In a marvellous mix of found footage, we’re invited to speculate about the lives and imaginations of passers-by in old documentary footage of street scenes from Vienna, Surabaya and Porto.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2005
Manipulating silent-era documentary footage of three city scenes, each tracking through the street life outside a cinema (in Vienna in 1912, Surabaya in 1929, Porto in 1930), Gustav Deutsch zooms in on the faces of various passers-by. Then, utilising other fragments of footage from the same times and places, he delves into their heads. Deutsch (Film ist…), a master of found-footage montage, meticulously constructs the most lateral of speculations about the vanished lives glimpsed in all manner of obscure material – be it children playing, a German stag film, or an enigmatic figure dancing in an empty room wearing animal costumes. Each section also brings sizeable clips from the films advertised on the banners outside the cinemas into the remarkable mix of documentary and historical fantasy. The soundtrack by electro-improv artists Fennesz and Stangl is a perfect accompaniment.
“Experimental in construction but accessible to all… Brilliantly manipulating found footage from the silent era, Gustav Deutsch views every inch of the frame as a window onto hidden lives.” — Jay Weissberg, Variety