Switzerland, Germany


Dora is 18 and bursting with curiosity. Her mother Kristin has recently taken Dora off her sedating medication. The learning disabled young woman throws herself into all that life has to offer – this includes an infatuation with a man. To Kristin’s horror the two have a spontaneous sexual encounter that soon develops into a liaison: the morally dubious man is clearly drawn to Dora’s uninhibited sexuality. While Kristin tries in vain for another child, Dora finds herself pregnant…

Director's Statement

When in 2003 I saw Lukas Bärfuss’ premiere of "The Sexual Neuroses of our Parents" I left the theatre struck with a sense of ambivalence. One question kept going round and round in my head: What is morally right and what is wrong? I’ve been mulling over these questions ever since and eventually they led to this film.
A mother who can no longer bear the pharmaceutical sedation of her 18-year old daughter courageously stops her medication. Now, we witness the sexual awakening of Dora, a learning disabled young women, and follow how this casts her parents and surroundings into flux. Whilst teenagers usually withdraw from their parents, Dora goes the other way: She confronts them and thus us candidly with her sexuality.
Looking at the family, I was intrigued by how mother Kristin – out of love – encourages her learning disabled daughter’s autonomy. She wishes for her daughter to participate in life with self-determination, thus equal. But the fact that she embraces her autonomy with her whole body and a more than dubious lover comes unexpected to her parents. Without knowing, Dora is demanding her fundamental rights: the right to personal freedom and the right to marriage and family. Thus, she sends a whole family system into a tailspin. Initially Dora’s awakening harmonises with her parents’ ideals – she is active, full of curiosity and unconventional – but she soon grows unpredictable and becomes a danger to herself. As her sexuality manifests itself, so do the dangers surrounding Dora and her parents’ concerns grow: now, each of Dora’s actions cause a parental response of judgment, protection or control. Whilst her parents feel obliged to intervene, the authorities encourage Dora’s growing independence.
(Incidentally, in 2013, a new Swiss legislation came into effect: patronization and legal finger-wagging have made way for the right to determine your own future. In effect authorities are now legally required to offer tailor-made solutions for each person with disabilities. This development can be observed in many other European countries and their legislations.)
The story focuses on the shifting relationship between mother and daughter as the mother comes to terms with letting go of her own childbearing years and her little girl at the same time.
Their mother-daughter conflict escalates when Dora breaks out of their symbiosis and leads ...

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Stina Werenfels

Written by: Stina Werenfels, Boris Treyer

Produced by: Samir , Nicole Gerhards

Cinematography: Lukas Strebel

Editing: Jann Anderegg

Production Design: Beatrice Schultz

Costume Design: Gitti Fuchs

Original Score: Peter Scherer

Sound Design: Peter Bräker

Animation: Daniel Brenner

Cast: Lars Eidinger (Peter), Victoria Schulz (Dora), Jenny Schily (Kristin), Urs Jucker (Felix)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2015