Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse
Seven dumpsters and a corpse.jpg
Directed by Thomas Haemmerli
Produced by Mirjam von Arx
Music by Adrian Frutiger, Alexander T. Fähndrich
Cinematography Thomas Haemmerli, Ariane Kessissoglou, Erik Haemmerli
Edited by Daniel Cherbuin
Distributed by Frenetic
Release date
Running time
84 minutes
Country Switzerland / Germany
Language German / Swiss German

Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse is a documentary film (2007) by Swiss journalist Thomas Haemmerli (de).


Thomas Haemmerli is about to celebrate his fortieth birthday when he learns of his mother's death. A further shock follows when he and his brother Erik discover her apartment, which is filthy and full to bursting with junk. It takes the brothers an entire month to clean out the place. Among the chaos, they find films going back to the 1930s, photos and other memorabilia.

Two opposing storylines developed out of the film material. On the one hand, there is the struggle against chaos, during which the apartment becomes increasingly empty and clean. On the other hand, there is the story of the family, which becomes increasingly confusing.

The film deals intensively with compulsive hoarding.


Thomas Haemmerli is a Swiss TV journalist. On March 8, 2004, when he received the ominous phone call from Zurich's criminal police department which launched one of the most harrowing weeks of his life, Haemmerli reacted the way he was used to: he took out his camera and started shooting. It came out of 30 hours of DV footage which Haemmerli intended to turn into a short film "which we might be able to show our friends".

My brother and I had suspected the apartment would be in disorder. But what we found exceeded our worst expectations. Like most "Messies" my mother would do anything to make sure no one ever saw the inside of her home. It took us an entire month to clean out the apartment, and we had to work our way through mountains of things. We unearthed a lot of documents about our family history, including photos going back to the 1880s, film footage from the 30s and 40s, and all the home movies my mother shot from the 1960s onward. This precious material – roughly seventy years of an unusual family history – became the first impulse for making a film. And the possibility of filming in the apartment, without interference from relatives.[1]
- Thomas Haemmerli, Director
I detest films conceived as therapy for their maker. I believe films should be made to tell a story, not as self-help for the filmmaker.[1]
- Thomas Haemmerli, Director


Young Kofi Annan makes an appearance in the documentary as he had been invited to the wedding of Haemmerli's parents.

Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse obtained a film subsidy of CHF 90'000 (about $75,000 USD) from Zurich's film foundation in 2006.[2]

International release[edit]

The first release of Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse outside of Switzerland was at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, April 2007, in Toronto.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Thomas Haemmerli: Director's Statement
  2. ^ Zürcher Filmstiftung: Fachkommission Dokumentarfilm: alle unterstützten Projekte 2006

External links[edit]