Robin’s Hood (2020)

Robin’s Hood
Director: Jasmin Baumgartner
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 4.12.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

“Plot”:
Robin is an ex-convict who found his passion running an amateur soccer club in Vienna. His team is very diverse, mostly made up of migrants from various countries. Bringing them together isn’t always easy and in addition to the usual difficulties of forming a team of rather unruly men, Robin and his team are confronted over and over again with racism in many ways during their games.

Robin’s Hood is not so much a movie about soccer (which is a good thing for me), but about racism and the question of whether it is possible to keep a team together under these circumstances – that is, under constant attack.

The film poster showing Robin from behind as he gives the finger to someone on a soccer field.
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Schwarz Weiss Bunt (2020)

Schwarz Weiss Bunt [literally: Black White Colorful]
Director: David Moser
Writer: Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz, David Moser
Cast: Clara Diemling, Elisabeth Kanettis, Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz, Sophie Wegleitner, Viktoria Hillisch
Seen on: 21.12.2020
[Screener review. The film will be released in two days, on December 24, 2020. More info.]

Plot:
It’s a weekend during the summer holidays. University student Matilda (Clara Diemling) has several encounters over this weekend – with new acquaintances like youtuber Mikka (Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz), new friends like Aurora (Elisabeth Kanettis) and old friends like Ju (Sophie Wegleitner) and Nico (Viktoria Hillisch), and even a job interview. In their conversations with each other, Matilda finds herself reflecting about herself, who she is and what she wants.

Schwarz Weiss Bunt is a sweet coming of age film that impresses with a polished feeling, despite being both largely improvised and Moser’s debut feature. Above all, it captures that summer days-search for yourself-atmosphere that most people will have experienced around 20 years old. It is a trip back in time for me (and others might enjoy the look forward or seeing themselves reflected as they are right now), and definitely an enjoyable one.

The film poster showing Matilda (Clara Diemling), her arms wide open, as seen through a wire fence.
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Hochwald [Why Not You] (2020)

Hochwald
Director: Evi Romen
Writer: Evi Romen
Cast: Thomas Prenn, Noah Saavedra, Josef Mohamed, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Ursula Ofner, Elisabeth Kanettis
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2020

Content Note: intense homomisic violence and general homomisia (both shown critically), critical treatment of racism against muslims, bimisia

Plot:
Mario (Thomas Prenn) is stuck in the little mountain village of Hochwald where he sticks out like a sore thumb – a flamboyant dancer, he really has no place in the conservative town. The only one who really seems to understand him is his best friend Lenz (Noah Saavedra) who escaped the village in pursuit of an acting career. He is back for a few days before heading to Rome where he wants to meet his agent. In an act of defiance, Mario joins him and they go to a gay bar. But while they are there, the gay club is attacked and many people die, including Lenz. Mario returns home, heartbroken, to find practically nothing but hostility in Hochwald. How can he go on like this?

Hochwald is really excellent queer cinema made in Austria. Fantastic setting, nicely set in scene and a very thoughtful approach to a very difficult topic. While I didn’t love every detail about it, I absolutely loved the film as a whole.

The film poster showing Mario (Thomas Prenn) in red disco light.
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Jetzt oder morgen (2020)

Jetzt oder morgen (literally: Now or Tomorrow)
Director: Lisa Weber
Writer: Lisa Weber
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 30.10.2020

“Plot”:
Claudia is a young mother who lives with her son, her mother and her brother in a small apartment in Vienna. Claudia’s brother has a job, she and her mother live off benefits. Claudia talks about finishing school, getting a job, getting her own apartment. But when the question is whether she should do it now or tomorrow, the answer is always tomorrow.

Jetzt oder morgen perfectly captures how difficult, downright impossible, it is to find your feet from a precarious position. It does so with respect for Claudia and her family and with a sense of intimacy that is as beautiful as it is important.

The film poster showing Claudia and her kid lounging around in bed. He is looking at a book, she is looking at her phone.
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The Trouble with Being Born (2020)

The Trouble with Being Born
Director: Sandra Wollner
Writer: Roderick Warich, Sandra Wollner
Cast: Lena Watson, Dominik Warta, Simon Hatzl, Ingrid Burkhard, Susanne Gschwendtner, Jana McKinnon
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 29.10.2020

Content Note: pedophilia

Plot:
Ellie (Lena Watson) is a robot who lives with Georg (Dominik Warta) whom she calls Papa. Georg built her after his own daughter who is gone, and they spend their day in their huge house and garden. At night, Georg takes Ellie to his bed and fucks her. For Ellie, this is normal – she is only programmed, after all. But one night, she starts to follow her own path.

The Trouble with Being Born has an interesting concept, but I struggled with the pedophilia angle a lot, and when I didn’t struggle with that, I was mostly bored by the film. It’s unfortunate, epecially because I really wanted to like an Austrian SciFi film directed by a woman.

The film poster showing Ellie (Lena Watson) cowering next to a swimming pool in which a body floats that looks just like her.
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Zaho Zay (2020) – DNF

Zaho Zay
Director: Maéva Ranaïvojaona, Georg Tiller
Writer: Jean-Luc Raharimanana, Maéva Ranaïvojaona, Georg Tiller
Cast: Nabiha Akkari, Eugene Raphael Ranaïvojaona, Michelle Eva Ranaïvojaona
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2020

Plot:
A young woman (Michelle Eva Ranaïvojaona) works as a prison guard – a job that makes her think about her father (Eugene Raphael Ranaïvojaona) who is himself a convicted murderer. She starts to imagine him as a serial killer, determining his victims’ fate by throwing dice.

Zaho Zay completely missed me. It changed dialogues for voice-over, which I hate, but the biggest issue for me was that I just never connected to it or got into the plot at all (in fact, I wouldn’t have been able to sum the plot up without reading up on it again). I started to nod off repeatedly, which didn’t help things at all. So I finally just left (although I think only 15 minutes or so before the end). That was a complete fail for me.

The film poster showing a man's face, over it the image of a woman in a hat, the top image in the shape of a razor blade.

Das schaurige Haus [The Creepy House] (2020)

Das schaurige Haus
Director: Daniel Prochaska
Writer: Marcel Kawentel, Timo Lombeck
Based on: Martina Wildner‘s novel [German]
Cast: Leon Orlandianyi, Marii Weichsler, Lars Bitterlich, Benno Rosskopf, Julia Koschitz, Michael Pink, Inge Maux
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2020
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Plot:
Hendrik (Leon Orlandianyi) and his little brother Eddie (Benno Rosskopf) move with their mother (Julia Koschitz) from Germany to Carinthia in the south of Austria. Their mother is a geologist who will study caves in the area. Hendrik is less thrilled about having to leave all his friends behind. And as soon as they move in the house, strange things start to happen with Eddie. Hendrik meets local kids Ida (Marii Weichsler) and Fritz (Lars Bitterlich) who tell him of the legends surrounding the house. Together the kids start to investigate.

Das schaurige Haus is a pretty perfect example for a kids’ horror film: it is always aimed at kids without being patronizing, funny, and it manages to be creepy in the right dose. Even though I’m not a kid anymore, I enjoyed it as well.

The film poster showing the four kids Ida (Marii Weichsler), Hendrik ( Leon Orlandianyi), Eddie (Benno Rosskopf) and Fritz (Lars Bitterlich) with flashlamps. Below them is an old house, everything is shrouded in fog.
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Waren einmal Revoluzzer [Once Were Rebels] (2019)

Waren einmal Revoluzzer
Director: Johanna Moder
Writer: Johanna Moder
Cast: Julia Jentsch, Marcel Mohab, Aenne Schwarz, Manuel Rubey, Tambet Tuisk, Lena Tronina, Josef Hader
Seen on: 10.9.2020

Plot:
Helene (Julia Jentsch) is a judge, her husband Jakob (Manuel Rubey) a musician and stay-at-home dad. Their lives are pretty settled, as is their friend’s Volker (Marcel Mohab), a therapist with an unceasing string of girlfriends. The newest is Tina (Aenne Schwarz), an art historian who works with children at the museum. When Volker mentions that he will go to Russia for a conference, Helene asks him to bring a package to Pavel (Tambet Tuisk), her Russian college boyfriend who finds himself in a tight spot. This leads to Pavel actually fleeing from Russia to Austria. To Helene’s surprise, he shows up with his wife Eugenia (Lena Tronina) and their child, getting everything in disarray.

Waren einmal Revoluzzer profits from its political heart that does elevate the film beyond the rather standard comedy it is. Still, while entertaining and well-made, I didn’t really love it.

The film poster shwing the faces of the 3 couples in the film.
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Lovecut (2020)

Lovecut
Director: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Writer: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Cast: Kerem Abdelhamed, Sara Toth, Valentin Gruber, Melissa Irowa, Max Kuess, Lou von Schrader, Raphaela Gasper, Marcel Mohab, Doris Schretzmayer
Seen on: 7.9.2020

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
Jakob (Kerem Abdelhamed) and Anna (Sara Toth) have been a couple for a while and enjoy a rather adventurous sex life. Anna desperately wants to move out from home, but she needs to make money for that. So the two decide to try amateur porn. Meanwhile Jakob’s brother Alex (Valentin Gruber) is dating Momo (Melissa Irowa) – online, because he doesn’t dare telling Momo that he uses a wheelchair. Momo’s friend Luka (Lou von Schrader) also uses online dating sites and meets Ben (Max Kuess). Ben is very much into her, but Luka doesn’t want anything to do with feelings.

Lovecut is an interesting look at sex (and a little bit love) for teenagers in times of online dating and easily available (opportunities for) sex work. It manages to be non-judgmental for the most part, which is nice, but it does suffer a little from the inexperience of both the cast and the writing-directing team.

The film poster with three film stills: Ben (Max Kuess) floating in the danube; Anna (Sara Toth) posing for the camera; and Luka (Lou von Schrader) and Ben looking at each other while lying next to sleeping Momo (Melissa Irowa).
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Die Dohnal [Johanna Dohnal – Visionary of Feminism] (2020)

Die Dohnal
Director: Sabine Derflinger
Writer: Sabine Derflinger
Seen on: 27.2.2020

“Plot”:
Johanna Dohnal was Austria’s first minister for women and the first (outspoken) feminist to be part of the government in Austria (maybe even Europe). She fought for women’s rights and achieved a lot. The documentary looks at her achievements, her career and the influence she still has.

I have to say that until this documentary came out, Dohnal was not a name I really knew. She was a minister when I was a child and I was not a child overly involved in politics. And as is so often the case, women and their achievements are more quickly forgotten than you’d ever think possible. I don’t think I ever heard about Dohnal in school. So it is fantastic to get this documentary that memorializes her and makes sure we don’t forget what she made possible.

The film poster showing Johanna Dohnal smoking.
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