June 4, 2017

The second bunch of the national selection has presented four films under the title Stage/Lights. Hence, according to the programmers, the main motivation of the protagonists would be the fostering of their image among family, friends, as well as the general public. Let’s see how this played out for the audience.

The dominant parts of the programme were two films produced by the Viennese Film Academy, both dealing with coming-of-age issues. Wannabe by Jannis Lenz is the more ambitious of the pair. It tells the story of 17 year-old Coco, who wants nothing more than to become rich and famous and thus avoid the supposedly dull everyday lives of ordinary people. In order to achieve this, she skips school, goes to castings and video shoots, and sets up her own YouTube channel, which she, of course, titles »Coco Channel«… The reactions of her environment vary, as expected, between alleged coolness from her peers, helpless worry of her mother, calculating support from her boyfriend, and professional reality bites. The main asset of this Clermont-Ferrand winner and EFA nominee is the lead actress Anna Suk, who convincingly portrays a still painfully naive member of her narcissistic, media-savvy and media-absorbing generation. Considering the rules of the times we live in, and in accord with the subject matter, it should not surprise that the director decided to enhance the film to a cross media level, with a constantly updated YouTube channel. On you can (re)watch the film from the protagonist’s point of view and get updates about the development of her story.

On the other hand, in Paul Ploberger‘s Beer & Calippo, the driving force of the young protagonists is another teenage constant – rock bands. The story revolves around Jojo (Maresi Riegner), whose father (played by the popular Austrian actor Roland Düringer) allows her to join her boyfriend and his band on tour. Jojo is more mature than her peers, and even her father, which is not exactly a revolutionary dramaturgical turn, but is refreshing in this particular context. However, the director reveals every crucial point of the plot development way too early. The result is a typical student film: easygoing, pleasant, yet ultimately forgettable.

These two films were flanked by an experimental and an animated film. Reinhold Bidner follows his previous live performance experiments with an actual 3D film, Until We Coleidescape. What we got to see through our glasses was a small audio-visual gem, which could – due to its ambient, guitar-driven composition – also be a music video for a post-rock song. A colourful, rhythmical interaction of prisms, strings and kaleidoscope forms does not have a narrative in itself, but still serves as an allegory of anything and everything (left to the imagination of the spectator), leading to an emotional crescendo. At the same time, it is one of the rare films that make a truly good use of the currently so popular 3D technique.

The last film of the evening was Daniela Leitner’s Late Season. An animated commentary on passion and romance and how it wears out through the years of a relationship, it culminates in a twist that happens during holidays at the seaside. There a withered couple encounters a couple in bloom, who unintentionally help them remember how they used to feel decades ago. As explained after the screening, the film was made out of finn cardboard that was later digitally coloured and animated. The outcome is a charming romantic comedy with a certain French touch, and not only in its soundtrack.

Although the selection proved to be eclectic, the overall title of the programme was ultimately misleading. The main motivation of all four films, even the experimental one, is not so much a need to be in the spotlight, as it is a search for or acting out of love.

Miha Veingerl