FISCHE

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by Raphaela Schmid

grade: 7.5

Pastel-coloured cinematography and an almost naïve characterisation of the protagonists and their gestures immediately give Fische a light, sensitive, almost carefree atmosphere, as if they were in a sort of dimension suspended in time. And this is the perfect counterpoint to the first lines of dialogue between the two young protagonists. All this because of a conflict that can only be overcome when a much-needed lightness is rediscovered.

A colourful aquarium

The young filmmaker Raphaela Schmid is not a new face at the Diagonale. After winning the Best Short Film Award in 2019 for her Ene Mene, she won the same, important award again for Fische at the Diagonale 2020. The film was presented to the audience again at the Viennale 2020, as part of the special section Diagonale’20 Collection – The Unifnished.

Out of the blue, the spectator finds himself in a dimension with an almost fairy-tale atmosphere, although the location itself is an ordinary Chinese restaurant. Inside a big aquarium, numerous goldfish swim around. Voices upon voices overlap in the background. Two siblings (Julia Franz Richter and Roman Binder) meet after a long time, following the death of their mother. While the one took care of her during her last days, the other distanced himself, preferring to run away from his responsibilities. Their relationship is immediately rather conflictual.

Fische, then, is the story of two siblings who have lost touch with each other and who try in every way to find each other again. And Raphaela Schmid, in this short and precious work of hers, has made communication in general and, specifically, the overlapping of various communicative levels the leitmotif of the entire discourse. Just as the numerous voices we hear at the opening of the short film or the occasional jokes of the various guests sitting at the tables on which, from time to time, the camera lingers, prove. And the fish in the aquarium, for their part, with their silence finally seem to have found an ideal harmony. Probably, to understand each other, there is often no need for many words.

Pastel-coloured cinematography, at times surreal and paradoxical situations and an almost naïve characterisation of the protagonists and their gestures immediately give Fische a light, delicate, almost carefree tone, as if one were in a sort of dimension suspended in time. And this provides the perfect counterpoint to the first lines of dialogue between the two young protagonists. All this because of a conflict that can only be overcome at the moment when a much-needed lightness is rediscovered, at the moment when people remember that they were children together, at the moment when simple fortune biscuits stand to give us some brief, amusing information about our destiny.

The fish in the aquarium all mingle with one another. They almost all look the same. And even if one of them were to die, in seeing all its companions swimming carefree, one almost gets the impression that it could live forever.

Intimate, tender and delicate, Fische in just a few minutes deals with important topics in a never banal or predictable way, remaining as light as a feather and as pleasant as a sip of fresh water. At the same time, the film reveals Raphaela Schmid’s impressive talent for staging intimate, personal stories and capturing every single aspect of human beings.

Original title: Fische
Directed by: Raphaela Schmid
Country/year: Austria / 2020
Running time: 17’
Genre: drama
Cast: Julia Franz Richter, Roman Binder, Marlene Hauser, Marie-Christine Crowder, Peter Pertussini, Lucia Campos, Lukas Weiss, Regis Mainka, Felix Kreutzer
Screenplay: Raphaela Schmid
Cinematography: Simone Hart
Produced by: Filmakademie Wien

Info: the page of Fische on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Fische on the website of the Viennale