Rosi, Kurt and Koni are three Austrians who never properly learned to read and write; functional analphabets. The movie chronicles their attempts to master those skills in their adult life and generally, how they navigate in a society that supposes that everybody can read and write, even though it is estimated that about a million Austrians (one eighth of our population) are unable to do so sufficiently.
Rosi, Kurt and Koni chooses the personal experience of the three over expert interviews or research into hard facts. That’s what makes it especially fascinating, though I do admit that I sometimes wanted a little more meta information that we got.
Lassl found three very different people in very different circumstances whose stories show a few parallels. Above all it’s their fight to lead a live that is their own, while still getting the help they need, that they share. All three of them are at the edge of mental disability, if not past it, making their life hard, especially when it comes to money. Kurt mentions that he had three life insurances. Rosi has a friend with whom she does her bookkeeping to control her spending. But when said friend suggest that she could become Rosi’s custodian (Sachwalter*in – in Austria that means that a person takes the responsibility for any and all contracts of another person, can also include personal care), so she’d handle Rosi’s money directly, leaving her an allowance to do as she pleases, Rosi – understandably – bulks: she’s an adult woman, she wants to live off her own money and on her own terms, not some kind of pocket money.
I was particularly touched by Kurt’s fight for his son who lives in a foster home and visits Kurt regularly. Kurt works very hard to provide him with everything he can and is a devoted father, but is seen as unfit to be the full-time parent of his child since he couldn’t provide the necessary help for him in his school work etc. When Kurt painstakingly reads out an official letter that details this decision, you can see both the silent acceptance that he really isn’t good enough to provide his son with everything he needs, and the hurt that comes with that judgement of the situation.
All three of them seem to have been part of some kind of project where they made an animated short film, but the movie remains vague about details and so it never really became clear to me what that project was and how it came to be – one of the many infos I would have appreciated during the film. The other thing that I missed was a bit more information on a societal scale. That a million Austrians are functional analphabets, for example, is only something you can read on the movie poster – it is never once mentioned during the film.
But apart from those moments where I really would have appreciated just a bit more info, maybe some narration or subtitles or something, I really enjoyed the film and it’s honest, sensitive and respectful portrayal of its three protagonists and their life.