suddenly-a-strike-1978-auf-amol-a-streik-aichholzer-beckermann-recensione

SUDDENLY, A STRIKE

      No Comments on SUDDENLY, A STRIKE

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Josef Aichholzer and Ruth Beckermann

grade: 7.5

In Suddenly, a Strike the camera of Josef Aichholzer and Ruth Beckeremann is immediately close to the workers. Filmed in 16mm and totally in black and white, the documentary includes footage shot directly by the directors during workers’ meetings or while they are intent on entering the factory, as well as single frames of the factory owners and short animation inserts by the late Manfred Deix. At the Viennale 2022 within the retrospective Österreich real.

The word to the workers

From April 17 to May 11, 1978, in Austria took place the longest strike since the end of World War II. On this occasion, some workers at the Semperit tyre factory in the town of Traiskirchen in Lower Austria organised a series of protests and negotiations – also supported by the trade union – in order to obtain better wages. Their protests, their meetings, and the responses of the factory owners were documented by filmmakers Josef Aichholzer and Ruth Beckermann in their short documentary Suddenly, a Strike, presented to the audience at the Viennale 2022, as part of the retrospective Österreich real, organised by the Filmarchiv Austria.

In Suddenly, a Strike, therefore, the camera of the two directors is immediately close to the workers. A few, short questions serve to give them a voice and make the audience understand their motivations and needs. Filmed in 16mm and entirely in black and white, the documentary includes footage shot directly by Aichholzer and Beckermann during the workers’ meetings or while they are entering the factory, as well as single frames of the factory owners, but also – and this is very precious – short animation inserts and caricatures made by the late cartoonist Manfred Deix.

Numerous workers are about to enter the factory gates. What does this remind us of? It is impossible not to think of the very famous painting The Fourth Estate, painted by Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo between 1898 and 1901, but also – and above all – of what is considered the first film in film history: La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière, made by the Lumière brothers in 1895 and showing the employees of the Lumière factory intent on leaving the gates at the end of a long working day.

Interestingly, Suddenly, a Strike, however, contrasts strongly with the film of the famous film pioneers. In La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière, in fact, we notice how the workers, despite a hard working day behind them, seem happy and smiling on their way home. Although the concept of filmmaking had not yet been explored in depth at the time, the Lumière brothers knew exactly what message to convey to the audience (and how to advertise their own factory). In Suddenly, a Strike, of course, we are faced with a totally different situation. Here, the workers are fierce, determined to assert their rights, but also disillusioned by the constant, exhausting negotiations with their bosses.

Josef Aichholzer and Ruth Beckermann rendered their feelings and their desire for a better life well on screen. In Suddenly, a Strike there is no need for anything else to convey the idea of that particular historical moment. An extremely simple and direct approach proved to be the right solution. The same applies to music, which is only sporadically included in the documentary, but often serves to emphasise rather grotesque situations (particularly noteworthy, in fact, is the moment when we can even hear Johann Strauss’s The Blue Danube played in a caricatured way). In just twenty-four minutes, therefore, the two directors have successfully depicted an essential moment in the history of Austria. The image of many people who are not afraid to fight every day and to make their voice heard.

Original title: Auf amol a Streik
Directed by: Josef Aichholzer, Ruth Beckermann
Country/year: Austria / 1978
Running time: 24’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Josef Aichholzer, Ruth Beckermann
Cinematography: Josef Aichholzer, Ruth Beckermann, Manfred Deix
Produced by: Filmladen

Info: the page of Suddenly, a Strike on the website of Ruth Beckermann; the page of Suddenly, a Strike on the website of the sixpackfilm; the page of Suddenly, a Streik on the website of the Filmarchiv Austria