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WILL HAVE BEEN

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by Sasha Pirker

grade: 8

In Will Have Been, spaces are observed with extreme respect, their every aspect is enhanced by a few simple tracking shots and details. Nostalgia, but also a welcome irony take centre stage as Lilli Breuer-Guttmann tells us about her father, the Viennese artist Heinz Frank. At the Viennale 2022.

At Heinz’s place

The flat of the Viennese artist Heinz Frank (1939 – 2020) is only 30 square metres in size. Yet, inside, one can fully understand the essence of his works and his very personality. And indeed, the short film Will have been, directed by Sasha Pirker and premiered in Austria on the occasion of the Viennale 2022, presents itself not only as a heartfelt homage to Frank, but also as a singular portrait of him. An intimate and personal portrait told by his own daughter, Lilli Breuer-Guttmann.

The red and white walls of Heinz Frank’s flat seem, at first, almost like abstract images. The camera moves slowly and extremely reverently. A voice begins to tell us about that singular environment: the voice of Frank’s daughter, who soon appears before the camera and, together with us, begins a kind of “journey” into her father’s world, telling us about his habits, little anecdotes about their relationship and also showing us a big notebook containing some of his drawings.

Will have been, then, is a faithful and loving portrait of someone who, although absent, makes himself felt on screen with his important presence. It is a letter addressed to a person who is no longer with us, almost like a natural fulfilment of the works that the artist realised throughout his life. His flat is small, but extremely cosy, functional and personal. In every corner we can see how the artist had studied everything down to the smallest detail, so as to also create an optimal environment for working.

Interestingly, Sasha Pirker is particularly at home when it comes to filming rooms or buildings. Cinema and architecture always find an excellent combination in her films, and in the depiction of environments as abstract figures we see how each element immediately acquires three-dimensionality. Just think, for instance, of the documentary The Future will not be capitalist (2010), in which the Communist Party headquarters in Paris, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, was closely observed.

In Will Have Been, rooms are observed with equal respect, their every aspect is enhanced by a few simple tracking shots and details. Nostalgia, but also a welcome irony take centre stage as Lilli Breuer-Guttmann tells us about her father, as she leafs through his notebook, as she measures his height on the walls, expertly wood-panelled up to where, indeed, Heinz Frank was tall. And at the end of the film we immediately feel close to the figure of the protagonist, although we have never seen him.

An operation, this one, undoubtedly courageous, since it is not easy to make a person we never see so alive on screen. A similar approach had been taken, successfully, by Gastón Solnicki in his documentary Introduzione all’Oscuro (2018), dedicated to the recently deceased Viennale director Hans Hurch, in which objects, postcards and photographs perfectly represented what Hurch had been in life. In Will Have Been the protagonist lives through his home. And at the end of the film we almost have the impression that we have met him at least once in our life.

Original title: Gewesen sein wird
Directed by: Sasha Pirker
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 17’
Genre: documentary, experimental
Cast: Lilli Breuer-Guttmann
Screenplay: Sasha Pirker
Cinematography: Ortrun Bauer
Produced by: Sasha Pirker

Info: the page of Will have been on the website of the Viennale; the page of Will have been on the website of Sasha Pirker; the page of Will have been on the website of the sixpackfilm