The story of Austro-Argentine psychoanalyst Marie Langer highlights the difficulty of reconciling a ‘psy’ vocation with political activism. Twice an emigrée, Langer brought the critical tools of psychoanalysis to the social and individual problems of her time. This film documents her journeys across different continents and ideological regimes with the help of those who knew her and those who followed in her footsteps.

Lily Ford
Production Date


In 1971, psychoanalyst Marie Langer broke rank with the local and international associations that governed her profession. She was in profound disagreement with their policy of political neutrality at a time when a right-wing regime was prevailing in her adoptive home of Argentina. Marie Langer’s social commitment was informed not just by her politics but also by her practice, as a pioneer of group therapy and as one of the first to examine the psychoanalytic problems of women in the 1950s. Her stance in the early 1970s ultimately forced her into a second exile.

This film looks at the journey of this remarkable woman, born in Austria but active in civil war Spain, and later, revolutionary Nicaragua. Using fragments of audio and video, and conversations with historians, analysts and her children, it charts a course across continents and through the shifts in Langer’s own thinking to present a portrait of a psy professional prepared to take a stand.

About the filmmaker

Lily Ford is a historian and filmmaker based in London. She teaches and produces with the Derek Jarman Lab at Birkbeck, University of London. Her illustrated history of flight, Taking to the Air, was published in 2018. She wrote, directed and produced A Humbrol Art (2018), a short film about the painter George Shaw, and she produced the feature documentary The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger, with Tilda Swinton et al, in 2016. This is the first feature documentary she has directed.

Read the director’s statement by Lily Ford on the Hidden Persuaders blog

Cast & Crew

Voice: Lily Ford

Music: Santiago Cumplido

Translation (Spanish version): Maria Eloisa Susco

Interviewees: Mariano Ben Plotkin, Claudia Borensztejn, Marcela Bouteiller, Catalina Bronstein, Alejandro Dagfal, Ursula Hauser, Alicia Lagarrigue, Tomás Langer, Verónica Langer, Martín Manzanares, Virginia Ungar, Hugo Vezzetti

Selected Sources

Freud in the Pampas by Mariano Ben Plotkin, 2001

Uprooted Minds: Surviving the Politics of Terror in the Americas by Nancy Caro Hollander, 2010

Mimi & Els: Stationen einer Freundschaft by Karl Fallend, 2019

Cuestionamos ed. Marie Langer, 1971

Cuestionamos II ed. Marie Langer, 1973

From Vienna to Managua: Journey of a Psychoanalyst by Marie Langer et al., trans. M. Hooks, 1989

Motherhood and Sexuality by Marie Langer, trans. and with introduction by Nancy Caro Hollander, 1992