Films About Aliens; Austrian engaged cinema
The Week of Austrian engaged cinema (28 October — 4 November) is quite important for us because it is an opportunity to get to know a country geographically close to ours. Besides, with the decline of communism Austria became a transit area, a place where different cultures meet. This is reflected in recent Austrian film. My Russia by Barbara Gräftner develops a study about the inability to cope and the impossibility of love in the cynical Vienna surrounding (protagonist’s son is about to get married with an immigrant from Ukraine who used to be a go-go dancer). An excellent hand-held camera with its neurotical movements stresses cultural affectation of characters and the overall atmosphere on the brink of schizophrenia. Goran Rebić’s Yugofilm (1997) tells a story from a boy’s perspective about the immigrants from former Yugoslavia. The main conflict of the film arises from the gap between cold middle-class surrounding and hot nationalistic prejudices. Florian Flicker’s Susie Washington (1998) is a story about a teacher from Gruzia who wants to reach America at all cost. Stranger by Götz Spielmann (1999) talks about a young woman from Mexico who arrives in Vienna with her German friend to do a drug job. When they finally fall in love again, it is too late. Nikolaus Geyrhalter is the author of a post-apocalyptic story about Chernobyl — Pripyat (1999) A film somewhere between documentary and surrealism. The high point of the selection is definitely Ulrich Sedl’s Dog Days (2001) a masterful study of character in six parallel stories about the inhabitants of Vienna suburbs during the ’dog days’ of unbearable heat from 24 July till 23 August. Seidl’s film is also a study of Austrian middle-class characters in the time of overall alienation, cold-heartedness and the inability to achieve an emotional relationship, which results in latent aggressiveness. Bitter-ironic mocking of Austrian values is best presented in the sequence in which one of the characters is forced to sing the Austrian anthem with a candle stuck in his rear. The week finished with short motion pictures — the form that signalled the rise of the generation of the nineties (Summer Vacation by Antonin Svoboda, Sunspots by Barbara Albert, and Flora by Jessica Hausner).