December 2019

Here in Switzerland, the Dobbertin family is settling down for Christmas, and as always, we like to reflect on our year. I (Marie) will start by telling you about where I was last December…

My high school here in Switzerland encourages students to do a year abroad, so just like Hannah had done three years prior, I spent my 11th schoolyear away from home. I lived in West Vancouver, Canada, where I enjoyed the beautiful ocean view, the exciting big-city atmosphere and the gorgeous coastal mountains.

aabfb46b-b7f1-4057-8fa8-4447501c95bfI attended West Vancouver Secondary School alongside approximately 200 other international students, so I got to meet people from around the world, as well as a lot of friendly Canadians. I was also very lucky to be living with John and Jill, who are dear friends of my parents. I felt right at home with them and their two dogs.

Since my curriculum was less stressful than back home, I had plenty of time for playing in my school orchestra, in the annual theatre performance and in the senior girls’ rugby team in spring. To learn this exciting sport and to be part of a team of so many strong young women was probably the highlight of my year. Sadly, the season was cut a bit short for me when I broke my leg in one of our tournaments in April. However, I still made the most out of my time in Canada, regardlessb952f805-a66f-41f7-a924-d4bd10038565 of the crutches.

Saying goodbye to all the people I met there was very difficult, especially when it came to leaving my incredible host family. Luckily, I will be visiting them again in January for two weeks.

I’ve been back for more than five months now and am in my second to last year of high school. I still play the violin and have started taking electric guitar lesson. Beside music, school is taking up most of my time now, but it is good practice for university in 2021/2022.



„Carpe diem – seize the day, boys“, Professor Keating says to his students in „Dead Poets Society“, one of my favorite movies. And that is exactly what I have been doing this past year.

My dream of going to an excellent film school in Munich, Germany, was put on halt after the second round of entrance exams, when the jury recommended to me to reapply after gaining some more „life and film experience“. So I have been experiencing.

Filmflyer-Trauerreden-A2I finished my second half-hour-long short film about a young grieving girl, “Eulogies”. Currently, I am working my way through different jobs, from being a driver on a music video shooting set with the best Swiss cameraman to directing my first ad for the company in Lucerne I‘m now working for. On every set, I get to know new people, and new opportunities arise. My weeks are now packed with exciting shoots in empty houses, at moonlit lakeshores and on mountaintops.

As for life besides filmmaking, I think that travelling through Canada and Alaska and dodging a couple of bears along the way definitely count as seizing the day.


Filming on the Jungfraujoch

In September, my crew of 10 friends and I rented a house on the Spanish island of Fuerteventura for two weeks and went on a couple of climbing, snorkeling and waterskiing adventures.

You might hear it between the lines: The day-seizing has been working out quite well for me. And if you‘re looking for some inspiration for your 2020, how about visiting my website and watch the New Year‘s film I just finished making.



2019 has offered me many reasons to be grateful. First of all, it was yet another year without major health issues in our household and in our close circle of relatives. Marie’s leg healed well and in time for her to enjoy our summer vacation.

In May, Julia – my friend from Santa Fe – and I cruised through southern France on the footsteps of Van Gogh, Cézanne and Picasso. More art history and less birdwatching: quite a paradigm shift from average Dobbertin trips!

My trip to Vancouver in June brought three long-awaited highlights: Marie and I were reunited after 11 months, I got to see Jill and John again and to spend two weeks packed with good talks and laughter at their place, and finally, after Hannah joined us, the three Dobbertins went on to explore Vancouver Island, Yukon and Alaska for a month.

Denali National Park: South Peak

Denali National Park: South Peak

Ever since I hiked the historical stampeders’ Chilkoot Trail in Alaska in 1991, I had dreamed of returning to this part of the world. The 4- to 5-day hike would have been too strenuous for the girls and me,  but no regrets, because our road trip from Whitehorse to Anchorage was way better than in my dreams.

Despite all the reading I had done to prepare this vacation, I hadn’t expected to be so enthralled by Yukon. The pioneer spirit is tangible in small communities like Haines Junction, Dawson City and even Whitehorse with its mere 25,000 inhabitants – that’s two thirds of the population of Yukon! Just like Santa Fe in 2012, it felt like home. In another life I would apply for immigration and get retired there!

Jobwise, an unexpected opportunity arose lately: From 2020 on, I will develop outreach activities for the research program launched by Matthias’ successor. I am looking forward to working again with my old “family” at our institute.

As you can tell, the three of us keep ourselves nice and busy. Spending an evening all together has become a rare treat that we always appreciate as such.

We hope this letter finds you in good health and spirit. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year and would love to hear from you.

Here a few links:

  • Our year 2019 in pictures (slide show, 5’28”)
  • “Follow your dreams”, Hannah’s newest ultra short film (December 2019)
  • Hannah’s Homepage with links to her two newest micro short films: Switch (3’43”) and Disconnected (1’12”), and the trailer of her 2019 short film Eulogies. As for the micro short film shot on the Top of Europe earlier in December, it will be online on December 24.


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