When I came of age, my father gave me a film about my life. It infuriated me, because I had attempted to get away from his camera all my childhood. My father, filmmaker Joschy Scheidegger, documented our family obsessively. It was only when he died that I was impelled to take over not only his extensive film archive, but also his camera. «My Life as a Film» is a personal search for the surprising truths hidden behind my father’s pictures. A philosophical family story about filming and the attempt to capture life.
Notes from the Director
I never wanted to make a film about my father, and although being a screenwriter, I even felt a proper aversion for cameras. The reason was that my father had been following every little step of my life with his camera since the second I was born.
It was not only me and our family life that my father filmed tirelessly. He also obsessively documented his Past. And this is also the name he gave to the 19 boxes of documentary material about his life which he had decided to bequeath to me. Secretly hoping I would some time make a film out of it. Not even in this life…
Only when my father died, I surprisingly felt the surge to tell about him. To tell our common history. I name it my Present. I needed to understand why my father was impelled to document himself and his family in this obsessive way, going so far to nearly stage our life.
I found myself delving deep into his vast film archive; probably also trying to pretend my beloved father was somehow still with me. On the other hand, it was the very first time I felt capable of questioning the family pictures he had filmed. The first time I felt capable of looking behind my own image of our family. The image of a successfull family: funny, colourful and happy. I grew up in Switzerland in the 70s, in a family enlightened by the spirit of the sixty-eight generation, in which no subject was taboo… or so I thought. Until I realized that there were in fact some things, which did not fit in the «official picture». Taboos hiding behind the portrait of the happy family, such as the ones to be found in any family: the death of a son, a marriage breakdown – and the sense of loss, sorrow and the feeling to have failed.
Why do we document and stage our life? The domination of new media gives the question a whole new relevance, not only for our family, but for society in general.
Since the 1970s, private matters have gone more and more public and public affairs nowadays invade the private sphere with social media. People stage their own private life on every possible platform, facebook, myspace and how they are all called. What do we have to hide behind these official images? What do we want to banish with them? How do we deal with the fact that our private life goes more and more public? And why do we go on staging our life instead of just living it?
I am a child of the media society. I see my father and his obsessive filming as a forerunner of this development, and «My Life as a Film» is my personal contribution to the subject.