February 2019, arsenal cinema

Ludwig Wüst Retrospective

AUFBRUCH, 2018

Over the past 16 years, the independent filmmaker Ludwig Wüst (*1965) has created an oeuvre, which occupies a special position in cinema and not only in Austrian filmmaking. Wüst’s films break radically with viewing habits and are characterized by a concentration on fundamental human sensibilities. Born in Upper Palatinate, Wüst trained as a carpenter before moving to Vienna to study acting and singing. His artistic career began in the theater and he soon made a name for himself with his radically direct treatment of erotic and socially taboo themes. This theater background has had an important impact on his films, which seek unfiltered emotions, physicality and a powerful language, presented by outstanding actors. Furthermore, Wüst has built up a firm team of partners behind the camera. The cameraman Klemens Koscher has been with him since his beginnings in film. “The absoluteness of Wüst’s obsessive work – each shot imparts the now unfortunately rare feeling that it simply had to be made – combines with a keen cinematic conscience. Even when he employs a seemingly simple “documentary” medium, his implementation reveals an astonishing gift for reflection.” (Christoph Huber) Arsenal will show a representative selection of Ludwig Wüst’s oeuvre, which the director himself has described as “guerilla filmmaking”. He will be present on all three evenings to talk about his films.

AUFBRUCH (Departure, Austria 2018, 1.2.) A Japanese proverb – “the sadness for the passing of things” - inspired Ludwig Wüst’s most recent feature film, which premiered at the 2018 Berlinale Forum. A man and a woman decide to put their former lives behind them. They meet on a lonely country road and set off on their path together. “With striking images of huge intensity and occasional bursts of percussion on the soundtrack, an intimate drama unfolds which is pared down but still full of emotion, a rumination on where we come from and where we are headed.” (Birgit Kohler)

ÄGYPTISCHE FINSTERNIS (Egyptian Eclipse, Austria 2002, 2.2.) Screened very rarely, Wüst’s first film is an adaptation of the third chapter of Ingeborg Bachmann’s unfinished novel “Der Fall Franza” (The Book of Franza) and developed over several trips to Egypt. “A hermetic text, written 40 years ago in a hermetic country, which at first glance divulges nothing and often does not allow for a second. (Ludwig Wüst) The description of an odyssey with no return home is told in unwaveringly composed Mini DV images and conveyed intensively by the lead actress Michaela Conrad.

ZWEI FRAUEN (Two Women, Austria 2006, 2.2.) Klara moves to Vienna shortly after her husband’s fatal accident. She discovers from a video tape sent anonymously that her husband was having an affair for years before his death. “In her cleared up apartment, she tries to take hold of her life again: She feels an emptiness that needs to be filled, reflected by the sparse interior, framed by the signs and messages of the secret love affair.” (Christoph Huber) At the same time, the tragic fate of the man’s mistress is told. Wüst developed the concept of the film in close cooperation with Burgtheater actress Sabine Haupt.

KOMA (Austria 2009, 2.2.) Wüst’s “second first film”, as he puts it, begins with birthday preparations. The taxi driver Hans turns 50 but stays away from the party organized by his wife. Among his presents by mistake is a DVD that belongs to his son. Its outrageous content has far-reaching consequences: “He has to awake from his coma and go through different hells to get to where he actually belongs.” (Ludwig Wüst) This charmingly disturbing work was the first to attract Wüst major attention as a filmmaker. Before the screening, we will show PASOLINICODE 02112011 (Austria 2011), an intelligent exploration of the myths around the death of Pier Paolo Pasolini, a central source of inspiration for Wüst.

ABSCHIED (Farewell, Austria 2014, 3.2.) This film is also an eloquent example of Wüst’s ongoing dialogue with film history. Michael Snow’s milestone of experimental film Wavelength (1967) marks the starting point. “In the stranglehold of a continuous zoom, a completely normal afternoon chat between two friends transforms into a scene of unburdening in which boundaries are inevitably transgressed.” (Christoph Huber)

HEIMATFILM (Austria 2016, 3.2.) After looking back on his family history and the places of his childhood in Das Haus meines Vaters (My Father’s House, 2013), Wüst ventured another deeper, ruthlessly honest and at the same time playful examination of his roots. Made not long after the director’s 50th birthday, this film seems like the sum of his creativity and thought till then. “From his own family photo album, to unused material from earlier films to a pas de deux of documentary and fiction, Wüst succeeds in creating a dazzling mosaic of associations, which circle around the idea of home.” (Christoph Huber) (gv)

In cooperation with the Austrian Cultural Forum in Berlin.