„Family Patterns“ portrays the Swiss family therapist Satuila Stierlin. The one-hour documentary film is an intimate encounter with questions of family history and memory, intergenerational passing-on and systemic family therapy.


Synopsis

„Family Patterns“ portrays the Swiss family therapist Satuila Stierlin. The one-hour documentary film is an intimate encounter with questions of family history and memory, intergenerational passing-on and systemic family therapy. It is a contemporary historical document that looks back on Satu’s eventful life – a life that is closely linked to the history of the 20th century. As the daughter of a German Jewish mother and an Italian Swiss father, she experienced the pioneering days of family therapy at close quarters with her husband, the well-known psychiatrist and family therapist Helm Stierlin. In the film, we learn how Satu’s family of origin influenced her professional life and how family patterns work over generations. She also reflects on working with her husband and her role as a female family therapist.


Motivation

In the middle of the nineties, Helga met the therapist Satuila Stierlin. At that time, Helga was working in the Institute of Systemic Therapy in Berlin. She invited Satu to give a workshop about self-awareness. At the end of their short conversation, Helga realized that they already shared a whole lot of stories about their life and family background. From the very beginning she experienced Satu’s insatiable curiosity.

Bianca met Satu in 2005, during a joint film project on resilience. She came to know her as a lively, gifted storyteller with a moving biography. At the time, Bianca was working on the representation of (family) memory in biographical documentaries: What constitutes family memory and how can it be told cinematically? 

Family Patterns was born out of a shared interest in life history against the backdrop of social and historical upheaval. We do not intend to present an educational film on family therapy but rather, the portrait of an inspiring therapist. The film tells how her professional life was influenced by her biography. As a practicing therapist she has developed a deep understanding of diverse cultural and biographic influences.


Credits

Main protagonist: Satuila Stierlin 
Camera: Sandra Merseburger
Film editing: Bianca Herlo, Helga Kurzchalia, Cornelius Diemer
Music: Alexander Lyra

Many thanks to
Helm Stierlin, Larissa Stierlin,
Catherine Ducommun-Nagy 
Andrea Ebbecke-Nohlen, Jochen Schweitzer, Fritz Simon, Peter Kahane, Laure Coloni,
Eva Sturm, Misha Shenbrot
Cornelia Schroeder, Eliora Notowicz

Sound: Moritz Beneke
Postproduction and trailer: Marian Marx
Production: Bianca Herlo and Helga Kurzchalia
Poster Layout: Batash Studio

Special thanks to
Saskia Stierlin
Gudrun Plenert


Trailer

Trailer by Marian Marx

Stills