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In the documentary Living Without Money we meet Heidemarie Schwermer, a former teacher and psychoterapist from Germany, who one day decided to stop using money and live a life based on exchanging favors.

The film is directed by Line Halvorsen and produced by Jan Dalchow (Dalchows verden) and Paolo Pallavidino (EiE film). It is co-produced with NRK and funded by Norwegian Film Institute, The Freedom of Expression FoundationNordic Film and TV Fund, Film & Kino, Piemonte Doc Film FundERTYLE and MEDIA.

Watch the film Living Without Money here and buy Heidemarie Schwermer’s book A Rich Life Without Money here


“I had everything I needed, I had a house and I had raised two children. I gave it all away.”

The documentary Living Without Money portraits the life of 68 year old Heidemarie Schwermer, a German woman who made a deliberate choice to stop using money 14 years ago. She cancelled her apartment, gave away all of her belongings and kept nothing but a suitcase full of clothes. This was a decision that changed the entire outlook on her life dramatically.

Today, after 14 years, she is still living almost without money and claims she is feeling more free and independent than ever.  The film follows Heidemarie in her day to day life and shows the challenges she meets by living an alternative lifestyle.

Heidemarie is constantly on the move, meeting new people, staying with old and new friends for a few nights. She is never worried about the future, she’s not even pre-occupied about where she will sleep next week or where she will find her next meal. She knows by experience that things always work out for her as long as she is open to whatever happens. She travels all around Germany, often she is also in Austria, Switzerland and Italy, holding lectures about her experience and trying to convey the message that an easier way of life is possible.

What started out as exchanging favors in lieu of money has now become a lifestyle. She is always trying to help others find a path to a simpler and more harmonic life. She enjoys life in the moment she is living instead of being preoccupied with the future.

In the film we follow Heidemarie in her day-to-day life and experience how she goes about to find food, transport and a place to stay. In addition to showing the daily challenges she meets from living without money, we get to hear more about Heidemarie’s life philosophy and why she has chosen to live this way. We see that it is not only easy for her to live without money in a society where everything is based on money and the value of a person is measured on how wealthy he or she is. People Heidemarie meets on her way, often have strong opinions about her lifestyle. Some call her a “parasite” and claims she is living off others, while some see her as a “visionary source of inspiration”. Through her story we can consider money’s influence on our way of thinking, living and acting and the impact this has on our own lives and health and our environment. This film explores these ideas and reflects of themes of materialism and over-consumption.

Heidemarie Schwermer

Heidemarie Schwermer was born in 1942 in Memel (former East Prussia). During World War II, she and her family came as refugees to Germany, where she grew up. She worked as a teacher for almost 20 years, before she left her position and became a psychotherapist. She has two children and three grandchildren.

In 1994 she founded the “Give and take central” – Germany’s first exchange circle. Two years later she gave away all of her belongings in order to make an experiment where she would live without using money. Slowly but surely she has managed to step out of the existing structures and find a new way of living, free of worries and possessions.

Heidemarie has published the book Das Sterntalerexperiment – mein Leben ohne Geld (“The sterntaler experiment – my life without money”)  The book is translated into EnglishItalian, Spanish, Japanese and South Korean. She has also written the book WunderWelt ohne Geld.

On Heidemarie’s website you can find more information on her thoughts, her life and her experience with living without money. 

The Filmmakers


Line Halvorsen has worked as a director and editor on more than 20 documentaries and travel series for Norwegian and International television since 1997. Many of these have focused on human rights issues. She received her degree in film at the University of Trondheim and specialized in documentary film at Volda College, Norway. In 2002-2004, Halvorsen lived in Bethlehem on the occupied West Bank where she made the documentary A Stone’s Throw Away (2003). The film received several awards, among them the prestigious Norwegian academy award Amanda. In 2004, Halvorsen moved to the United States where she got involved in the intriguing story of Sami Al-Arian and his family, which resulted in the award-winning documentary film USA vs Al-Arian (Best Nordic Documentary, Nordic Panorama 2007; Audience award, Tromsø Int. Film Festival; Best film, Volda Documentary Film festival; two Amanda Awards nominations; Best Film, New Orleans Human Rights Film Festival).

JAN DALCHOW – Producer

Jan Dalchow has worked as a producer, director, editor and sound engineer in Norwegian film and TV production since 1995. He is the founder of the Oslo based production company Dalchows Verden,  (Dalchow’s World),  which works primarily with documentary films,  whose resume includes:
2010: Living Without Money (producer)
2007: USA vs Al-Arian (producer) Awarded Best Nordic Documentary,  Nordisk Panorama/Audience Award,  TIFF/ Best Norwegian Documentary/ Best Film,  New Orleans HRFF / Nominated Best Norwegian Documentary,  Amanda Award,
2005: 100% Human (producer/director), Nominated Best Norwegian Documentary,  Gullruten
2003: Precious Moments (producer/editor/co-director/script), Awarded Best Short Film,  Tribeca Film Festival/ Teddy Award,  Berlinale
2000: Dirty,  Sinful Me (producer/director), Awarded Best Norwegian Documentary,  Gullruten
1996: I Love Whom I Want To Love (producer/ editor/ sound) Nominated Best Norwegian Documentary,  Gullruten and Amanda Award.


Paolo Pallavidino is the founder of the production company EiE based in Turin, Italy.  He is specialized in the production and development of international documentary films. 

Paolo Pallavidino has produced among other: Cosmic Energy (2011), The Other Fellini (coming in 2013), Already Dead – Bruno Against the Mafia (2007) and See You Tomorrow (2005).

Pallavidino is one of the most active Italian producers on the Interational scene. He is a member of European Documentary Network (EDN),Doc/it, Documentary in Europe and graduated at the Eurodoc training programme in 2007.

TONE ANDERSEN – Director of photography

Tone Andersen is a freelance cinematographer and director. From 2002-2006 she was based in the occupied West Bank, where she worked with documentary film and as a camerawoman for TV news. She is currently living in Oslo, Norway, and has worked on documentaries from Asia and the Middle East as well as the US and Europe. She was the cinematographer on the award-winning films A Stone’s Throw Away (2003) and USA vs Al-Arian (2007).

Tone Andersen has studied Film at Lillehammer College and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Film & Video at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design, UK. Her directorial debut When the Boys Return premiered at IDFA in 2012.

DANIEL MAZZA – Director of photography

Daniel Mazza was born in Meran, Italy. In 2000-01 he participated in ESF multimedia course and in 2001-2003 he studied at SAE school of Audio Engineering in Berlin. After working a year as a freelance photographer, he attended the ZeLIG school for documentary, television and new media, Bolzano, Italy in 2003-2004.

Since then he has been working as a photographer on several documentaries and in-house productions, among them: Eurotel (2007); the award winning Wie Ich Bin (2007); Themenservice Energiespender (2009); Themenservice DenkMal Dolomiten (2010).



Stein Berge Svendsen is one of Norway’s most experienced composers and producers, and works from his own studio, Amadeus Studio AS, in Oslo. Stein Berge Svendsen has his background from Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA, with a major in film scoring.

He has written and produced for Scandinavian artists like Mette Hartmann, Kurt Nilsen, Jan Werner, Winta, Noora, Finn Kalvik, Van Eijk and Carola. He has also written several children’s musicals, theatre music for the National Theatre in Oslo and scores for film and TV productions. His resume includes music to the films 100% Human, Forever Yours, My Jealous Barber, Love Me Tomorrow, Svein and the Rat, Trigger, The Art of Negative Thinking, My Daughter The Terrorist and USA vs Al-Arian.


Lisa Ekberg has worked as a film editor since the mid-1990’s with focus mainly on documentaries. She has edited five feature length documentaries: the prize winner Living Amongst Lions (1998), the music documentary Weightless (2002), Bullshit (2005) Young Freud in Gaza (2008) and Blood Calls You (2010). Ekberg has edited about 30 TV documentaries that have been broadcast worldwide.

Ekberg has created a long lasting work relationship with established directors in the Nordic countries, such as PeÅ Holmquist and Sigve Endresen. In addition Ekberg has been a guest teacher in documentary film editing at Dramatiska Institutet in Stockholm and Filmhøyskolen i Lillehammer. In 2010 she finished the course Documentality at the Royal Univeristy College of Fine Arts in Stockholm.



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