Enjoy this wonderful version of the timeless classic, Heidi, at the Kansas City FilmFest sponsored by Embassy of Switzerland in the United States of America and Kansas City’s own Andre’s Confiserie Suisse.

With some 50 million copies in print, Johanna Spyri’s Heidi is probably the biggest Swiss bestseller of all time. So it’s not a surprise there have been many film adaptations, ranging from a 1937 Shirley Temple vehicle to countless other live-action and animated incarnations, including several Japanese anime films and even a Hanna-Barbera-produced feature. The latest to join the ranks, directed by Zurich-born director Alain Gsponer, is a live-action, German-language feature that’s simply titled Heidi as well.

Gsponer’s incarnation, written for the screen by Italo-Swiss screenwriter Petra Biondina Volpe,follows the basic structure of the 1881 novel as it follows 5-year-old orphan and curly brunette Heidi (cute yet down-to-earth Anuk Steffen, actually 10 when the film was shot). She’s shipped off by her stern aunt, Dete (Anna Schinz), to her grumpy, don’t-waste-any-words grandfather (Ganz), who lives alone in a small cabin high up in the Swiss Alps. To say he’s not pleased to see his solitary routine in the tranquil mountain air upset by a curious little girl who needs looking after is an understatement. But even for those who’ve not read the book,  it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the winsome little girl will soon manage to melt Granddad’s icy little Alpine heart.

Yet, Heidi is whisked off again to worldly Frankfurt, where her aunt Dete has found her a place in a very chic household as a companion to a wheelchair-bound child, Klara (Isabelle Ottmann), who doesn’t get out much. As in the novel, the pic plays Heidi’s initial fish-out-of-the-water situation for comedy, since, as a rough-and-tumble county girl, she has no idea about things as basic as cutlery or clean clothes. Heidi’s appealing nature and good heart wins over everyone in Klara’s household though Heidi becomes homesick for the mountains and her grandfather.  As in other adaptions of the story, a happy ending will prevail.

Adapted From the Hollywood Reporter 

For director Alain Gsponer it is a “A story about breaking away from the confinement and constrictions that one is forced into and about the search for a place that one can develop in is timeless in my eyes. How often are people forced into a place where they don’t want to be, determined by other people and social regulations? That is always relevant.”

Bruno Ganz (Grandfather) also has an explanation for the timelessness of the material: “Johanna Spyri hit upon a few central points in ‘Heidi’ that clearly move people in very different parts of the world. It is basically the search for a home, an identity, or to put it in a more modern way, the search for a place where you can be yourself and where you like to be, a place where you can find fulfilment.”

– Daniel Dercksen, The Writing Studio