2020

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by Friedl vom Gröller

grade: 7.5

2020 shows us what we have not been able to see in recent months. And it does so in an ironic but also highly provocative way. Friedl vom Gröller shows us an unusual 2020, a ‘forbidden’ 2020, which in sharp black and white almost takes on the connotations of a dream. At the Viennale 2021.

What we don’t see

A very strange year, 2020. A long, highly dramatic and alienating period that none of us could ever expect to experience one day. In 2020, a new way of understanding – and living – everyday life began, everyone started to reconsider their lives exclusively within their own homes, habits changed, the way of interacting with people changed. What did we miss most during 2020? Or, better still, what is it that, once we finally left home, we haven’t seen for a long, long time? Filmmaker, photographer and video artist Friedl vom Gröller has given us an unusual look back at the year just gone by with her short film 2020, premiered at the Viennale 2021, where the filmmaker is also present with another short film: Das Rad.

On the screen – in black and white – a mouth appears. An open mouth with some teeth missing. The person in question is at the dentist and is about to have a new denture implanted. Suddenly we see the same mouth with perfect teeth this time. And then yet another open mouth, then another and another again. In the street everyone wears masks. No one is allowed to show their mouth, except, of course, for the animals. And, indeed, one man finally proudly shows his dog’s teeth in front of the camera.

2020 shows us what we have not been able to see in recent months. And it does so in an ironic but also highly provocative way. Friedl vom Gröller shows us an unusual 2020, a ‘forbidden’ 2020, which in sharp black and white almost takes on the connotations of a dream. Shot entirely on film, the short film does not simply make fun of certain restrictions, but rather reveals itself to be strongly ‘angry’, ‘screaming’, desperately longing for freedom. And all the political potential of the film unfolds before our eyes in all its communicative power.

Friedl vom Gröller knows very well what to communicate to the viewer and how to do it. In this brief short film of hers, in fact, the director has immediately avoided staging the drama of the period, she has never spoken about the illness itself. Or, at least, she did not do so directly. And after a series of works all of a similar nature, here comes a film that shows us reality from a completely different perspective. An ‘unreal’ reality (who, in fact, has ever gone to the dentist during lockdown?), whose alienating effect is further accentuated by the lack of sound and a frenetic editing. The reality that Friedl vom Gröller wanted to model at will.

What, then, will become of human beings? The dentures shown at the end of the film with the director’s name written under them speak for themselves.

Original title: 2020
Directed by: Friedl vom Gröller
Country/year: Austria / 2021
Running time: 2’
Genre: experimental
Screenplay: Friedl vom Gröller
Cinematography: Friedl vom Gröller
Produced by: Friedl vom Gröller

Info: the page of 2020 on the website of the Viennale; the page of 2020 on the website of the sixpackfilm