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by Andreas Buciuman and Dominik Bochis

grade: 5.5

In Austria2Australia, an overly selective editing – together with a practically omnipresent music, which contributes to giving the whole thing a purely television character – makes the entire film lose much of its verve and personality. Despite its many potentials.

Two on two wheels

There are journeys that remain forever in the heart and mind. And, again, there are journeys that even change one’s life forever. And the journey undertaken by young filmmakers Andreas Buciuman and Dominik Bochis and reported in the documentary Austria2Australia – completed and released in Austrian cinemas in 2020 – is to all intents and purposes one of these. What is so special about this journey? Simple: due to their great passion for cycling, the two young men decided to cycle from Austria – starting from a small village near Linz – to Australia itself, for a total of around 18,000 kilometres travelled, nineteen countries crossed and a good eleven months on the road.

An undertaking, this one, undoubtedly noteworthy. And indeed, during their not-so-easy journey, the two young men immediately managed to acquire a good number of followers via their social pages, to the point of even being recognised at airports or being followed, for a short distance, by a group of equally enthusiastic cyclists. Just as happened in the now famous Forrest Gump with a group of runners.

What, however, is – or would be – most interesting in Austria2Australia is precisely the hard work of the two filmmakers, their temporary life as nomads, their numerous encounters with people and the different cultures of the places, with all the problems and beautiful surprises that such a situation can provide.

Given this, we realise how much potential a work like Austria2Australia can have. The tricky thing, however, is knowing how to exploit it to the full. And at this point, given the particular story told here, one has to detach oneself for a moment from the mise-en-scene itself and ask oneself how the audience would like to experience this particular film. Needless to say, the ideal would be to have the impression of experiencing it first-hand, thanks to an approach as close as possible to cinema of reality. And here come the first problems.

Given the many hours of filming and the large amount of footage available, it is above all essential editing that gives the finished film its character. In Austria2Australia, however, it is precisely this last stage of processing that is particularly weak. Dynamic and adrenalin-fuelled editing is welcome. After all, such a choice is perfectly in line with what is being told. Also welcome is a touch of pleasant irony and lightness in the background: this fully mirrors the mood of the two boys, their energy and their young age. And yet, given the strong potential of the story, it is precisely an excessively selective editing – combined with a practically omnipresent music that gives the whole thing a purely television character – that makes the entire film lose much of its verve.

We would certainly like to spend even more time with the two boys during their unique encounters in foreign countries. Just as we would like to experience even better the essence of the various cultures they encounter. Yet, here, everything happens fast. Too fast. So fast that not even tension-filled moments, such as when Dominik is forced to go to hospital with a knee inflammation, or when they are both forced to take a plane from Nepal to Thailand, not being able to get through Singapore, provide the necessary suspense.

And immediately, Andreas Horvath’s far more successful Lillian (2019) comes to mind. Here, too, the wanderings of a young woman through the vast territory of the United States were staged – albeit in a fictional feature film. Here, too, numerous dangers stood in her way. Here too, nomadic life was examined in all its aspects. Yet, in this case, the audience entered the heart of the matter, walked with her, went hungry with her, suffered with her. And Andreas Horvath’s past as a documentary filmmaker undoubtedly contributed to giving the whole thing a distinct and effective realism.

Getting back to Austria2Australia, we find a totally different situation. And precisely because we are not talking about a fictional film, one would expect a greater connection to reality. In this case, however, it is really too much to hope that the documented story speaks for itself. The experienced touch of a director is more necessary than ever. Does this underachievement depend, perhaps, on the fact that Andreas Buciuman and Dominik Bochis still have very little experience behind the camera? Only time will tell.

Original title: Austria2Australia
Directed by: Andreas Buciuman, Dominik Bochis
Country/year: Austria / 2020
Running time: 88’
Genre: documentary, adventure
Screenplay: Andreas Buciuman, Dominik Bochis
Cinematography: Andreas Buciuman, Dominik Bochis
Produced by: Aichholzer Filmproduktion

Info: the website of Austria2Australia; the page of Austria2Australia on iMDb