HOMEMAD(E)

      No Comments on HOMEMAD(E)

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Ruth Beckermann

grade: 8.5

Homemad(e) is a precious document of a world that was and a world that is. A journey through 20th-century Viennese history, through a series of images, faces and testimonies of those who, mindful of a sometimes painful past, have decided to tell their stories about Vienna entering a new millennium.

A little place in the heart of Vienna

There is a small street in the heart of Vienna where time seems to stand still. In this little street – the Marc-Aurel-Straβe – there are numerous shops with decades of experience. These are the businesses told by Ruth Beckermann in her Homemad(e), made in 2001 and, following the cancellation of the Diagonale 2020, included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished, as an ideal complement to the retrospective Sehnsucht 2020 – Eine kleine Stadterzählung.

The director – to date one of the most important contemporary Austrian documentary filmmakers – lives right on this street, close to the Danube Canal and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. All she had to do, therefore, was simply leave her house to undertake a journey through 20th-century Viennese history, through a series of images, faces and testimonies of those who, mindful of a sometimes painful past, have decided to tell their stories and narrate a Vienna that is about to enter a new millennium.

Homemad(e) is a precious document of a world that was and a world that is. And it is on this very street that some traders of Jewish or Persian origin saw history pass before their eyes. With extraordinary calm, then, the director listened to their stories. And so, the daily activities of the shopkeepers, as well as the breaks at the Café Salzgries of poets, filmmakers and pensioners are documented with a nostalgic and contemplative rhythm, perfectly capable of making us feel part of a world that until recently was still unknown to most.

There is no lack of emotional moments in Homemad(e) (as, for example, when a lady nostalgically remembers her youth), just as there is no lack of highly dramatic scenes (see, above all, the stories of those who were personally persecuted as Jews during the Second World War), without forgetting also rather ironic and funny moments (the relationship between the cloth merchant Doft and his wife is one example).

Ruth Beckermann, for her part, has been able, with a skilful minimal mise-en-scene, totally devoid of any music, to draw a lively and pulsating portrait of this small but very topical reality. A reality within which there is no lack of moments of melancholy, but where, when the day draws to a close, hope for a better future is always present. Despite every difficulty. Despite the latent racism still all too present within the society in which we live. And, above all, despite the fact that such latent racism made it possible for a personality like Jörg Haider – together with his FPÖ party – to come to power.

It is the optimism of the inhabitants of the Marc-Aurel-Straβe, at the end of the day, that rules. Together with Homemad(e), then, their precious testimonies make up a central element of Vienna’s history, as well as a very important historical and artistic document of the present day. And who better than Ruth Beckermann could have realised this? Thanks to her – and thanks to her camera, always ready to focus now on expressive and sincere faces, now on small details like a hat or a padlock resting on a shelf inside the aforementioned Café Salzgries – the Marc-Aurel-Straβe is always alive. And, now on the big screen, now on a small television screen or even just on a computer screen, it will certainly live forever.

Original title: Homemad(e)
Directed by: Ruth Beckermann
Country/year: Austria / 2001
Running time: 85’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Ruth Beckermann
Cinematography: Nurith Aviv, Ruth Beckermann, Peter Roehsler
Produced by: Ruth Beckermann

Info: the page of Homemad(e) on iMDb; the page of Homemad(e) on the website of Ruth Beckermann