1999. Austria. Barbara Albert. 103 min.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 4:00 p.m.
Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2
1999. Austria. Written and directed by Barbara Albert. With Nina Proll, Edita Malovcic, Astrit Alihajdaraj. This critically acclaimed and widely seen debut feature by 29-year-old Barbara Albert was the first and most comprehensive in a series of films renewing Austrian cinema’s penchant for depicting self-destructive characters who teeter between desire and desperation. Uncool, uncalm, and very uncollected, Albert’s protagonists also suggest some buried, misdirected utopian energy. The story of Jasmin (Nina Proll), a white-trash queen from the projects who gives herself freely to the men around her, and her long-forgotten classmate Tamara (Edita Malovcic), the Viennese-born-and-raised daughter of Serbian immigrants, is woven into a tapestry of contemporary Vienna that certifies the city as a genuine melting pot for the first time since the 1930s. Jasmin’s and Tamara’s lovers include a young smartass from Romania who dreams about making it big in America, a soldier who has to guard the Austrian border from “illegal“ foreigners, and a Bosnian refugee who has managed to slip into the country at night. The fragile forms of solidarity among these characters convey their shared social/political marginalization—precisely at the moment when the right-wing coalition led by Jörg Haider’s racist Freedom Party had taken office. Austria’s politics have brightened since then, but Albert’s film still stands as a major achievement in cinema history, with its incisive look at life on Vienna’s wintry and unglamorous north side; its use of music and visual movement to portray a generation on the run; and the radiating intensity of its two lead actresses, with Proll winning the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the Venice Film Festival for her performance. Courtesy Lotus-Film. In German; English subtitles. 103 min.