Wien Retour. 1977. Austria. Directed by Ruth Beckermann and Josef Aichholzer. In German; English subtitles. 95 min.
With Franz West. A portrait of one man, Franz West (1909–1985), told in his own inimitable words and gestures, and his world, the second district of Vienna, at a time when the future still seemed bright for a young Jew and a committed member of the workers’ movement. In her first feature-length work (co-directed with Josef Aichholzer who, a quarter-century later, would produce the Academy-Award-winning The Counterfeiters), Ruth Beckermann combines archival imagery with West’s on- and off-camera narration to impressive effect, creating a vivid image of a true “melting-pot” Vienna between the two world wars. “There were two main reasons for me to make this film,” she noted in 1983. “I wanted to give voice to a type of person who is considered highly suspect by most Austrians. He is a ‘lefty‘ and an ex-communist, and, for the communists, a renegade. He is also a Jew. Second, I wanted to establish a direct connection between the dismantling of the labor movement in Austria and the fate of the Jews—a link between minorities and progressive activities.” Courtesy sixpackfilm.