diagonale 2023

25. April 2023

Diagonale 2023 Five films

Von Natalia Serebryakova

Menuett von Hans Broich

© SUPERZOOM/Diagonale


Mermaids Don’t Cry by Franziska Pflaum

Annika works as a cashier in a supermarket. At first glance, she is an ordinary overweight thirty-year-old woman, but she has a hobby – she loves to swim in the pool, dressed in a mermaid costume. When her friend’s children accidentally tear off her mermaid tail, she has no choice but to order a new luxurious gift online. This silicone tail costs more than 2000 euros, and it will be very difficult for Annika to get money for it. In addition, her annoying father, who pretends to be disabled and rides in a wheelchair, moved in with her. And a friend constantly leaves her children with her, when going on a new date. An outlet may be a relationship with a handsome guy she met at the pool, but he turns out to be an ordinary homeless man who needs an apartment. This film by Franziska Pflaum is a typical mainstream product, teetering between melodrama and comedy. Annika's savior turns out to be her strict manager, but this plot twist is pretty predictable. Pflaum's humour is too soft, even when she jokes about provocative topics, and therefore the film can be an example of a spectator movie that you can go to with kids and popcorn.


Matter out of Place by Nikolaus Geyrhalter

This is a documentary about the impact of ecology on our planet. More specifically, a film is about garbage. Nikolaus Geyrhalter has filmed garbage collection in Nepal, Austria, the Maldives, Greece and the Burning Man festival in Nevada. You can see that in Nepal garbage is not sorted and it dwells in huge piles on the outskirts of villages. In the Maldives, divers collect garbage from the bottom of the ocean and then transport it on large barges. Waste processing plants are shown in Austria. Nikolaus Geyrhalter follows the traces of our rubbish across the planet and sheds light on the endless struggle of people to gain control over the vast quantities of waste. As a true globalist, Geyrhalter made a real canvas about how garbage goes underground and in the future an excavator will be able to open a can of tomato soup. This is a continuous cycle, filmed very cinematically, beautifully. It has amazing scenery and sightings and has much in common with the films of Michael Glawogger.


Breaking the Ice by Clara Stern

Mira is the captain of the Austrian women's ice hockey team. One day, a new girl named Theresa comes to her team, who wants to communicate with Mira. However, Mira has many problems – a grandfather with dementia, a strict mother with whom there is no mutual understanding, and the disappeared brother Paul, who considers himself guilty of the death of their grandmother. In addition, Mira needs to take care of vineyards, because her family has a small wine-making business. Soon Paul returns to her life, bringing Theresa with him. The three become inseparable in their bar-hopping and nonchalant antics. But the tragedy in Mira's family, which took place a few years ago, never finds its logical conclusion. This film only pretends to be a typical sports drama, but is actually a movie about relationships. Lesbian Mira cannot accept herself and her body until she meets Theresa. Paul is looking for an outlet in alcoholism and jokes. But Clara Stern took care of all her characters and prepared a happy ending. Although produced by Nikolaus Geyrhalter's company, the film is far from global philosophical dilemmas and focuses on the daily struggle for a better future.


Menuett by Hans Broich

Menuett is a film by Hans Broich that won Best Editing. On the general level of mainstream cinema (of which there are many at the festival) – a great success. This is an experimental film based on the book Menuet (1948) by the Belgian writer Louis Paul Boon, which does not have the usual narrative. The plot revolves around a love triangle between a husband, wife and their maid (they call her "the girl who helps around the house"). The action is moved to the present day and takes place in April in their cluttered spacious apartment. The husband works in the freezer (they call it the "ice house"), the wife sews children's clothes, the maid helps her. Against the backdrop of the chaotic montage of their way of life one can hear a voiceover, or rather a multitude of voiceovers. The actors read excerpts from the book in the first person, which explain their feelings and motivations. Voices are superimposed one on top of the other and polyphony is obtained, as in João Canijo's film Bad Life. In general, the film is very close to the traditions of modern Portuguese cinema (take, for example, the latest film by Miguel Gomes). This impression is reinforced in the finale, when the plot is deconstructed and we get a film about the film. This film is not only an experimental work with an adaptation of the novel, but also a story about the nature of feelings. Boon became famous for writing his works in the Dutch language in the genre of erotic prose. Sometimes there are voice segments in the film about who this writer really is.


Traces in the Forest by Joshua Jadi

The plot develops in the forests near Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina). A terrible war crime was committed here almost thirty years ago. The Serbs killed over 8,000 Bosniaks aged between 13 and 78. The event went down in history as a The Srebrenica Massacre and is one of the largest genocides since the Holocaust in Europe. As a result of this massacre, Behka, heroine of Joshua Jadi`s documentary, lost her brother who disappeared while trying to bring Behka milkpowder for her newborn during the Bosnian War. Since 1995, a peace march has taken place regularly in these forests. Jadi shot the film during the Covid epidemic, when the masked marchers were trying to walk this path of seeking justice and redemption. Survivors of the Srebrenica massacre have pistols held to their heads again - but this time fever pistols. At dawn, the military takes people out of their tents - to disinfect them. The audience, along with the heroine, make the journey from one guarded tent city to the next through breathtakingly beautiful forests. Jadi has known his heroine since childhood, from the time when his mother helped Bosnian refugees, but this does not prevent him from maintaining a respectful distance towards Behka and her personal space. The camera looks sympathetically at the calluses she rubbed on her feet, at her face in tears that stirred up memories. It is hard to believe that this idyllic landscape was once the scene of a tragedy, and Behka is trying to explore this place, to find the answer to the questions that have haunted her for so many years.