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by Kurdwin Ayub

grade: 7.5

A strong sense of nihilism and coldness emerges from LOLOLOL. All this results in a short film that ranks as an excellent example of cinema of reality with a mise en scène of an underground film from the 1990s.


In the world in which we live, we are all, more or less, slaves of mobile phones. Between emoticons, slang, selfies and videos of all kinds, then, technology – and, consequently, the world of social media – has effectively become part of our everyday life. In this regard, the short film LOLOLOL, directed by Kurdwin Ayub, makes the smartphone its leading actor, documenting the evening of a young art student, 23-year-old Anthea Schranz. This work was supposed to be part of the Diagonale 2020 and, following the cancellation of the festival, was included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished.

Totally fascinated by the world of mobile phones and their potential also in filmmaking, the young director made this short documentary having fun in recreating 90s atmospheres without the need for an excessive post-production work.

And so, in a tight frame, with a format typical of smartphone footage, we first see the protagonist intent on making small installations inside her flat. Then, finally, it is time to go out. And so, together with a friend, she goes to a contemporary art exhibition, meeting, at the same time, other friends and colleagues.

And suddenly, the screen format returns to a classic 16:9, while the director’s camera (that of an iphoneX here handled by cinematographer Caroline Bobek) follows the two girls step by step in a Zavattini-like manner as they wander seemingly aimlessly through the large rooms of the place where they find themselves.

Diegetic music and indistinct chattering accompany them. And, at some point, the atmospheres are reminiscent, at times, of Barbara Albert’s cult film Sunspots, where, similarly to what happens in LOLOLOL, the protagonists seem almost lost, full of energy, eager to run away from everything and everyone, but unable, in fact, to find their own dimension.

Yet, compared to Albert’s previous work, there is a greater sense of nihilism, a greater coldness, in LOLOLOL. Almost as if the lives of the protagonists themselves had no real or, at least, well-defined purpose. This is shown by their frantic and restless wandering through the exhibition rooms, by their total disinterest in the works exhibited, as well as by their own conversations, most of which are totally irrelevant. Was it, perhaps, a few too many excesses that allowed them to find, if only for a few hours, a certain personal fulfilment? The answer is not long in coming. And it comes by returning, just a few hours later, to the same flat we saw at the opening. From this moment on, everything returns to how it was before. Even the claustrophobic format of the frames.

And Kurdwin Ayub, for her part, if, on the one hand, has managed in this work to fully exploit – and with a more than satisfactory final result – all the potential of this new medium, on the other hand, says a lot about what today’s society – and, specifically, the young people’s world – has become. And it does so in a blunt, sincere and disillusioned way. All this results in a short film that ranks as an excellent example of cinema of reality with a 1990s underground film mise-en-scene. Technology sometimes works wonders.

Original title: LOLOLOL
Directed by: Kurdwin Ayub
Country/year: Austria / 2020
Running time: 20’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Kurdwin Ayub, Markus Zizenbacher
Cinematography: Caroline Bobek
Produced by: Kurdwin Ayub

Info: the page of LOLOLOL on the website of the Diagonale; the page of LOLOLOL on