Curtain Raiser*

*curtain-raiser /ˈkɝː.t̬ənˌreɪ.zɚ/

a short play sometimes performed before the main play.
a small event that happens before a bigger one and is a preparation for it.

IFFI was supposed to take place this week. The opening of the cinemas allows us to give a small prelude to the festival by showing three films from the November Programme.

AFRICAN MIRROR | May 29th, 20:00 at Leokino 1

R: Mischa Hedinger; OmU

René Gardi (1909–2000) was a Swiss travel writer, filmmaker, and public speaker who repeatedly visited and filmed in Cameroon over his lengthy career. AFRICAN MIRROR combines footage shot by Gardi and various media appearances with his writings in voiceover to create a portrait of a man and his repugnant views all the more chilling for their careful expression. For Gardi, Africa and its inhabitants were pure projection, at once a chance to expound on his specifically Swiss take on racism and colonialism and a film studio where crafting the desired images (and images of desire) was nothing to do with reality. Hedinger’s assiduous editing also reveals how Gardi was actively celebrated for these views, his influence touching development policy, education, and culture in the whole German-speaking world, even reaching the 10th Berlin Film Festival, another self-declared “window on the world”. Time passed and Gardi became old news, his films criticized, the word neo-colonialism invoked, his “studio” now in other hands. More time has passed now, but have the words of Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe that open the film lost any of their urgency? “What we call Africa is a collection of wishes, longings and naïve fantasies. These are promoted, passed on and cultivated.” (James Lattimer)

Schweiz 2019; Regie & Buch: Mischa Hedinger; Ton: Fabian Gutscher; Daniel Hobi; Schnitt: Mischa Hedinger & Philipp Diettrich; Musik: Rutger Zuydervelt; Mitwirkender: René Gardi; (DCP; Farbe/Schwarzweiß; 84min; deutsch-schwizerdütsch-französische).

LA VIDA EN COMÚN | May 30th, 20:00 at Leokino 1

R: Ezequiel Yanco; OmU

In the desert plains of western Argentina, there is a village of about 20 concrete buildings that recall the shape of tents. Located within this remote setting charged with symbolism and history, Nación Rangel is an artificial community built on sacked, expropriated territory. Drawing on his background as a historian, Ezequiel Yanco collects the experience of that reality, where young people take on the leading role in their daily lives due to the absence of the adult population, who have either left or take no part in their development.They work out for themselves what has not been passed on to them, such that the hunting of the puma becomes a rite of passage.
The film focuses on these hybrid spaces where modernity and tradition create a new narrative, the place where the transition from adolescence to adulthood is situated. The pampa is powerful in its vastness, its intensity of colors and sounds. Yanco interweaves those different atmospheres into a tale somewhere between fiction and legend, where the voice of its young protagonist Uriel acts as our guide. In the midst of experiencing a transformation himself, Uriel can dream of being a puma. A film that shifts between different languages, in profound, poetic dialogue with history, identity, and maturation. A film to be heard and to listen to. (Eva Sangiorgi)

ARGENTINIEN/F 2019; Regie & Buch: Ezequiel Yanco; Ton: Mercedes Gaviria; Schnitt: Ana Godoy; Kamera: Joaquin Neira; Mitwirkende: Uriel Alcaraz, Isaías Barroso, Ángel Baigorria, Brian Llambia, RodrigoAlcaraz, Jeremías Barroso, Luana Baigorria, Yuliana Alcaraz, Mabel Baigorria, Yamila Rodríguez; (DCP; Farbe; 70min; spanisch ORIGINALFASSUNG MIT ENGLISCHEN UNTERTITELN).

VITALINA VARELA | May 31th, 20:15 at Leokino 1

R: Pedro Costa; OmU

It was in CAVALO DINHEIRO (2014) that we first met Vitalina Varela, a 55-year-old woman from Cape Verde. At that time, we didn’t know much about her character but after five years, the master Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa is finally back and with a new film fully dedicated to her, VITALINA VARELA (2019). On screen, in the sumptuous darkness of the night, men and women walk together in a procession between life and death with crosses and saints over their heads. Suddenly, we meet again the haunted-heroine who gives name to the title. She has arrived late to her husband’s funeral in the outskirts of Lisbon. She has been waiting for her plane ticket for more than 25 years.
In his films, Pedro Costa has continually returned to immigrant communities in Portugal and now, without her deseased husband Joaquim and after retreating into isolation, Vitalina must start a new life there. VITALINA VARELA is a film of unique beauty in cinema. It feels like a message from another time. A heartbreaking story illuminated by a truly remarkable performance of its star. (Gustavo Beck)

Portugal 2019; Regie: Pedro Costa; Buch: Vitalina Varela
Pedro Costa; Ton: João Gazua; Schnitt: João Dias
Vítor Carvalho; Kamera: Leonardo Simões; Mitwirkende: Vitalina Varela, Ventura, Manuel Tavares Almeida, Francisco Brito, Imídio Monteiro, Marina Alves Domingues; (DCP; Farbe; 124min; portugiesisch ORIGINALFASSUNG MIT ENGLISCHEN UNTERTITELN).

Programm leokino-cinematograph: www.leokino.at