by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel
That’s All è is an exciting and moving journey between past and present, in which fragments of everyday life are shown to us almost like old photographs. Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel have once again brought to life on screen a reality that almost seems to belong to a world apart. Once again, as usual in their works, what is told to us almost takes on the character of a fairy tale.
Once upon a time…
In the small Russian village of Jasnaja Poljana, in the Kaliningrad region, formerly North Prussia, there are small rural houses, a discotheque, a grocery shop and several small craft workshops. That’s all, as a young inhabitant said. The simplicity of everyday life, the value of every gesture and every habit, the desire for a peaceful and serene present and the memory of a bygone time, therefore, are the absolute protagonists in the documentary That’s All, directed by renowned directors Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel in 2001.
Numerous families, mainly from Kazakhstan, moved to this village after World War II. Mr. Deis cultivates a small plot of land and explains to the camera which herbs can damage his harvest. Meanwhile, Mrs. Deis mainly cooks and enjoys telling anecdotes from the past about her family and her two daughters. Viktor Benz has always had a passion for electronics, just like his father. Used to repair small household appliances for his neighbours, the man also builds aeroplanes and even dreams at night about what other objects he could build. Finally, Nadja and Alexej have lived in the village since the 1950s and together, as they lovingly tease each other, they recall the years gone by, regret the old government and recount their days.
They are, therefore, some of the protagonists of this little and interesting That’s All. Men and women with an important past behind them, who have finally found serenity in a simple rural reality, where there is no need for anything but the bare minimum to live. Cheerful traditional music played by one of them on an accordion enriches the precious moments filmed by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel’s camera. Each of the characters, perfectly in the middle of the frame, tells us each time his or her own story, and everything is made even more impressive by purely contemplative long shots, in which large cultivated fields, village streets and grazing animals are the absolute protagonists, together with the colours and sounds that nature has to offer.
Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel show us a small reality where time seems to stand still and is slowly marked by daily rituals, such as shaving with an old manual razor (‘which will never break, unlike modern electronic razors’) or cooking a traditional Kazakh dish. And while a group of children smiling awkwardly in front of the camera not knowing what to say gives the whole thing an ironic and playful touch, moments in which silence reigns supreme fully render the atmosphere of the village.
That’s All is a precious document telling of a reality that few people know about. An exciting and moving journey between past and present, in which fragments of everyday life are shown to us almost like old photographs. Once again, the two directors have brought to life on screen a reality that almost seems to belong to a world apart, making us feel part of it too. Once again, as usual in their works, what is told to us almost takes on the character of a fairytale. A fairytale that does not need any spells or fantasy characters to be made even more precious.
Original title: Das ist Alles
Directed by: Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel
Country/year: Austria / 2001
Running time: 98’
Screenplay: Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel
Cinematography: Rainer Frimmel
Produced by: Vento Film