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MY SENTENCE

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by Amina Handke

grade: 8

Divided into two parts, My Sentence cleverly plays with images and perceptions. Images of planets alternate with scenes in which we see the protagonist mirrored in a theatre dressing room, in her bed or in front of a ticket machine in the underground. Amina Handke has handled all these elements to create a work that, although inspired by the famous play Kaspar by Peter Handke, has a marked personality. At the Viennale 2022.

From father to daughter

It is not easy to make a film transposition of one of the works of the famous writer, playwright and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2019 Peter Handke. It is not easy, but neither is it impossible, especially if one knows such works to perfection and is perfectly capable of handling them to one’s liking, giving them each time totally new forms. Such a complex operation was carried out, for instance, by Peter’s daughter, Amina Handke, who presented her debut feature film, My Sentence, inspired by the play Kaspar, written by her father in 1967, at the Viennale 2022.

Kaspar was inspired by the life of Kaspar Hauser and thus focused on the power of language and how it can be an instrument of manipulation by a society that wants us more and more conformist. In My Sentence, the director chose a female protagonist – played by her own mother, the actress Libgart Schwarz – initially giving life to an intimate family portrait that soon turns into a much more complex discourse concerning the power of language, its deconstruction and its sudden loss.

The story staged, then, is that of a no longer young woman who, precisely on the eve of Kaspar‘s theatrical performance, loses her linguistic abilities. From this moment onwards, the film takes a completely abstract and anti-narrative direction, cinema and meta-cinema meet together with moments filmed directly in theatre or scenes filmed in the middle of a forest, while the protagonist is walking with a donkey.

There are apparently no rules in My Sentence. Just as is the case with language and the numerous sentences repeated by the protagonist over and over again and with all possible variations, the film also seems to follow its own path, categorically rejecting any pre-established scheme. Yet, at the same time, everything is studied down to the smallest detail. The director, in fact, starting from her father’s original text, made a series of cuts and changes in order to make not only a film about the power of language from a social point of view, but also a film with her mother and for her mother. An extremely intimate and personal film that also deals with the theme of old age and loss of control in an extremely sensitive and never banal way.

Divided into two distinct parts, My Sentence cleverly plays with images and perceptions. Images of planets alternate with scenes in which we see the protagonist mirrored in a theatre dressing room, in her bed or even – in the film’s opening – in front of a ticket machine in the underground. Amina Handke has handled all these elements to create a work that, although inspired by one of the most famous Austrian comedies of the last century, also boasts its own, marked personality. A work that is not at all “afraid” of the source text and that, on the whole, presents itself as a true declaration of love to the actress Libgart Schwarz. A tender mother-daughter relationship in an extremely sophisticated and stratified film.

Original title: Mein Satz
Directed by: Amina Handke
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 85’
Genre: drama, experimental
Cast: Libgart Schwarz, Helga Illich, Caroline Peters
Screenplay: Amina Handke
Cinematography: Marianne Andrea Borowiec
Produced by: FAD

Info: the page of My Sentence on the website of the Viennale; the page of My Sentence on the website of Amina Handke; the page of My Sentence on iMDb