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Seven Dumpsters In Australia

Thomas Haemmerli on January 29th, 2008 at 04:21 PM and 49 comments

We’re proud to that the Dumpsters have been aired on Aussie-TV.


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  • 1 Julia on January 30th, 2008, 12:06 AM

    Your documentary was aired a little late in the evening, but even though I was sleep I stayed up to watch it. It’s fascinating how anyone (like your mother) can get so messed up – both in terms of her house and her family (I can’t believe she contemplated taking you both to court). Wow. As we say here in Australia: “Goodonya mate” for taking all the mess on.

    My mum loves to buy foodstuffs in bulk – a legacy of being one child in 16 and also having 3 children and a husband with very large appetites. Now that it’s just her and my father living alone she still can’t stop buying in bulk!

    My father grew up in WWII and Japanese military occupation – so he can’t bear to throw anything away – just in case it’ll come in useful someday.

    I have already told my mum that if I have to clean up the house on her passing I will hire a dumpster and just throw everything out.

  • 2 Julia on January 30th, 2008, 12:44 AM

    ps – is there any chance of getting Grandma’s party song translated into English for those of us who don’t understand German well? Danke schon in advance!

  • 3 Linda on January 30th, 2008, 01:10 AM

    Hi, unfortunately I only saw a small part of your film. Is it possible
    to purchase it or hire it anywhere in Australia? I have taken a look
    at your website and I cannot see any reference to mental illness. I
    would have thought your mother had obsessive compulsive disorder. Is
    this the case? I think her problem was more than being messy.
    Would you mind giving me your thoughts on this. I work in the area of anxiety disorders in mental health and come across a lot of people with obsessive compulsive disorder hoarding.


  • 4 Sandra Stone on January 30th, 2008, 02:49 AM

    I thoroughly enjoyed this program last night as we had experienced the same situation when my mother died, although (thankfully) with her in hospital. We photographed in stills most of the experience, once we could get the doors open within the flat, and still relive the experience annually.
    One comment I would like to make, many of the 1960 magazines we saw thrown into the dumpster had a good resale value as did many items that were discarded. I spent a couple of years selling and freighting collectables across the world. — Would love to buy this show on DVD in Sydney.

  • 5 Susan on January 30th, 2008, 06:09 AM

    Outstanding. I was laughing and crying. A well told story.
    Thank you and thanks SBS

  • 6 Thyone on January 30th, 2008, 09:29 AM

    I like Linda’s comment, but she seems to be australiEn and therefore might not get the full disaster of your documentary.
    Not only are you documenting the effects of your mother’s severe emotional traumata but also your own largely unreflected reactions and traumata.
    As a creative piece I like the documentary. It’s great that you let us share how things are just so much in your face. Also the tri-linguality comes across as successful since it shows just how much you carry your mothers’ inclination to languages.. (plus I personally loved it because I was sitting in my Australian armchair and could understand all three – which you don’t get very often if you live in Australia as a German speaking native..) The exhibitionist parts, where you simply display your actions of destruction – however important it may have been for you to get rid of the stuff – are worth a mere “yawn”. That’s not cool – it’s embarrassing. Boys, go get some counselling. In fifty years’ time your docu might serve as a study of degenerate capitalist boyhood ego trips. Very funny – congratulations!

  • 7 Michelle on January 30th, 2008, 10:28 AM

    I enjoyed the creative structure of your doco and can completely sympathise (although, thankfully, not emphathise) with the horrific task you both faced. However, I could not help but feel uncomfortable at your overt disdain and ridicule of the ‘issues’ that were obviously close to your mother’s heart. In her younger life, she was clearly a vibrant, beautiful, educated woman. As she clearly suffered from some form of mental illness in later life, it would seem her longtime passion for animal welfare and environmental protection perhaps also became her (obsessive?) interest. The fact that you were both unaware of her living situation is proof that you did not know your own mother. But to record and share your ignorant responses with the world is truly sad. Afterall, whatever happened between you, she was your mother and although you may not share her views, they were important and valid to her.

  • 8 Linda on January 30th, 2008, 11:33 AM

    Hi Thyone, I only saw a small segment of the show and my comments are based on that. As I said previously I would like to purchase the dvd and see the film in its entirety.

    I do understand the “full disaster” with this condition. Relationships with family and friends often break down because “the collection of clutter” becomes the most important thing in sufferers lives, however, as it is an obsessive compulsive disorder, the person with the condition has no control over it, and needs to get good professional help. to try to overcome or manage the disorder.

  • 9 judy on January 30th, 2008, 11:56 AM

    this is Collier Brothers Syndrome

  • 10 Thomas Haemmerli (Author) on January 30th, 2008, 05:47 PM

    Wow! Thanks a lot for your comments. For the DVD: There should come out one in Swizerland at the end of March.
    For that DVD I interviewed several specialist, and as much as I have learnt there is still not enough scientific research done, to be sure what it is.
    After having been in the apartement I suspected, that it had to do with the fact that my mother was living the times of scarcity during and after world war II and it had to do with her inclination to ecology.
    All the psychoanalytical inclined specialists however do state, that the messie-phenomena is cuased by underlying psychological problems or illnesses.
    The war, ecology or the idea of the perfect archive would then just be rationalizations and justifications.
    And than it is although difficult to say, where are the boundaries between collectors and messies.
    For myself I came up with a simplistic definition with two criteria: It’s pathologic when your not operational any more, because you don’t find anything any more. In the case of our mother we found for example five drilling machines, because the first one drowned in the chaos, so she bought a new one and so on. The second criteria is, that you dont let anybody enter your apartement because you are ashamed.

    Having toured with the film quite a lot, there is one thing for sure: Practically all Messies are very good at hiding there condition. My brother was quite close to my mother, When he was working in Munich she stayed some time in his apartement there. And during years she always would tell us, that she woudl invite us soon, but there were always obstacles. No chance to get in to that apartement. One of the traits that they have in common: They change the locks as soon as the rent a falt, in order not to have to let anybody in. So even if Michelle might be right that we

    didn’t know our mother

    , I just can say, it just wasn’t possible. This is an observation I share with many relatives who know or suspect that somebody close to them is a messie.

    Now for Michelles second pint of critic:

    To record and share your ignorant responses with the world is truly sad.

    For the ignorant responses I can only say, it was a very tough experience. The stink of the copse was allways there, the shock that you mother is dead and the shock that you are confronted with such an apartement were devastating. My brother and I reacted as we always do, when the goinig get’s tough: With work and with sacrasm. And: While filming we never knew that this would become a film one day.

    Now one can ask: Is it justified to show it? I do think so. At the moment we entered the apartement it was our apartement, our stuff and we had to deal with it. It doesnt matter, if or what you believe in. In all great religions the entity that stays after death is not interested to much in its worldly image. So I think nothing speaks against showing what we went through. (The starting point of the film was the imposition of being confronted with this situation, it was never a portrait of my mother).

    I even would state that ethicaly one hat not only a justification but an obligation to show an apartement like that. I often argue: Would I have made 20 years ago a film, that wold have unveiled that my mother was a junkie or a lesbian I would have been crucified. I don’t know about Australia, but in Switzerland we have seen so many documentaries, articles, films and debates on junkies an on homosexuality, that nowadays a rational discusion is possible.
    When I started to work on the film, I was a bit ashamed to say: I work on a film about my mother who was a messie.
    I do hope that there will be much more films, articles and tv-shows, so that in the future it will be possible to deal with the problem more rationaly. And that it will be easier for people who are affected to say: I suffer from compulsive hoarding disorder. I am a messie.
    So I do believe the film is justified. Whether you like it and it’s humour or not, this is up to you.

    PS: Translating the Song Lululied (that you can download here) would be quite dificult because it’s rhymed and rather risqué without ever being explicit.

  • 11 Sandra Stone on January 30th, 2008, 11:13 PM


    You have no reason to apologise or even justify your reaction to what you found. Unless someone has experienced first hand this situation, as I commented earlier that we had, they cannot imagine their own reaction. I, too, made black humour jokes throughout the terrible ordeal. I would like to add that we faced an extra dilemma, my mother was hospitalised with late stage cancer, she came close to death but rallied repeatedly for nine weeks; so… did we start to throw out her junk just to get to the necessary documents, or did we have any right to throw anything out when she may well have rallied and returned to her formidable, controlling self?

  • 12 rachel on January 31st, 2008, 12:30 AM

    hallo, liebi grüess us australie. leider han ich nur no de schluss gseh und das isch sehr idrücklich gsi. de vermieter hät mi sehr a mini ziit ide schwiiz erinneret. ich hoffe de dvd chunt bald use und das en mini family ide schwiz chan uf australie schicke!
    great movie, loved it, although i saw only the last bit of it. hope they screen it again one day. congratulations! this is a story that needs telling regardless!

  • 13 Monika on January 31st, 2008, 12:39 AM

    Tschou Thomas,

    Your documentary has me still thinking about it. It was just mind boggling to see it, specially since I went through a VERY similar experience, with the difference that my mother vanished for six weeks during which everybody thought she had killed herself due to bankruptcy. We had to go back to Switzerland to help with the clean up which took alot longer than 4 weeks. Now she found a new place to live and guess what? She has managed to start the next accumulation of mess, junk and dirt. So I am pretty sure we will have to go through it again in the future. I found it fascinating to see so many similarities between your mother and mine. We got through it all with alot of sarcasm and black humor. At the time my uncle suggested hiring someone to make my mother’s mess into a movie, I am glad we decided against it. But I sincerely congratulate you on your film – that took alot of guts and shows all the other people out there with messies that they are not alone! Chapeau!

  • 14 Deb on January 31st, 2008, 02:48 AM

    I felt very sad that you exploited her in death as much as you misunderstood her in life.

    It does seem she deserved better than this.

    No more mother bashing please.

  • 15 Gabi on January 31st, 2008, 02:55 AM


    Ich war voellig ueberrascht, dass SBS eure Dokumentation zeigt. Freunde in der Schweiz haben mir von euren Film berichtet und waren total begeistert.
    Wir koennen uns nur anschliessen.
    Mein Onkel hat ‘nur’ 3 Tage in seiner Wohnung gelegen. Die Wohnung in einem grauenhaften Zustand. Nach aussen hin war mein Onkel immer ‘wie aus dem Ei gepellt’ und er ebenfalls niemand in seine Wohnung gelassen.

    Ich fand die Art und Weise wie ihr eure persoenliche Geschichte aufgearbeitet habt brilliant.

    Vielen Dank

  • 16 Symn on January 31st, 2008, 09:49 AM

    I was captivated by your film which was shown in Australia the night before last. The absolutely wonderful telling of a very sad story.

    It really got me thinking as my own mother has filled her house with years and years’ worth of rubbish, and my father even still lives in the house and is powerless to do anything about it. I don’t go there any more. I told her that upon her death I would get a tractor and trailer and empty out the house. She was aghast. I can certainly understand your emotions on finding the apartment the way it was.

    Anyway, back to you guys. Thanks for a brilliant film.

    Good luck to you both.

  • 17 Jolien on January 31st, 2008, 12:04 PM

    I watched your documentary with a combination of horror, laughter, sadness and amazement. It was totally fascinating. The different layers of what was happening in the flat whilst you were simultaneously uncovering your own family history was incredible.

    Today and yesterday after seeing the documentary I started to seriously declutter our house!! Not that I’m a ” messie” as you call it- but the possible potential is there in a few corners of our house!

    The scene where your foot gets stuck in the wicker cat basket had us crying with laughter, it was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while.

    I feel sad too – your mother’s childhood and relationship with her mother and father was quite traumatic and may have contributed to her loss of control of her life and her obsession with animal welfare.

    Some of the stuff you threw out was seriously collectible though- you could have given eBay collectors an amazing opportunity to buy more ” stuff” for THEIR homes!

  • 18 Julia on February 1st, 2008, 01:55 AM

    Too bad about the translation – there were subtitles for the few lines that in the documentary, but I am curious to understand the entire song and online translation websites don’t really do the job. Oh well.

  • 19 B on February 1st, 2008, 05:29 AM

    From a self-confessed ‘messie’:

    Firstly I’d like to thank Thomas and Co. for making this documentary. I am a 35 yo ‘messie’ and I come from a long line of ‘messies’ (or ‘hoarders’ as I’ve come to describe us) . My mothers house is probably worse than the house on the documentary. She has filled her house, a double garage, a kids cubby house, empty aviary and has even hired a storage shed, at great expense, for her over-flowing ‘treasures’. She is 60 yo. Her father who is in his mid 80s is also a messie as was his father. My sister, 30 yo, has filled her house, garage and a storage shed and still has stuff at my mothers and her ex-husbands house. Her 8 yo daughter is also exhibiting hoarding behaviour. We grew up hiding when someone knocked on the door and never had friends over. It was a form of normal. I too am worried that her daughter, and mine, will be the next generation of ‘messies’. There are some thoughts it is genetic and other thoughts it may be training.

    Although I knew that I ‘collected’ and kept way too many treasures and things of ‘sentimental value’, I was also living under the belief that one day I would get organised. It wasn’t until I saw a British documentary on Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and Hoarding last year that I realised I have a problem. I sort psychological counselling the following day. Due to the severe anxiety suffered when throwing anything out (as it may be useful to someone, someday, if only I could keep it just in case ‘til then), I am now taking anti-anxiety medication (lexapro) and seeing a psychiatrist. The plan is to start ‘cognitive therapy’ as the behaviour is so ingrained. I have been unable to find an OCD support group dealing with hoarding in my city.

    I am lucky however that my husband is obsessively neat. It causes a huge amount of angst and fighting between us but at least it means our house is liveable and we are able to invite people in (although I still have a couple of rooms and a shed to sort out). When my mum goes on holidays I go to her house to feed a myriad of animals and am almost sick when I walk in the door. My daughter is 6 yo and I have never let her go to her grandmothers house, even though it is only 10 mins away, as I do not want her thinking it is normal or acceptable.

    I am a professional, well-educated, active member of the community and role model, as are my mother and sister. We all live in normal middle class suburban Australian suburbs. We take care of our appearance, engage in various social activities and have no problems making friends. No one would ever guess we all share this problem. Unfortunately I am the only person in my family who has acknowledged this and is seeking help, the rest are in denial and do not think there is anything wrong with their hoarding.

    Thanks again for the documentary, I am very glad you weren’t too embarrassed to show it as it was.


  • 20 Haemmerli on February 1st, 2008, 01:15 PM

    Thanks a lot for sharing your expereince! I really do strongly believe, that this is valuable in order to get an idea, what the problem is, and how it should be dealt with.

  • 21 rob on February 2nd, 2008, 03:20 AM

    i watched your documentry and wanted to thank you… i am going to clean up my house and vow never to hoard things. Although i may not have accumulated as much as your mother, your film has reminded me of how abundant things are in the western world and what is the point of wasting our time trying to get the latest gagets and things only to squirrel them away. why do we need so much stuff, for example in our kitchen we have a toaster, a griller, a sandwich maker, a waffle iron, a coffee grinder,coffee machine, a food processor, a small electric convection oven, hand held blender, blender, ice cream maker. Far too much… these are small appliances that we have bought and have hardly used.

    Simplify, live life and dont be so worried about material possessions!

    I have learnt an important lesson, thank you.

  • 22 W on February 3rd, 2008, 08:20 AM

    Great film guys. I look forward to the DVD release.

    Although not yet at the stage of your mother (I fear only because I haven’t had enough time!), it has made me aware of my own tendencies to hoard things for which I have no use.

  • 23 lauris on February 5th, 2008, 11:17 AM

    ‘A wasted life’ you call your mothers life. I watched in disbelief as you danced across her life, ridiculing all the things she held dear. Neither of you had been close to her or had extended a helping hand. In your documentary there was no warmth or love or caring – only callous disregard and contempt for the state her life had deteriorated to. Perhaps it would have been different if you weren’t so shallow and selfish.
    Yet in all the photos and films you both look happy and well cared for. You’ve made a nice profit out of her death. I think the ‘wasted life’ was wasted on you two. Shame on you both.

  • 24 Thomas Haemmerli (Author) on February 5th, 2008, 04:29 PM

    Dear Lauris, I do believe it was a wasted life. You acuse us:

    Neither of you had been close to her or had extended a helping hand.

    That is total bullshit. My brother saw her quite often. She lived during some time in his flat in munich. I was the one who was distanced. Still, as my brother I paid for her, when she had no money. And I agreed to a heritage with a debt of many million dollars, just to be able to buy her a rent.

    For the things we ridicule: One effect of death is that the worldly possessions that had a meaning to somebody particular will loose that meaning. And with the dead of our mother, all of a sudden, all these things were our things. It was our flat. We had to deal with it. This imposition is the departing point of my film.

    For the rest: When you make movies, you have to reduce. And you go for what is interesting. The two of us mourning is not very interesting, so I just have it in two short scenes. And I say it twice. As a swiss protestant, showing emotions is not my strong point.

    And: Because of Hollywood and TV-Shows we tend to be believe that only feelings that are expressed loudly are real. That is an error.

    One interesting thing in all the discussions I have: There are always people who do believe my mother was a lonely person, waiting for help.

    That is not the case. She had acquaintances and friends. She just never let them into her flat.

    She denied totally having any problem. I tried to fix her financial situation. She saw that as an interference with her autonomy.

    Please do read the other voices in the aussie-blog: People who deal with messies or are messies, often see the film in another light.

    And just for the


    sorry, but with documentaries you do not make a profit, not even a small one. Would I be looking out for profit I would do more advertising.

    And: In order to find any financing at all, I had to write an essay explaining why the film is ethically justified. I do believe it is not only justified, but it has a positive effect as well in trying to bring the hoarder-problem out of the dark. (You find more about it in the presskit.)

    For these reasons I have to reject your proposal to feel ashamed.

  • 25 Sandra on February 6th, 2008, 06:03 AM

    Thomas and fans,

    I’ve just received your DVD in Sydney, Australia bought and imported from your UK distributor.

    It displays perfectly on a large 40 inch screen, with little quality loss.

    So, if anyone reading this message is as enthusiastic as I am, there is no need to wait.

  • 26 Linda on February 6th, 2008, 06:10 AM

    Sandra, I would like to know how to purchase a copy of the dvd. I live in Sydney.

  • 27 Sandra on February 6th, 2008, 06:19 AM


    Request the 81 minute version.


  • 28 Chris on February 9th, 2008, 10:39 AM

    Hey Sandra,

    thanks for the Link http://www.journeyman.tc/?lid=57483

  • 29 Jolien on February 15th, 2008, 02:53 AM

    I’ve found something you guys will enjoy!!


  • 30 judy on February 23rd, 2008, 02:48 PM

    your mom not as bad as this lady:


  • 31 Anton on February 27th, 2008, 03:19 AM

    Great work.

    I note the negative comments above about your attitude to family – I don’t think that such criticism is warranted. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, and you dealt with it in your own way. I enjoyed the way you did so, so thanks.

    My wife is a hoarder and your program made her think where decades of this behaviour will end up. Together, we’ve both thrown out about 8 cubic metres of stuff since watching.

    Best wishes to you and your brother.

  • 32 sven on March 16th, 2008, 01:16 PM

    I was laughing and crying. greetz from switzerland

  • 33 Anna on March 18th, 2008, 09:18 PM

    Yes , that is a good achievement, my congratultions!

  • 34 Ruthie on March 18th, 2008, 11:39 PM

    My mother was a hoarder, and I understand the awfulness of the inheritance you faced. As much as I loved her, I also hated that she made it clear that material possessions were more important to her than her own children. In our teen years, my sister and I were crowded out by stacks of newspapers – LITERALLY no place to sleep, cook, eat, study but the backyard. My sister had to live with friends in high school because there was no heat or running water, because Mama wouldn’t let repairmen in (even if they had gotten in, I doubt they would have been able to wade through the newspapers to fix things). After Mama died, my sister and I got through the cleaning ordeal with gallows humor, sturdy shovels, and the support of good friends.

    I admire your courage to show the world what you went through, and wish you strength as you deal with ignorant attacks from people who do not understand what you went through. If your mother was an alcoholic or sexual predator, no one would be saying you were an awful person for showing how that affected your life, or for not having been in her home in a long time. Folks who are not related to hoarders may not understand the burden that children of hoarders have to deal with.

    Thank you.

  • 35 Sandra on March 19th, 2008, 01:30 AM


    That is a beautiful, caring message.

    I re-ran the DVD this week, and laughed even harder this time. The look on Thomas’ face at the end when he found another store room is priceless.


  • 36 David on March 19th, 2008, 09:06 AM


    The images, facts, insights, and reflections from watching your documentary may have a positive impact for countless families who are impacted by hoarding. The comments you have already received are evidence of that. It is an incredibly brave thing to share with the world something so personal and tragic.

    Good on ya.

    P.S. Have you made any connections with online support groups for hoarding elsewhere in the world?

  • 37 Simon on March 22nd, 2008, 11:15 PM

    Thanks for a compelling doco, from someone who spent months digging and sorting through the layers of my father’s life in objects. As a bit of a hoarder myself, it made me look critically at the stuff I’ve accumulated over time (though I still winced at all the potentially collectable stuff you boys were chucking into the dumper bins!) I loved the home movie footage you showed throughout your doco – some years ago, a friend found a shoebox full of home movie reel footage, shot over some 20 years, from his birthplace Amsterdam to his family emigrating to Australia. It’s transferred now to DVD, and the copy he gave me is one of my most treasured possessions. I hope you boys take similar care of the filmed record of your childhoods. Of course I will search for a copy of your documentary – for anyone with ageing or departed parents, it made for very touching and thought-provoking viewing.

  • 38 Marry on March 24th, 2008, 10:13 PM

    Very intersting doco!! I think the facts and pictures speak for them self! I want to show the doco to a few good friends next week. I think they will like it to see!

  • 39 Tomas on March 27th, 2008, 04:26 PM

    they have achieved it and now a big party should be done!

  • 40 Lilly on March 28th, 2008, 09:15 PM

    I have see the doco, too. I have laugting and crying. Thats the real life. i think something like that musst often show on TV.

  • 41 Dunja on July 14th, 2008, 04:13 PM

    @Ruthie: (From Germany): It is incredible to compare a hoarder with a sexual predator. Besides, the mother was not a hoarder during childhood and adolescence of the author and his brother.

  • 42 Betty on March 4th, 2009, 05:43 AM

    I watched the documentary last night. I am in Florida, USA. I was glued to my chair the whole time. Perhaps I ought not respond to this blog because it is an Aussie one, and I am not an Aussie. But I just really did want to have my say.
    I just got done reading a lot of comments on the blog and am saddened by the knee jerk responses of one or two. Some think they know it all, but they don’t have a clue.
    The part about being “close” to a parent, and so forth: parents live their own lives and only allow the offspring to intrude to a certain extent. My mother was very protective of her financial information and also of her medical info. The offspring cannot force themselves on the parent. They love us, and we love them; but there are boundaries, and they (not us) set those boundaries. Unless you want a nasty legal fight (very expensive too), no matter how much you want to help the parent, your hands are tied. I tried to go in and clean my Mothers’ house and was told bluntly that I was not allowed to touch anything, “You don’t live here; I do.” She owned her house, I had no right to clean it for her. After her death, there were a couple of people who thought of me as uncaring and so forth because her house was in such bad shape.
    I took her flowers and gifts often, but I didn’t help her clean her house because she was very possessive of her stuff and it was her stuff, not mine.

    You stated, “And with the dead (death) of our mother, all of a sudden, all these things were our things. It was our flat. We had to deal with it.” How true that is: I just got done going through all my Mamas’ house and we are cleaning and repairing it right now. Anybody who has not been through this ordeal (and my Mother was a very neat person, her spouse was the pack rat) but, even so, it is a very painful experience. Some of us do not cry and carry on in public, we do our crying at home alone, that is not something that we wish to be on public display. Just because those very personal and very private moments were not openly displayed on your documentary is not license for others to point fingers concerning lack of remorse or not caring.

    Also you said, “As a swiss protestant, showing emotions is not my strong point.” I can add that my husband is of German descent and he NEVER shows his emotions. Some people simply don’t. That is not because they do not feel just as much as anyone else, it is simply the make up of the person and often that make up carries far down the line of descent. As far back into my husbands’ family as I could look, none of them outwardly showed their emotions.

    You have absolutely no reason for shame. Your documentary is a testimony to your strength and perseverance. Your documentary is an opportunity for others to begin to see the problems so they can be dealt with by the countless others who either are having the problem or have a dear friend or loved one who is experiencing the problem: whether it is called hoarding, messie, or any other term.

    We are currently having to move tons of steel and other metals and old junker vehicles and boats off of 2 acres of land and out of two each 2-car garages; both of which are packed almost air tight with all that junk. Because my mothers’ boyfriend was a hoarder and Mama had alzheimers’ disease and refused to see a doctor. You cannot force an adult to see a doctor if they refuse to do so.

    My hat is off to you for making the documentary.

    Enough said.


  • 43 Elisabeth on August 11th, 2009, 06:44 AM

    Just watched your doco on SBS. Wow. What a maelstrom of feelings!

    I think it is very sad that your Mother chose to live her life in such a manner. What a horrible legacy left for you to deal with. I think you dealt with it all with great aplomb.

    Thank you for showing this very personal event.

  • 44 Steve on August 11th, 2009, 06:50 AM

    What a profound and provocative piece, totally mesmerising and a superbly put together piece of insight. How a successful and attractive socialite of the sixties can become a clutter obsessive recluse dying alone is a strange wonder. The fact that almost the same fate claimed her mother is even more interesting.

    The entry that tied the small derelict boat in the garden to the almost hedonistic days in the south of France parodied the same connection between a dead corpse and the images of her rowing the same boat, healthy and attractive in the sixties.

    A masterpiece of introspective examination, I really enjoyed it. Ironically it will serve to honour the memory of your mother, a wasted life , no, if two boys and a thought provoking film are all that she lived her life for her life was not wasted at all, a wasted end yes. Very sad.

    A confronting and brilliant story.

    Steve (Melbourne Australia)

  • 45 ulli on August 14th, 2009, 09:57 AM

    It’s a rare pleasure indeed to see a Swiss film on Australian free-to-air television and, especially so when it deals so openly and compellingly with such a personal yet universal topic. Although the story could have unfolded anywhere, as a Zurich-born expat, I found the Swiss dialect and your easy switches between languages drew me even more intimately into the dramatic events. A fascinating, disturbing, sad, amusing and ultimately profoundly illuminating and touching family saga. Thank you both for sharing your amazing story. And may I add a final, rather personal comment? The way you have come to terms with your mother’s sad afffliction and shocking demise would indicate to me you need not fear for your own futures.

  • 46 Isabelle Hockings on August 14th, 2009, 04:53 PM

    Although I missed the begining, this is the first time I have found myself directing comments like “You f-ing arseholes!” …at the TV.
    Your childhood movies showed what spoilt kids you were. Your mother deserved respect.
    Good editing captured the sense of mindless destruction.
    You filmed your trauma, and I do appreciate your sharing your experience, as many have gone through similar situations.
    I have myself, with a Belgian mother who also endured the deprivations of the War, and also tended towards collect-aholism. I put much more effort into recycling, when my Mum died.
    This film was a good depiction of how families go wrong, and a good lesson for all of us: to be prepared for death, as some poor person is going to have to deal with ALL our stuff. I actually found it devastating, emotionally, as I can just see my son being as callous and disrespectful and distant as that!

  • 47 Isabelle Hockings on August 15th, 2009, 09:11 PM

    I read your earlier response to somone saying “Shame on you..”, and although I think you should be proud of your courage and creativity,… I take offence to your saying that your mother’s life “was a wasted existance.”
    Firstly, who are you to judge? How will you know when someone is NOT having a “wasted existance”? When they can make a movie, justifying what they’ve done?
    Who are you to judge the woman who gave birth to you and your brother, and risked her life, in doing so, …as having had a “wasted existence”?
    Was changing your nappies, wiping your nose when you couldn’t do so yourself, providing for you, for decades, and loving your unfaithful father, ….what made her life such garbage?

  • 48 Thomas Haemmerli (Author) on August 17th, 2009, 02:08 PM

    Dear Isabelle Hockings
    Number one: If somebody is taking offence I don’t give a toss! I do believe that rational debates in our societies is getting more and more difficult, because religious lunatics, sensitive natures or moralistic entities take offense in something somebody is saying.
    To your question, why I do believe I think I am entitled to judge? Well, you could ask this question yourself:; Why are you entitled to judge about me? My response would be, we all are entitled to judge about almost everything in the world. Without that we would have no debate.
    What concerns the “love for the unfaithful father”, why do you know she did love him? They both wanted the divorce. And besides: My mother was unfaithful too.
    And if you ask : “Who are you to judge the woman that gave birth, was changing nappies” and so on, what has that to do with it. I didn’t asked to be born anyhow. My brother and me paid for our mother and did quite a lot to get her life on tracks. We accepted an inheritance that we would probaby not have taken otherwise. Today I will have another meeting with my brother and a lawyer cause we still have to dill with all the legal mess that both our parents left us behind.
    And: After my brother and me paid for her living costs, our mother was thinking about suing us.
    So, if the nappy-argument would be any-good, I would counter it, with our caring for her, and ask you: How do you believe that I could not have an opinion on her and her life.
    Last: I do not know whether you saw the 83 or the 50 minute version of the film. In both cases, making film allways means, you have to leave many things out. Having read all the documents, the letters and so on, I know quite a lot about the life of my mother, and I would still say: In many ways it was wasted.

  • 49 Isabelle Hockings on August 27th, 2009, 04:04 PM

    I value compassion and understanding, particularly for women, the elderly and people with mental illness. I hope you find more of these things, somewhere in the material mess, that you inherited.

    I am curious to know still, how you know that your life is NOT a wasted existence …and contrastingly, how you know hers was …? Apart from that she raised ungrateful, judgmental sons like you?

    From what I know of the Swiss psyche, “order” is of paramount importance. A Swiss friend explained: “if his underwear was not neatly folded in his drawers … a Swiss man could not sleep at night!”

    The choas that accompanies the degeneration of a person ageing, when the person loses the ability to maintain their accumulated possessions, was very culturally offensive to you, not just diffficult to deal with.

    I think it was Neiche who said we should wish hardship on the ones we love, as it only through facing such challenges that we develop strength of character.

    The aspects of your mother that you had contempt for, are probably things that you see in yourself …and are turning away from: Not just the feminine, but the materialism and the chaos, …and the sentimentality that motivated her to try to hold onto so many momentos and things that she hoped may be useful one day.

    There is definitely a genetic component to the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder she suffered from. You’ll see it surface again.
    And I wouldn’t expect you to give “a toss”.
    Bless you for exposing yourself and your Mum’s vaginal warts in such a candid manner!

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