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Sarah Wessendorf Nails Her Mark as Hannah in "Gone"

Sarah Wessendorf

Actress Sarah Wessendorf shot by Sara Valentino

Hailing from Hamburg, Germany actress Sarah Wessendorf has a unique skill when it comes to taking on challenging and multi-layered characters. Last year she proved the vast nature of her talent and her emotional range as an actress through her lead role in the film “CPH,” which was nominated for the Best Picture Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival; and this year she’s done it again with her starring performance in the film “Gone.”

Written and directed by Judith Schöll, “Gone” follows a group of women who travel to Croatia to attend a retreat where they hope to heal their past wounds and reach some form of enlightenment.

Wessendorf explains, “Every woman comes there with different motives and different expectations. Some are more skeptical than others, while others come with the belief that they are already pretty far ahead in their journey of enlightenment and healing.”

With people traveling far and wide to attend spiritual retreats around the world today, and many of them being led by the search for some sort of quick fix for their problems, “Gone” brings to the screen a story that is both relatable and eye-opening.

Chosen as an Official Selection of the Pula Film Festival and Ljubljana International Film Festival where it screened earlier this year, “Gone” dives below the surface of what it means to be truly spiritual and exposes the challenges that come along with real healing.

“I think it is very important to strengthen the support we have for each other as women, and as humans in general. The human experience isn’t always an easy one. I find it extremely important that we

learn to become more compassionate towards each other and towards ourselves,” says Wessendorf. “This movie shows that at the end honesty and acceptance of the not so pretty sides of growth needs to be present in order for actual transformation to take place. And we need each other for support.”

For Wessendorf, who plays the lead role of Hannah, a Buddhist woman from Germany who believes she’s far ahead in her spiritual journey than the other women at the retreat, showing the authentic struggles that one faces in the process of healing was a major reason for her participation in the film. With all of the women being at different points in their lives and places along their individual path toward healing, Wessendorf’s character Hannah, the one who appears from the outside to be the most spiritual of all, serves as a powerful example of how one’s sense of spirituality can become hijacked by their ego. Wessendorf reveals the many layers of Hannah’s character beautifully.

Actress Sarah Wessendorf shot by Sara Valentino

She shows us her character’s seemingly calm and centered external side, and then takes us slowly deeper behind the veils of her personality to expose the shadow side-- one that she’s camouflaged behind her sense spirituality as a means of protecting herself.

“[Hannah] is quite convinced that she is far ahead in her healing process, but soon realizes during the retreat that what she thought she knew about herself was a carefully constructed structure, one that has actually prevented her from seeing herself fully and truly with all her mistakes and flaws. The actual process for her in the end is learning to love herself even though she is not as pure and free of ego as she previously thought she was,” explains Wessendorf.

“I could very much relate to Hannah in the sense that I too am very interested in learning and embodying spiritual truths. It was important for me to show her deep yearning for truth, for authenticity and for real connection. This is what drives her. Later on when she has to come to terms with the fact that she might have been hiding behind some spiritual aspects, it’s this deep inner drive of hers for truth that makes it possible for her to stay open, vulnerable and able to let go of some of her fears. In the end, she just needed to feel that she would be loved and appreciated no matter what, something we all can relate to at some point I'm sure.”

Wessendorf’s performance is top-notch and the way she breathes life into Hannah is eye-opening and relatable. In “Gone” Wessendorf stars alongside Love Bailey (“Slather It Up”) and Emily Yetter, who’s known for her roles in the Daytime Emmy Award nominated and TV Guide Award winning series “Prom Queen” and the Davey Award winning horror series “Spooked.”

Actress Emily Yetter says, “Sarah is just the type of person and actress you want to have around. She is immensely focused, present and aware. Working with her inspired me as an actress. She would improvise so freely and gave me the opportunity to feel safe to improvise as well, or to follow her lead. I was always looking forward to the scenes in which we played together. I feel like I have learned so much from Sarah by acting and working next to her.”

One of the things that made “Gone” such a unique production to work on for Wessendorf and the other actors was the fact that it was an all women cast led by a female director, Judith Schöll. With Wessendorf having worked on multiple film and stage productions over the course of her career, “Gone” offered her a taste of something different.

She explains, “It was beautiful to be surrounded by an all female cast. The warmth and support was really extraordinary and it seemed like we all had a lot of personal interest in the topic of spirituality and healing. Just like the women we portrayed, we all came from very different paths of life and found ourselves working together in the middle of Croatia.”

Actress Sarah Wessendorf shot by Sara Valentino

For Wessendorf, who has shot films all over the world, including Israel, France and Germany, “Gone” was the first film production that she’s shot on location in Croatia.

“Croatia is just beautiful. It was very scenic. I think it definitely became one of my favorite spots in the world. It was the perfect place for us to shoot this movie. We all felt very connected to the land, and the people were all so friendly, always smiling and helpful,” recalls Wessendorf. “I remember one morning taking one of the crew member’s dogs for a walk early in the morning in nature and I felt so at peace and so grateful to be doing what I’m doing and to be able to work on projects that truly inspire and challenge me, and also help me along in my own process of growth.”

It’s safe to say that the process of shooting “Gone” with an all female cast in the beautiful country of Croatia made for an extremely positive creative collaboration for all parties involved, and the result is definitely noticeable in the final film. With Wessendorf portraying such an enticing and relatable lead character, as well as actresses Love Bailey and Emily Yetter give knock-out performances, it’s not at all surprising that “Gone” was chosen as an Official Selection of the Pula Film Festival and Ljubljana International Film Festival in Europe.

Yetter says, “What distinguishes Sarah as an actress for me, next to her obvious talent, is her soul. She is incredibly deep and empathetic. These are attributes which make for one special actress who is not only talented but also purpose driven and has a healing presence.”

Sarah Wessendorf has clearly left a mark on her costars, just as she does on the audiences that have seen her work. There are definitely big things in store for this talented actress. Up next for Wessendorf is the upcoming film “Berin in You,” where she’ll play the starring role of Greta, a young woman who leaves her small town to start a new life in Berlin, only to find that the wild nightlife may just be too much for her to handle.

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