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PARA:DIES

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by Elena Wolff

grade: 7.5

Para:Dies is an extremely elegant and intelligent work. A feature film that, in its ability to investigate the human soul, is very reminiscent of the cinema of the Nouvelle Vague, but which, at the same time, chooses its own form, revealing a marked personality. At the Diagonale’22.

A perfect world?

A little corner of Paradise. A tender love story. A world apart, almost completely isolated. In her debut film Para:Dies – which premiered at the Diagonale’22 , where the young and talented Julia Windischbauer was awarded Best Actress – director and actress Elena Wolff has recreated an apparently idyllic reality, in which poetic and strongly evocative atmospheres take centre stage from the very first minutes and transport us to a world in which everything seems to be (almost) perfect.

Jasmin (Windischbauer) and Lee (played by Elena Wolff herself) have been in a relationship for three years. One day they decide to spend some time in a small village in the Salzburg region, where Lee’s parents have a house. They are joined by Amira (Melanie Sidhu), a young filmmaker who wants to film them during their stay in order to make a documentary about them and their relationship. Soon, however, the situation will take an unexpected turn and likewise, old grudges and unsaid matters will come to light.

Para:Dies is an original and incisive docufiction, in which great emphasis is placed on feelings with all their many complex facets. Para:Dies is a tender love story judged by too many people. Para:Dies is an image of a present time in which the past is more alive than ever. Para:Dies is, at the same time, also a love triangle, in which the balance is so precarious that it risks breaking at any moment.

In her debut feature, Elena Wolff has dealt with all these elements in an entirely personal and original way. In fact, this small and important feature film of hers immediately stands out for its particular narrative structure, in which, alongside a first part with a purely documentary character, the situation suddenly changes in the finale. Director Amira, who had been filming the two protagonists the whole time, finally shows up in front of the camera, interacts with them, and also allows events to take a certain turn.

Particularly interesting in this respect is the relationship between Jasmin and Lee. Alone against the world, deeply in love, the two young women live almost like in a fairy tale. Yet, despite everything, a certain melancholy is the constant leitmotif of their days. A difficult past, never really forgotten, is just waiting to come to light. And it does so very slowly, as soon as the world of the two protagonists is ‘contaminated’ by external presences. Roles change, the dynamics between the three (later four) women become increasingly complex. Elena Wolff’s camera records every subtle expression on their faces, every glance, ensuring that the unsaid constantly makes its threatening presence be felt on the big screen.

Para:Dies is an extremely elegant and intelligent work. A feature film that, in its ability to investigate the human soul, is very reminiscent of the cinema of the Nouvelle Vague, but which, at the same time, chooses its own form, revealing a marked personality. A pleasant surprise in this rich and varied Diagonale’22.

Original title: Para:Dies
Directed by: Elena Wolff
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 76’
Genre: drama, romance
Cast: Julia Windischbauer, Elena Wolff, Selina Graf, Melanie Sidhu
Screenplay: Elena Wolff
Cinematography: Vivian Bausch, Ella Knorz
Produced by: Julia Windischbauer, Elena Wolff

Info: the page of Para:Dies on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Para:Dies on film.at