. Yes, Godi’s an optimist.
Goffredo has settled down in Cumiasca a long time ago. Before that time he was a weekend and holiday resident. Here, in the south of Ticino, he returns to the roots of his family. In Cumiasca he’s been renovating a house for over 10 years. A few years later he had to move into another house in need of renovation.
Goffredo likes to film birds, alpacas, mice, cats, growing plants, the moon, lightning and his neighbour.
His optimism and ability to see the good in everything probably contributes to his youthful fresh appearance and to his incredible drive. Goffredo’s way of life represents the one of a generation who’s got the urge to act and change things but then gets caught up by existential restraints. Now, where he has his occupation as an arts and craft teacher behind himself, he can finally dedicate his time to his dreams.
“Privatier” is what’s written on his business card. Armin is a hobby distiller, former silk dealer and choir director. He adorns his spirits with seducing art nouveau pictures of erotic femininity.
The former psychologist spent most of his life in Zurich and left his occupation with 60 years of age. He wrote several non-fiction books and psychologically assessed hundreds of senior staff members. Armin is married for the second time and childless. But he actually lives as a single. Eighteen years ago he bought a big villa with generous surrounding as a retirement home for his wife and himself. But the plan of the shared home failed. Since then they both live separate lives in 200 meters of each other distant houses. Their couple status is only serving legal matters.
Armin’s open regarding his affiliation to EXIT. Eight years ago his mother has chosen to die with the help of EXIT with more than 90 years of age. Armin will choose to end his life in a similar way. But for getting terminal care with EXIT he’s missing out on arguments: His health condition aren’t striking. His decision to die early is a preventive one.
A hearse in the middle of a village, whose houses stand mostly largely empty – a sight that Goffredo “Godi” Frei, a recent settler in Cumiasca, couldn’t forget. He starts to shoot the movie by filming the surroundings: the animals, the everlasting natural play from come and go, the harsh contrasts of the Ticino landscapes. Godi shoots with the most basic equipment, having no special purpose. Then he got to know his neighbour Armin and with that also the story behind the hearse.
Goffredo convinced figlio Gregor, film producer, to come on board. At the same time he intensified the contact to his neighbour and found a talkative fellow human who felt flattered to be standing in front of the camera.
Together, the idea of a village chronicle came up, with Armin as the main figure. Goffredo’s recordings were piling up, but Gregor was not satisfied of them. So he stepped in as a cameraman. Goffredo now himself became a film character and Gregor took over the position of the observer. Later on Gregor also exposes himself in front of the camera.
The long shooting period has shaped the movie. It constantly reinvents itself. Panta Rhei, everything flows.
"70 is enough!”, Armin Gloor says and takes his life into his own hands. This plausible but at the same time strange attitude raises questions, which affect us all. We think we don’t determine our date of death, but that’s a fallacy. Delaying natural death with help of modern medicine isn’t natural.
Armin’s plan and putting it into action is one driving force behind this film, the other one regards the relationship between father and son: between me, the producer of the film and Godi, who agonizes with Armin’s decision. I’m searching for my father and find him through discussions about his neighbour and death.
The conscious play with different perspectives enriches THE LIFE BEFORE DEATH and adds a reflexive dimension to it.
Written and directed by
Simon Guy Fässler
With the support of
Produktion und Regie
Tel. +41 820 02 72