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“You are the director of your own life”

Dominik Rüedi is living his dream – as TV director, with the award-winning movie “Schwerelos” and the documentary “Swiss Ladies”

“Dreams are thoughts captured in movies”. This quote from Thomas Häntsch applies perfectly to Dominik Rüedi. Because for him it has always been clear: I will become a film producer! Already as a boy he produced short “James Bond movies”. His big dream became his mission – also as a wheelchair user.

Today the 25-year-old is not only director, producer and editor but his name is known internationally in the movie industry. With his story he wants to encourage others to fight for their dreams – no matter which obstacles you are facing on your journey.

A star is born …

No, success was not a gift for Dominik Rüedi. He was born in the Canton of Thurgau and grew up as a single child living a “very normal childhood”. Until his 16th year of life. Due to a very rare disease called myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord), Dominik has been dependent on his wheelchair since 2015. “For my parents and friends, it was a shock. But they have realized that I am making the best of it.”

“Living in a wheelchair has changed me – but in a positive way: I have become more mature, profound and open toward others. Also, I live more consciously and am more grateful.”

Dominik Rüedi

He also owes this optimism to Marcel Hug. The professional athlete visited Dominik’s class when he was about twelve years old. “This experience had a great impact on me. He’s a badass! His life and successes have made a real impression on me.” Through his rehab at Swiss Paraplegic Centre and his new place of residence, Nottwil, Dominik sees the multiple world champion and winner of the Paralympics now regularly. “Still today Marcel is a strong inspiration for me, last but not least due to his pleasant and laid-back nature.”

In the centre, Dominik Rüedi is shown from the back. He wears a light-grey hoodie, a red backpack attached to his wheelchair. He is on a hill and watches the scenery of mountains, valleys and lakes.

Although Dominik Rüedi has been in a wheelchair since 2015, he has big dreams. With his motivation, he wants to encourage others to live their own dreams.

“Why don’t you sign up for commercial business training”

His social environment urged Dominik to give up his dream of becoming a film producer. “Everybody was of the opinion that I could not work as a film producer being a wheelchair user.” However, sticking to his motto “Live your dream” he proved them wrong and graduated in Digital Film Production from the SAE Institute in Zurich.

This allowed him to do an internship as photo and video producer at the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation in Nottwil, which resulted in a permanent position as project team member for Video Productions. Among other things, he was also involved in the shooting of “Beacons of Hope”.

“It is important to believe in yourself. Without my condition and wheelchair, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I believe this has made me stronger and opened the door to the movie industry for me.”

Dominik Rüedi

Dominik the “maker” has gained further professional experience as intern in the production and post-production with Sandeep Abraham. Since April 2023, he works on a 60 percent basis as director for CH Media. There he produces for the regional channels TVO and Tele Bärn news and talk shows such as “Stammtisch” (EN: regulars' table) or “Geld” (EN: money).

Jobs that require creativity need inspiration: “For me Avatar is the coolest movie ever! It contains important topics such as disability and mindful dealing with nature.” And role models? “Definitely Steven Spielberg and James Cameron.”

Movies by and with Dominik Rüedi

  • 2019: “Die Rollstuhlgängigkeit der öffentlichen Verkehrsmittel in der Schweiz” (EN: The wheelchair accessibility of public transportation in Switzerland) – pre-production, direction, main protagonist, post production
  • 2019: “All I want” – direction, 2nd camera, post-production
  • 2020: “Schwerelos” (EN: weightless) – pre-production, direction, cut, evaluation
  • 2020: “Leben und Liebe auf der Gasse” (EN: Life and love in the alley) – production assistant
  • 2022: “Catfish” – set runner

From head cinema to the big screen

The result of his post-secondary graduation project was the movie “Schwerelos”. The story is about Paul who is processing the death of his mother. Although he has recently become dependent on a wheelchair, he wants to fulfil his mother’s last wish: To spread her ashes on her favourite mountain, Monte Lema. Together with his basketball buddy Tim, Paul accepts this seemingly futile endeavour. The two of them undertake an adventurous trip to Ticino – and right to their own selves. Here the link to the movie “Schwerelos” in full length (in German with English subtitles).

With the movie “Schwerelos” I want to draw attention to the topic of paraplegia and give hope to affected people: so that they can believe in something that seems impossible.”

Dominik Rüedi

Whether this story is also a way of dealing with his own experiences? “Yes, that was certainly the case back then”, says Dominik. “For example, the scene at the doctor I have experienced myself the same way.” The young movie producer is especially proud that his first movie accomplishment was supported by professionals: for example by protagonist Sandro Stocker, by co-producer and director of photography Sandeep Abraham or by Marius Bear, who accentuated the movie with his song “Remember me”. No wonder the work caused a sensation in the movie world.

Awards and prizes for the movie “Schwerelos”

  • 2020: New York Film Awards – Best Narrative Short
  • 2020: New York Film Awards – Best First Time Director
  • 2020: New York Film Awards – Best Inspirational Film
  • 2020: Hollywood Gold Awards – Original Story
  • 2020: Indie Short Fest – Best Student Drama Short
  • 2021: Great Message International Film Festival – Best Editor
  • 2021: Film in Focus 2021 – Best Student Film
  • 2021: Europe Film Festival – Best Drama Film
  • 2021: Entr`2 Marches, Cannes – Prix du Public «Georges Lautner»
  • 2021: Best Actor Award, New York – Best Actor in a Drama
  • 2021: Best Actor Award, New York – Best Actor in an Inspirational Film
  • 2022: Jugendfilm Festival Movie Day – Adon Special Price
  • 2022: Jugendfilm Festival Movie Day – Audience Award

“The awards mean the world to me! They are the reward for the hard work the whole crew has put into it.” However, Dominik did not only have to earn the fame at the movie set during uncountable unpaid hours of work and the search for sponsors. After he went – alone, by the way, – to Cannes for the award ceremony, burglars broke the window of his car so that he was unable to accept the audience award personally. “Well, I was there”, says the optimist smilingly. “The ward arrived by mail. Important was only that I was able to show the movie.”

All the more, Dominik remembers the moment on the red carpet at the Zurich Film Festival where also Guido A. Zäch congratulated him. Who knows, maybe there will even be an Oscar added to the list one day? “That’s admittedly in a very distant future. But it would be amazing, therefore never say never...!”

Dominik Rüedi in a suit in front of an orange wall with flowers in the background. He has a microphone in his hand and is interviewed by a blond, elegant woman.

Dominik Rüedi being interviewed about his movie “Schwerelos” at the Zurich Film Festival.

“Of course, it’s not always easy for me as film producer. But I want to show others what’s possible. Whether with or without wheelchair: Often it’s about being ambitious and organized.”

Dominik Rüedi

Basketball: from hobby to documentary show

The pandemic was particularly challenging for Dominik. “Every day I had to focus deliberately on the positive. During that time, basketball helped me enormously.” The team was like his second family. “We support each other, exchange ideas and motivate each other.” Since 2016, Dominik is member of the Rolling Rebels team from St. Gallen and since 2022 he is part of the extended squad of the national team. “If things go well, I’ll also be on tour starting next year.”

Wheelchair users dressed in white and red playing basketball in a gym. Dominik Rüedi is just about to pass the ball to a teammate. From behind, two more basketball players can be seen and, in the background, a young woman and a man with a cap are watching, both wheelchair users.

For Dominik Rüedi basketball is not only a sport or hobby but it also motivates him in daily life and creates a team spirit.

The idea for his current project was created during a training session. “My coach Christian Rosenberger mentioned how amazing it would be to document the history of the first Swiss Women’s National team in wheelchair basketball. I immediately loved the idea!”

Swiss Ladies: Lighthouse project for women in disabled sport

Eliane Keller and Christian Rosenberger founded the Swiss Women’s Basketball National Team “Swiss Ladies” in 2019 – a novelty for the Swiss wheelchair sport. Today 13 players between 16 and 50 years old are dreaded opponents during competitions. Their next goal: participating in the European Championship 2025.

What was planned to be a movie has now grown into a documentary show. And the “Swiss Ladies” team is growing and developing as well. “The intense team spirit of the ‘Ladies’ impresses me enormously.”

The director and producer profiles players and staff during their trainings and competitions all over Europe. Dominik’s notably beautiful eyes are beaming: “Of course, it’s a lot of commitment, in addition to my irregular work hours. But I enjoy it a lot and I get to see a lot of the world.”

The documentary, however, also shows its downsides. “One player passed away during the training weekend in Annecy – this is very difficult for us all.”

Spectators sitting in red cinema seats, the wall in the background is colourfully lit, Dominik Rüedi has a microphone in his hand. Above him a big picture that shows the women’s national team, and below it says in German, “Welcome to the movie premiere Heroes on Wheels”.

Movie premiere: On November 11, 2023, Dominik Rüedi presented the prologue of his documentary series “Swiss Ladies – heroes on wheels” to a selected audience in Lucerne.

“My goal with this documentary series is to draw even more attention to women’s sport and sports opportunities for disabled people.”

Dominik Rüedi

This is by far not the end for Dominik. At some point in the future, he wants to accompany a big event, for example a European Championship, World Championship or the Paralympics. And maybe a documentary with Marcel Hug? The ambitious film maker considers: “Sometimes I ask myself how I get it all done – my job, playing basketball and movie production... I just do it.”

And which (film worthy) dreams do you want to make come true?
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