various venues, London
various venues, London
The BFI London Film Festival will screen a number of Austrian films at this year's festival!
Dir-Prod Ulrich Seidl. Scr Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz.
With Margarete Tiesel, Peter Kazungu, Inge Maux. Austria 2012.
120min. UK Distribution Soda Pictures
Frustrated, and looking for love in all the wrong places, Teresa (Margarete Tiesel) travels to a beach resort in Kenya where she joins a gaggle of middle-aged white sex tourists known as ‘sugar mamas’. Initially alarmed by the transactional nature of her exchanges with the alluring African men who line the beaches promising sex, her disappointment soon turns to indignation and then, as she begins to assert her plump body, to superiority. Urich Seidl (Dog Days; Import/Export), is one of contemporary cinema’s great provocateurs, and the first of his ‘Paradise’ trilogy about three women from the same family is another confronting and cautionary tale of 21st-century commodification, this time haunted by the spectre of an earlier colonialism. Working again with cinematographers Ed Lachman and Wolfgang Thaler, the simultaneously harsh and seductive visuals take their aesthetic cue from the impact of black skin on Tiesel’s resplendent, fleshy proportions. Clare Stewart
Sat 20 October, 18:12, VUE 7
Sun 21 October, 16:00, Renoir
Dir-Scr Julian Roman Pölsler. Prod Rainer Kölmel, Antonin Svoboda,
Martin Gschlacht, Wasiliki Bleser. With Martina Gedeck.
Austria-Germany 2012. 108min. UK Distribution New Wave Films
Not many films so directly address the Human Condition as intense, contemplative Alpine drama The Wall, adapted from Marlen Haushofer’s 60s bestseller. The film is effectively a solo tour de force for Martina Gedeck as a woman who finds herself alone and trapped – by an inexplicable, invisible force – in a remote corner of the Austrian mountains. Once we accept this premise, somewhere between sci-fi and Kafka, the existential dimensions of the dilemma facing this Robinson Crusoe of the mountains become increasingly resonant – not least because the film’s exploration of her plight is so concrete. Dazzlingly shot over several seasons by a team of cinematographers, this is a mesmerising, philosophically rich drama about solitude and the things that, against all odds, keep us human. With Gedeck’s subtly imposing performance, The Wall is a stunningly original drama, and one of recent cinema’s finest explorations of the Great Outdoors. Jonathan Romney
Tue 16 October, 18:15, VUE 7
Wed 17 October, 18:30, Screen on the Green
WHAT IS LOVE
Dir-Scr Ruth Mader. Prod Gabriele Kranzelbinder. With Saskia Maca,
Helene Bubna, Michael Bubna. Austria 2012. 80min.
A woman, who appears happy to live alone, attends a family reunion. A husband and wife argue that he’s spending too much time at work. A priest is at prayer. On the night shift, a worker goes through her routine in a pristine factory. A Christian couple present a united front to their children, though they quibble in therapy. Ruth Mader’s contemplation of relationships between families, husbands and wives or with God, taking place in different strata of society, makes for an exquisite film. Her static camera captures these five episodes and their environments with composed elegance, presenting curious, honest and intimate slices of modern life, scenes that are often insightful, emotive or amusing. The film’s title is tellingly without a question mark, and while it would be difficult to argue it provides a definitive answer to what love is, What is Love suggests it can be something that is beautifully mundane. Michael Hayden
Fri 12 October, 18:45, ICA
Sun 14 October, 13:00, Renoir
Dir-Scr Michael Haneke. Prod Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz. With Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert. France-Germany-Austria 2012.
127min. UK Distribution Artificial Eye Film Company Ltd
Michael Haneke’s deserving Palme d’Or-winner about an otherwise comfortably-off octogenarian couple (Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva) trying to cope when a stroke leaves the wife partly paralysed and speechless is characteristically honest and unsentimental. Save for one early scene at a recital, the entire film takes place in the retired music teachers’ Paris apartment; as Anne’s condition deteriorates, so their world shrinks, and visits by their daughter (Isabelle Huppert) and others merely distract Georges from the business of deciding what’s best for his wife. Haneke never underplays the difficulty of maintaining a mutually supportive relationship when everything has turned so much for the worse that even one’s beloved Schubert offers no solace; nor, however, is his film remotely sensationalist – he’s acutely alert to what should be left to the imagination. The result is a wonderfully sensitive examination of the painful challenges posed by the sudden and inexorable erosion of a loved one central to one’s own experience of life; the film’s quiet tenderness and the brave, brilliant performances make it quite extraordinarily moving. This is as close to perfection as filmmaking gets. Geoff Andrew
Thurs 11 October, 20:45, Curzon Mayfair
Sat 13 October, 12:15, Curzon Mayfair
Dir-Scr Jem Cohen. Prod Paolo Calamita, Jem Cohen, Gabriele Kranzelbinder.
With Mary Margaret O’Hara, Bobby Sommer, Ela Piplits.
Austria-USA 2012. 106min. Sales MPM Film
Johann appears happy in his job of attendant at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Art Museum, content to spend his days surrounded by the precious paintings and artefacts displayed there, adopting an amiable attitude towards his colleagues while recognising he has little in common with them. He meets Anne, an enigmatic Canadian woman visiting an unfamiliar city where her cousin is ill in hospital, and the two form a bond. Johann acts as Anne’s guide to Vienna; he relishes the opportunity to share his knowledge of its art and architecture, acknowledging he is rediscovering the place himself. The latest film from renowned documentarian and film-essayist Jem Cohen (Benjamin Smoke; Chain), Museum Hours is a charming rumination on art and observation featuring strikingly beautiful images that appeared to have been captured casually and engaging, perfectly pitched performances from Bobby Sommer and Mary Margaret O’Hara as characters meeting at a crossroads in their lives. Michael Hayden
Mon 15 October, 20:45, National Film Theatre
Tue 16 October, 13:00, National Film Theatre
Wed 17 October, 13:30, ICA