Naima

A feature length documentary by Anna Thommen

A 45-year-old dark-skinned migrant working at the cash register in the canteen – no one suspects that Naima successfully completed a marketing degree in Venezuela and ran a hotel on the Caribbean coast.  After years of low-paying jobs, she wants to take her last chance to establish herself in Switzerland professionally and begins training as a nurse in psychiatry.

In her first internship, Naima is confronted with life stories that are not unfamiliar to her. Naima, too, had once been stationed in a psychiatric ward because, in her state of desperation, she wanted to take her own life. Naima’s past as a newly arrived migrant in Switzerland comes to light in fragmented pieces. 15 years ago, to cope with poverty, she gave both of her children to her Swiss ex-husband – and has been struggling to win them back ever since.

The stage is set anew when the children have to move out of their father’s house. While the older Leyla looks for a shared apartment, the 17-year-old transsexual Luke moves in with Naima. This is also a last chance for Naima to once again intensively care for her children as a mother before they go their own ways.

The contrast between Naima’s role as a student and her role as a mother and middle-aged woman is stark. While Naima is slowly entering into her menopause, her mother is reaching a frailer age, and her children are making more and more financial demands, Naima, as an intern, is at the bottom of the hierarchy in the clinic. Naima’s fear of failure grows, the more critically her young trainer looks over her shoulders.

The meager training allowances are already not enough to support her and Luke, and when Naima’s mother moves in with her as well, Naima comes under massive pressure to take care of her family and her training at the same time. The road to integration is rocky, but Naima does not let herself be stopped as she finally wants to be recognized as a full member of society.