Ute Bock Superstar (2018)

Ute Bock Superstar
Director: Houchang Allahyari
Writer: Houchang Allahyari, Tom-Dariusch Allahyari, August Staudenmayer
Seen on: 11.2.2019

Ute Bock was one of the most important figures in Austrian refugee support efforts. She established a center and home for refugees and tirelessly worked to help them until their death in 2018. Allahyari has already created two documentaries about her. In this third one he combines images from the first two documentaries with new material in an attempt to create a memorial for her.

Ute Bock Superstar is a mix of private and public information and images about Bock (that probably stems from the fact that Allahyari was her brother-in-law), and that mix felt a little unbalanced to me. There was a lot of interesting stuff here, but I was hoping for a little more in the documentary.

The film poster showing a stencil of Ute Bock's face in red on yellow background.

I assume that the film tried to capture Bock as a person and not just as a public figure, and therefore went for showing us also a lot of her private life. And I have to admit that it often made me uncomfortable. Not because the information shared was somehow supersecret or in any way objectionable. I just felt that it was none of my fucking business. I really don’t need to know who inherited her cats, for example.

In other places, regarding her public role, I felt like the film was often missing information to frame what we saw or to give me a clearer idea of her CV. Yes, Ute Bock was very well known, but I wasn’t aware of many details of how she ended up doing what she did and the film didn’t make it easy to follow that – I think it assumed too much knowledge on my/the audience’s part.

Ute Bock standing in a park.

It’s not that the film is bad and we certainly do get an idea of Ute Bock, her life and her work. But I was often hoping for getting more out of the existing material or seeing slightly different material. Maybe it would have worked better if there had been a little more distance on the director’s part.

That being said, even if the film didn’t work for me all that well, Ute Bock was a fantastic woman who deserves to be remembered just as much as her work – and it’s good that we have this film to do so.

Ute Bock sitting next to a little girl.

Summarizing: Great woman, not so great film.

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