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DOPPELGÄNGER

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by Michaela Taschek

grade: 7

Doppelgänger is a heartfelt farewell letter to a person who is no longer with us. An extremely intimate and personal documentary that relies entirely on a simple and direct, but also well thought-out directorial approach. At the Viennale 2022, section Österreich real.

A double life

In 2014, Erich Taschek, father of director Michaela Taschek died suddenly. Yet, the director is convinced that he did not, in fact, pass away at that very moment. The man had probably been replaced some 20 years earlier by a double. This theory was the starting point for the short documentary Doppelgänger, which was re-presented to the audience at the Viennale 2022, as part of the Filmarchiv Austria’s retrospective Österreich real.

What happens when someone leaves for good? And more importantly, what if a double of this person (if not the person himself) is still walking around the town? According to Michaela Taschek, her father could still walk around the streets of the town where he lived, without anyone being able to recognise him, and the person who died was not actually him.

In Doppelgänger, therefore, a sincere and touching portrait of Erich Taschek is drawn. Through old family films, photographs or simple footage of her parents’ home, Michaela Taschek processes her mourning by affectionately remembering her father, telling us how he was lively and always ready to party with friends as a young man and how, once married and father of two, he became increasingly quiet and taciturn. It is precisely from these two “versions” of Erich Taschek, therefore, that the theory that, in reality, they were two different people comes to life. And in Doppelgänger, this unusual, tender story is told in a completely intimate and subjective way.

The director’s voice tells us what happened the day her father died and almost confides to us about the special relationship she had with him, even though she had not lived in her parents’ house for years. Details of the kitchen table where her mother and father used to sit to have breakfast and read the newspaper together. The corridor of their house. The bathroom floor where Erich died suddenly that June morning. Reviewing that sad day minute by minute, the filmmaker goes back in time and her footage gives way to photographs and Super 8 films showing us her father when he was still a student, her newly married parents and even the filmmaker herself as a child.

Doppelgänger is a heartfelt farewell letter to a person who is no longer with us. An extremely intimate and personal documentary that relies on a simple and direct directorial approach that is also studied down to the smallest detail. There is no need for anything else to communicate what Michaela Taschek wanted to stage. The footage shot on the streets of the city shows us many people intent on their daily activities. What if one of them really were the director’s father, who many years earlier started a new life without telling his family about it? It is often simply good to believe the impossible.

Original title: Doppelgänger
Directed by: Michaela Taschek
Country/year: Austria / 2018
Running time: 20’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Michaela Taschek
Cinematography: Michaela Taschek
Produced by: Michaela Taschek

Info: the page of Doppelgänger on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Doppelgänger on the website of the sixpackfilm; the page of Doppelgänger on the website of the Viennale