Paper Bridge, 1987, Ruth Beckermann

Paper Bridge, 1987, Ruth Beckermann

The Missing Image, 2015/16, Ruth Beckermann

The Missing Image, 2015/16, Ruth Beckermann

A Fleeting Passage to the Orient, 1999, Ruth Beckermann

A Fleeting Passage to the Orient, 1999, Ruth Beckermann

Ruth Beckermann Film Retrospective

3 – 24 September 2017 | Close-Up Film Centre

Ruth Beckermann, born in Vienna in 1952, has been creating essay films and documentaries for 40 years and is well known internationally as one of Austria’s most courageous and spirited filmmakers. Her politics of the image manifests itself in a wide array of cinematic forms: from ‘classical’ documentary approaches through personal essays that traverse time and space like magical carpets to artistic leaps into fiction. This programme explores the work of a director equally suspicious of closed narrative forms and linear views of history and memory.


Programme 1: Missing Images
Sunday 3 September, 5pm
Intro and Q&A with Ruth Beckermann

Arena Squatted
Josef Aichholzer, Ruth Beckermann & Franz Grafl
1977 | 77 min | B/W | DCP By means of material that was created in the Arena the film shows the squatting, the organization of collective work, the negotiations with the city and finally the demolition of the buildings. It calls to memory, how a generation had been politicized through their involvement in the Arena movement.
Suddenly, a Strike
Ruth Beckermann & Josef Aichholzer
1978 | 24 min | B/W | DCP In the tire factory Semperit the only strike after World War II takes place in May 1978, lasting for three weeks. The film shows the course of the strike in interviews, photos, graphics and talks at a pub; it draws attention to the position of the union between its loyalty to the workers and its responsibilities towards the entrepreneurs.
The Missing Image
Ruth Beckermann
2015-16 | 11 min | Colour | DCP Documentation of the installation. The installation The Missing Image relates to the bronze figure of a bearded man lying down with a brush in his hand, depicting the Jews cleaning the streets during the pogrom after the “Anschluss” in March 1938. Ruth Beckermann completes the scene by adding the missing images, those of laughing spectators, recently found in film archives.

Programme 2: East of War
Sunday 3 September, 7:30pm
1996 | 117 min | Colour | DCP

White-tiled rooms, neon lighting; on the walls black and white photographs documenting the atrocities committed by the german Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front in WW2. Against this background former soldiers talk about their experiences beyond the bounds of "normal" warfare. An uncompromising film on remembrance and oblivion. “Ruth Beckermann’s film doesn’t duplicate the exhibition, but begins were it ends: in a commentary. Its subject-matter is less about history than remembering, less about the past than the present” – Jacques Mandelbaum

Programme 3: Return to ViennaReturn to Vienna
Sunday 10 September, 6pm
Ruth Beckermann & Josef Aichholzer
1983 | 91 min | Colour & B/W | DCP

Franz West (1909-85) remembers his youth in Vienna: the variety of the Jewish population of the so called Matzah-Island, his commitment to the worker’s movement of the Red Vienna and the rise of Austro-fascism and National Socialism. West’s masterly narration combined with impressing archive footage illustrate and elucidate the complex Austrian history between WW1 and WW2.

Programme 4: Paper Bridge
Sunday 10 September, 8pm
Ruth Beckermann
1987 | 95 min | Colour | DCP

Paper Bridge is a journey through Ruth Beckermann's own family's history and at the same time the story of Central Europe's Jews and of a region. It takes her from Vienna, where her grandmother survived the war and the nazis in hiding and to which her mother returned from Israel, to the landscapes of her father's childhood: the Bukowina, once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Programme 5: Towards Jerusalem
Monday 11 September, 7:30pm
Ruth Beckermann
1990 | 85 min | Colour | DCP

Towards Jerusalem is not about a chronological recording of history or a clear-cut evaluation of the short and conflict-loaden history of Israel; it is a snapshot, an instantaneous portrait which seems to set itself the Marker principle as a leitmotif: one never knows what one is filming. On the way to Jerusalem it is not only the many different landscapes, secular and religious buildings which in this country are often invested with several different mythological meanings, that reveal themselves, but also very different cultures.” – Christa Blümlinger

Programme 6: A Fleeting Passage to the Orient
Sunday 17 September, 6pm
Ruth Beckermann
2006 | 1 min | Colour | DCP

Mozart Enigma is an ironic comment on biographical pseudo-documentaries. Envisioning a person? Is that possible? Why not go to a fortune teller, take off your wig and have your cards read?

A Fleeting Passage to the Orient
Ruth Beckermann
1999 | 82 min | Colour | DCP “The filmmaker decides to trace Sisi’s travels to the Orient, even though the results were uncertain. With great openness, she embarks on a journey, with the risk of perhaps discovering nothing at all: no clues to the real figure behind the fairytale princess, no answer to the question of how one deals with foreign countries as a privileged traveller. As the first-person narrator, the filmmaker thinks about images: forbidden, official, falsified and genuine, incidentally including in her reflections the problem of the tourist’s view of things, which not even she can escape.” – Stefan Grissemann

Programme 7: Homemad(e)
Sunday 17 September, 8pm
Ruth Beckermann
2001 | 84 min | Colour | DCP

Marc Aurel-Strasse, Vienna: The last surviving Jewish textile merchant in what in former days was the textile district, the Iranian hotel proprietor and the Café Salzgries with its regulars. From summer 1999 until spring 2000, Ruth Beckermann undertook a series of small journeys on and around her own doorstep and investigated her locality with the help of a film camera. The film gives also evidence of the political turnabout which went along with the joining of the government-coalition by the extreme right.

Programme 8: Zorro’s Bar Mitzwa
Monday 18 September, 7:30pm
Ruth Beckermann
2006 | 90 min | Colour | DCP

At the Wailing Wall or in the spotlight of a stage, wearing a Zorro costume or a designer dress, solemn or rollicking: crossing the threshold to the adult world can take place in very different ways. This film accompanies four 12-year-olds – Sharon, Tom, Moishy and Sophie – as they prepare for their bar or bat mitzvot. It takes a critical and ironic look at Jewish tradition and its interpretations, questions the significance of initiation rituals, and attempts to explore the diffuse terrain of adolescence.

Programme 9: American Passages
Tuesday 19 September 7:30
Ruth Beckermann
2011 | 121 min | Colour | DCP

“Veteran Austrian documentary filmmaker Ruth Beckermann's American Passages is an impressive road-traveling collage of the U.S. at the advent of the Obama era. Although the film was ostensibly made to honor Robert Frank's famed 1958 photo essay, The Americans, no knowledge of that work is necessary to grasp Beckermann's aims: snapshot cinematic views of a massive country in a moment in time, spanning races, classes and geographies like a peripatetic anthropologist.” – Robert Koehler

Programme 10: Those Who Go Those Who Stay
Sunday 24 September, 6pm
Ruth Beckermann
2013 | 75 min | Colour | DCP

Rain on a window pane, a fire truck, a tomcat with innumerable offspring: it is an intentionally unintentional gaze that allows for chance encounters, for stories and memories – leads that Ruth Beckermann follows across Europe and the Mediterranean. Nigerian asylum seekers in Sicily, an Arab musician in Galilee, nationalists drunk on beer in Vienna, the Capitoline Wolf, and three veiled young women trying for minutes to cross a busy road in Alexandria. Threads, cloth and textiles pop up like book marks in a fabric of movement, of travelling or seeking refuge. Those Who Go Those Who Stay is a story of being on the move, in the world and one’s own life.

Programme 11: The Dreamed Ones
Sunday 24 September, 8pm
Ruth Beckermann
2016 | 89 min | Colour | DCP

The themes of love and hate are depicted in the movie. At centre stage are the two poets Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan, who came to know each other in post‐war Vienna. Their vivid postal exchange creates the textual basis of the film. Two young actors, Anja Plaschg and Laurence Rupp, meet in a recording studio to read the letters. The tumultuous emotions of proximity and distance, fascination and fear captivate them. However they also enjoy each other’s company, arguing, smoking, discussing their tattoos and favourite music. Yesterday’s love, today’s love and tomorrow’s: where the lines are blurred lies the heart of the film.