ÜBER DIE JAHRE (Over the Years, Austria 2015, 8.5., with guests Nikolaus Geyrhalter und Wolfgang Widerhofer, & 17.5.) The last employees of a textile factory in Austria's Waldviertel have seen the threat of closure coming for several years now. The machines are out-of-date and demand has dwindled. After the factory does indeed close, the filmmaker accompanies several of its workers on their further way through life, asking them about their daily routines, their life situations, their attempts at finding work, or their new jobs. One woman's set-up becomes increasingly precarious, although she brings up her grandchildren as a matter of course despite this. Another works flexibly and capably here and there. One of the men visibly blossoms whilst unemployed, taking the time to look after his elderly mother and his Schlager music collection. Bit by bit, aspects of their private lives and the oft-bitter strokes of fate make their presence felt. What begins as the document of a dying branch of industry develops over the course of ten years into an epic documentary account about life and work in the post-industrial era. An outstanding, moving film dedicated to people.
PRIPYAT (Austria 1999, 9.5. with guests Nikolaus Geyrhalter and Wolfgang Widerhofer & 19.5.) The Ukrainian town of Pripyat was at the epicenter of the 1986 nuclear reactor accident at Chernobyl. When Nikolaus Geyrhalter explored the area twelve years after the devastating disaster, Pripyat had become a ghost town right in the midst of the 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the power station that is contaminated with radiation, a place where nothing should be eaten or drunk and where no dust should be inhaled. In long, precisely framed shots, this impressive film creates a portrait of the people that still live and work there in spite of everything: a lab technician who talks a lot about the past, a old couple who voluntarily returned to the area out of homesickness following their forced relocation, a woman without either gas or telephone who has been waiting for years to be evacuated, and an engineer at the nuclear power plant who shows no doubt in guaranteeing safety. The black-and-white documentary footage allows both Beckettian absurdity and science fiction in the style of Tarkovsky's "Stalker" to enter proceedings.
ABENDLAND (Austria 2011, 9.5. with guests Nikolaus Geyrhalter and Wolfgang Widerhofer & 14.5.) Europe by night: border fences, night vision devices, surveillance cameras, a hospital ward for premature babies, an old peoples’ home, the European Parliament in session, drinking and yelling at the Oktoberfest in Munich, a crematorium aided by robots, migrants working at the conveyor belt of a postal sorting station, the Pope in Rome, a Sky News TV station, an erotic club, a telephone helpline for those in despair, airports, factories, refugee camps, protests against the transport of nuclear waste, a techno rave… Countless miniature scenes, all of which captured in precisely composed wide shots, a report of the state of Europe as a cultural and economic space comes together based on showing rather than telling, an account that shows a continent sealing itself off from the outside, an account of birth and death, care and exclusion, affluence and cruelty, anonymity and control.
ANGESCHWEMMT (Austria 1994, 10.5., with an introduction by Bert Rebhandl & 19.5.) The watchman at a "graveyard of the unnamed" has a whole lot of stories to tell about the floating corpses he fished out of the river and buried. The banks of the Danube are also home to a Romanian married couple living on a freighter, a Buddhist temple and its monk, allotment holders, unemployed people, trainee soldiers, and a fisherman who is dour and critical about the Viennese and the planned national park. All these protagonists introduce themselves and present their respective stomping grounds. Geyrhalter's debut film was shot on 16mm not far from Vienna, yet comes across like a journey to a strange foreign land. The grainy black-and-white footage of people and landscapes produce a degree of otherworldliness, while the peculiarities of the Danube's residents are certainly not without comedy.
UNSER TÄGLICH BROT (Austria 2005, 11. & 14.5.) These are imposing images: a airplane spraying pesticides over a field of sunflowers, slaughterhouses, battery farming facilities, and monocultures housed in gigantic greenhouses – the settings for industrial food production at various places in Europe whose precise locations remain unknown. Monumental spaces, surreal landscapes and bizarre sounds. The world of high-tech agriculture is controlled by machines. The camera keeps its distances from the technology, animals and people. No interviews, no voiceover, a documentary in which not a single word is spoken. Shot in a series of static, symmetrical wide shots with a one-point perspective, the widescreen images are strung together in such a way to make the advanced technological character of food production palpable.
DAS JAHR NACH DAYTON (Austria 1997, 12. & 16.5.) Moving observations from 1996, shortly after the end of the three-and-a-half-year war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which came to an end with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in late 1995. A Serb and his family must leave the house they're living in for the second time because the territory to which they fled during the war is now being given back to the majority Muslim and Croat Federation. An actor has lost both his legs to a grenade. A Muslim shepherd would like to see his friend again in the Croat-dominated area of West Mostar. A young boy plays football with UN soldiers in the ruins of the National Library in Sarajevo. Destruction as far as the eye can see and desperate people suffering from loss and deprivation. The four-part film concentrates on the fate of various individuals regardless of their nationality in a series of interview sequences presented without commentary. It’s not about guilt or innocence, nor about trying to explain the causes for and course of the war, but rather about the experiences of the people and the questions that remains as to how they will continue to coexist.
ELSEWHERE (Austria 2001, 15.5., with an introduction by Bert Rebhandl, & 20.5.) Niger, Finland, Namibia, West-Papua, Greenland, Australia, northern India, Siberia, China, Sardinia, Canada, and Micronesia – these are the twelve stops on the twelve-month trip that the film team took in 2000 for this large-scale conceptual film, with twelve twenty-minute episodes were created along the way. Geyrhalter searches for the traces of self-sufficient, minority forms of life across the globe, in the remote regions of our globalized world, and observes people carrying out their daily tasks in the desert, the ice, the jungle, or the mountains. A man finds a frozen reindeer that’s missing its head, two seal hunters complain about Brigitte Bardot, children play Nintendo in the rainforest, and Inuit women buy fish in the supermarket. Visually striking tableaus of different forms of civilization at the start of the 21st century.
7915 KM (Austria 2008, 13. & 18.5.) 7.915 kilometers is the distance of the legendary Paris-Dakar rally. Following in the tire-tracks of this fast-moving motorsport and media spectacle, which is only shown in the prologue, the film makes numerous stops along the course of the race, taking in Morocco, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Mauretania, Mali, and Senegal as it slows things down and lingers, taking an interest in the concrete living circumstances of the inhabitants along the way and conducting conversations with men, women, and children. A Moroccan who knows the area well makes fun of the trust the drivers place in their GPS systems. A little girl names her goat Rallye. In Mali, young men await money transfers from their relatives who have gone to Europe. Most people see themselves as cut off from opportunities of any kind. These images of diverse living realities reveal different aspects of the relationship between Africa and Europe. (bik) An event in cooperation with the Österreichischen Kulturforum Berlin.