L'Ombrello di Beatocello
Switzerland, 82 min
Over a period of 20 years, the Swiss paediatrician and cellist Beat Richner, alias “Beatocello”, has opened five children’s hospitals in Cambodia: ultramodern facilities that have saved thousands of lives. The film closely follows the career of this exceptional man, mixing personal account with archive material. A portrait which fleshes out the daily life and work of this visionary “utopia-builder”.
Over 20 years, the Swiss paediatrician Beat Richner has opened five children’s hospitals in Cambodia: ultramodern facilities that have saved thousands of lives. Since 1996, filmmaker Georges Gachot has supported Richner in this venture, devoting a number of documentaries to him and his work. Here, he returns again to the career of this eccentric doctor, cellist and draughtsman, who in the 1970s preached love in the streets of Zurich in the guise of a cabaret character called “Beatocello”. Using library footage, personal accounts and the doctor’s own comments, the film paints an impressionistic portrait of this utopian artist turned hospital builder. Getting as close as possible to his subject, Gachot illustrates the daily work of Richner and his teams, placing it sensitively in the context of the country’s extreme poverty. One day, viewing some old reels, the Cambodian doctors come across the young and idealistic face of their mentor: a moving sequence which shows just how far they have all come…
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