PERSONA NON GRATA
Psychodrama | AUT
Andrea Weingartner (50+) is a former ski-pro, once very successful and the hope of a whole generation. Back she was the youngest Austrian athlete ever to compete at Olympic Winter Games, but right after she suddenly quit her career, and nobody understood the reasons why.
The beginning of the story finds her almost half a life later arranging the funeral of her husband and father to her daughter Sara, who has died unexpectedly and way too early. When after the ceremony Andrea’s neighbour comes over to supposedly console, but really harass her, this triggers a series of events that expose old scars and force her to confront the demons of the past.
As it turns out, Andrea has been a victim of sexual abuse before: In fact, in the ski – boarding home she attended in the 1980ies transgressions in all shapes and forms seems to have been the standard and with the current #metoo movement many more such incidents are being brought to the surface. It seems not much has changed since the old days and Andrea intends to speak out about what she has experienced as a case of systematic abuse.
This doesn’t sit well with her family: The Weingartners are a respectable sports-dynasty. They have been winning medals for Austria for generations and are now well-to-do Tyrolean hotel owners. Especially Andrea’s mother wants to hear not a word about Andrea’s obsession with the past: It’s not good for business and to make things worse, Andrea’s daughter, who works in the family hotel, is pregnant from a holiday romance. A scandal right now couldn’t come at a worse time, really.
Still, after much doubt and distress, Andrea goes ahead and breaks through the wall of silence, when she gives an interview to a renowned newspaper. To her big surprise this causes an outright media frenzy and what started out as an act of personal liberation soon turns into a massive online – shit storm that resonates far beyond Austria’s borders. Since she refuses to give up the name of her perpetrator (for her this is about the system, not a single incident), her statements are being heavily doubted and she is confronted with disbelief, ridicule, even hate from all sides.
The powerful Austrian Ski Association OESV denies the veracity of Andrea’s allegations and even her best friend Verena joins sides with the “forces of old and evil” by becoming their press officer. This leaves Andrea alone with the truth, as even an official report is published that absolves the “system” of all wrongdoing. “Have you been lying?” asks the country’s most prominent anchor man Armin Wolf on prime-time TV.
The only one to stand beside her is her pregnant daughter, who meanwhile has done her own research and come across a few clues that appear to support Andrea’s story. Sara becomes Andrea’s emotional anchor in the following months and mother and daughter manage to mend their own relationship in the process. (The grandmother never comes to terms with Andrea’s version of the past. She has attended the same boarding school and opening this particular Pandora’s box seems way too painful for her).
When Sara gives birth to a son and Andrea grows into her newfound role as grandmother, she decides to do no more interviews. She has achieved what she set out to do and has initiated a paradigm shift in the world of competitive sports, as many more women – and men – step forward to report their own experiences of abuse.
Director Antonin Svoboda
Script Antonin Svoboda