1978. Austria. John Cook. 97 min.
Friday, March 7, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2
1978. Austria. Directed by John Cook. With Hermann Juranek, Christa Schubert, Franz Schuh. Although he spent a relatively short period of his life in Austria, Canadian-born John Cook (1935–2001) remained, in his own words, "Viennese by choice.” Having worked as a commercial photographer in Paris, Cook came to Vienna in the late 1960s, producing his first quasi-documentary film in 1972. He largely self-financed his first feature, Slow Summer, which was shot on Super-8 with a cast and crew of close friends. But his first “regular” production was Schwitzkasten, based on a novel by the leftist writer Helmut Zenker. Today, the film is considered one of the few undisputed masterpieces of the New Austrian Cinema: a freewheeling, tender, and strangely humorous portrait of working-class (and out-of-work) lives. At the time, however, Cook’s genial and unpretentious approach was remarked upon only by the most ardent critics, who compared it with that of Eric Rohmer and Jean Eustache. An independent filmmaker par excellence, Cook constantly struggled for his art. By the early 1980s—when the local film subsidy system became more rigid—he had grown tired of the struggle and left both Austria and the filmmaking profession behind. A champion of Cook's work from the start, the Austrian Film Museum instigated his “rediscovery” in 2006 with the restoration of his films and a celebrated set of book and DVD publications. Courtesy The Austrian Film Museum. In German; English subtitles. 97 min.