Auf Augenhöhe mit dem Teufel [Eye to Eye with the Devil] (2015)

Auf Augenhöhe mit dem Teufel
Director: Alexander Naringbauer
Writer: Alexander Naringbauer
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.9.2016

In Austria, our Christmas traditions are such that on December 6th, Nikolo (who is known in other parts of the world as Santa Claus) brings small gifts to the children [on Christmas proper it’s baby Jesus who brings gifts] who have been good. But Nikolo doesn’t come alone, he comes with Krampus, a devil figure who will take the bad children and put them in his sack (or maybe just spank them a bit). In some areas of Austria, there are entire marches of Krampusses (or Perchten) – those can be around Christmas, but also at the end of winter to chase the winter spirits and darkness away.
Auf Augenhöhe mit dem Teufel is a short documentary about what it means when the Krampus comes to the children and what it means to perform as Krampus.

It was a little disappointing that the documentary was only a short one – I wouldn’t have minded to watch an entire feature about the topic, especially since we are not all that big on Krampus and Perchten in the part of Austria where I’m from. But that’s not the only reason – maybe with a feature documentary, Naringbauer would have looked more critically at its subject. Because there are many things to criticize about this tradition as well – from the fact that during the marches, the Perchten, worn exclusively by men, are often used as the excuse to sexually harass women to the fact that most children are simply terrified of Krampus – and that a lot of adults think it’s the funniest shit ever. But hearing the men talk about their take on the tradition and documenting the tradition itself are two very good reasons to watch this.

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