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recorded conversation 26 August, 19:00

Ruth Kaaserer & Anna Datsiuk

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This year’s Olympics were marked by a gradual revision of the machoist approach to sports. The American gymnast Simone Biles, one of the competition leaders, refused to perform in the individual all-around competition, citing her mental health problems: due to stress, the woman started “feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders.” The British diver Tom Daley became a media star thanks to his moving hobby: the athlete knitted several sweaters while he was sitting in the stands during competitions. Sports is a purely human activity, so the human being with all their emotions and weaknesses must remain more valuable than any records. But what if medals and championships can, in turn, become a personal saving grace for a human being in a difficult period of life?

Gwendolyn holds three world titles in weightlifting. She is now in her 60s and is battling cancer of the salivary glands. Is it time to take a step back from her ambitions and focus on her health? Gwendolyn has something different in mind: to become world champion once again. Supported by her family and her devoted coach, she continues training.

Ruth Kaaserer, the director of Gwendolyn, and the film critic Anna Datsiuk discuss what it means to “be a strong person,” talk about searching for one’s own sources of inspiration during difficult moments in life, about ambition and sacrifice, about victories and losses.


Ruth Kaaserer

Ruth Kaaserer


Ruth Kaaserer studied Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. She has received numerous grants for her work as an artist from the Austrian Arts Council, including residencies in London, Chicago, New York, Paris and Beijing. With her colleague Almut Rink she reopened an abandoned cinema in Haitzendorf in Lower Austria. Subsequently, they published the book No Place for a Cinema (2006, Czernin Verlag). Between 2002 and 2008 she lived in Chicago and New York, where she made her first feature-length documentary Tough Cookies, about two female boxers and a stuntwoman. She lives in Vienna.

Selected: Balance (2000), Tough Cookies (2014), Gwendolyn (2017)

Anna Datsiuk

Anna Datsiuk

film critic

Film critic, curator of the Kyiv Critics Week film festival, host of film podcasts on Podil Radio, film content manager at the Ukrainian streaming service

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Eight festival films from the new DOCU/CLUB Network collection!