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Thursday, April 18, 2013, 6:00pm
Goethe-Institut Chicago, 150 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 200
Director: Petra Seeger, color and b/w, 95 min., 2008
A portrait of Eric Kandel, Nobel Prize Winner and probably the most significant neuroscientist of recent times. A captivating older gentleman, whom Petra Seeger observes in New York, Vienna and Cahors. He speaks about his research and its connection to his life. As a child, he witnessed the Holocaust. Every person, Kandel explains at the start, will be changed by seeing this film – as with every other experience, too. Learning leads to changes in the synaptic transmissions of the brain. According to the scientist, memory holds our spiritual life together and thereby ensures continuity in our lives. Since the 1960s, he has been researching how short and long term memory works. In those days, this was a new area of science. Today, Kandel works with a young team from all over the world – the film depicts him as a team player, too. In Brooklyn Hall, New York, Kandel reads from his latest autobiographical book. A young woman explains, spellbound, that Kandel is the “rock star” of brain research. Petra Seeger accompanies the researcher and his family on a journey into the past, to Paris and Vienna. Kandel’s wife Denise – whose father was a Polish Jew – owes her survival to a French woman, who hid her from the Nazis in Cahors, in the region of Midi-Pyrénées. In Vienna, Kandel visits his childhood haunts, his father's shop, the flat which used to belong to the family, and he pays a visit to the “Ritz” bakery, whose owner was a famous supporter of the Nazi party. The close bond between Kandel’s research work and his painful, personal experiences becomes ever clearer. It is as if he has tried to find an explanation for the bitter memories – at least he has researched how they work and how they are made stronger through visual impressions and emotions.
Petra Seeger tries to make this relationship visible by depicting scenes from Kandel's childhood. She has worked as a director since 1979. She has also worked as assistant director, actress and – in some of her own films – as a camera woman. Her films focus on documentaries and portraits, amongst others of Christoph Schlingensief, Peter Zadek and Wim Wenders.
This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP with Denise Eiserman: 1-312-263-0472 o