For the Many – The Vienna Chamber of Labour is a fundamental document concerning the history of Vienna. An impressive, insightful and comprehensive fresco of a very important reality in everyday life. An essential film, which, together with the director’s previous works, almost gives us the idea of one of the many volumes of an encyclopaedia on Austria’s contemporary history that Wulff is slowly writing. At the Berlinale 2022.
While in the United States the major American realities and institutions are faithfully filmed by the camera of the great documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, in Austria this task is skilfully performed by director and film producer Constantin Wulff. Much younger than Wiseman, having made fewer documentaries, but equally attentive and sensitive in investigating what happens in front of his camera, Wulff has given us, in recent years, faithful and sincere portraits of realities that – before then – we did not know fully. This is the case, for example, of a maternity hospital in Vienna (in Into the World, made in 2009), of a psychiatric clinic for young people in Tulln (in Like the Others, from 2015), as well as of the Vienna Chamber of Labour, observed up close in the documentary For the Many – The Vienna Chamber of Labour, which had its world premiere at the Berlinale 2022 as part of the section Forum.
Every federal state in Austria has a Chamber of Labour. The Vienna Chamber of Labour, founded in 1920, is the largest of them all and takes care of thousands of workers every day. Constantin Wulff’s camera faithfully documents every moment when citizens of all ages and nationalities turn to this institution for help or legal support. There is no need for captions in For the Many – The Vienna Chamber of Labour. The pictures, the close-ups of the protagonists and their stories speak for themselves. And Costantin Wulff knows this well. Thanks to him, we too immediately feel part of that world. A world where people’s rights are finally being properly defended, where it is never too late to get redress for wrongs suffered, where the value of work is finally recognised as it deserves and where meetings, exhibitions and events are also organised, because if it is important to work in order to be able to buy bread, it is equally important to provide bread for our minds. A world where citizens are never left alone and – just as the slogan #fürimmer (#forever) indicates – will forever be protected.
Then, of course, there is the pandemic. The unexpected, terrible Covid-19 pandemic that broke out on the very occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chamber of Labour. Images of empty offices and video conferences take centre stage, but slowly give way to the first, cautious meetings, in which masks are an essential item, to say the least. For the Many – The Vienna Chamber of Labour also shows us this important period in history, in which the intent to pursue existing goals is stronger than ever, and in which, at the same time, new ideas and solutions are born.
And so this important documentary by Constantin Wulff immediately proves to be a fundamental document on the history of Vienna. An impressive, insightful and comprehensive fresco of a very important reality in everyday life. An essential film, which, together with the director’s previous works, almost gives us the idea of one of the many volumes of an encyclopaedia on Austria’s contemporary history that Wulff is slowly writing.
Original title: Für die Vielen – Die Arbeiterkammer Wien
Directed by: Constantin Wulff
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 120’
Screenplay: Constantin Wulff
Cinematography: Johannes Hammel, Michael Schindegger
Produced by: Navigator Film