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by Julia Gutweniger and Florian Kofler

grade: 7.5

In Vista Mare everything is shown to us “from behind the scenes”. The workers are the great protagonists of this interesting documentary by Julia Gutweniger and Florian Kofler. Perfectly static shots – true pictures that, together, create a visually striking harmony – prove to be the right way to show us a reality that is only apparently idyllic. At the Locarno Film Festival 2023.


Almost reminiscent of Ulrich Seidl‘s images of foggy Rimini, the beaches shown to us at the opening of the documentary Vista Mare. Yes, because, in fact, the two directors Julia Gutweniger and Florian Kofler first show us how renowned holiday resorts on the Adriatic coast appear in winter, when numerous workers begin preparations for the summer. Their Vista Mare – premiered at the Locarno Film Festival 2023, in the Semaine de la Critique section – shows us, therefore, “what we do not see”, a reality experienced first-hand by those who do everything possible so that tourists from all over the world can enjoy the best possible holidays. But is this reality really so idyllic? Soon said.

A perfect elliptical structure shows us the most famous beaches of the Adriatic still damaged by the winter that has just passed. Meaningful, minimalist music (by Gabriela Gordillo) immediately makes us realise that what we are going to see does not at all correspond to everyone’s idea of summer holidays. Some workers are about to clean beaches with excavators. And while inside a factory deckchairs and beach umbrellas are being prepared, we also see how various advertising leaflets are made.

In Vista Mare, therefore, everything is shown to us “from behind the scenes”. The workers are the great protagonists of this interesting documentary by Julia Gutweniger and Florian Kofler. The tourists, on the other hand, are only part of “the decor” and add colour to the scenes filmed during the summer months. Thus, perfectly static shots – real pictures that, as a whole, create a visually captivating harmony – proved to be the right solution to show us an apparently idyllic reality, which is, in reality, much more merciless than it may initially seem. Yes, because, in fact, it is the workers – often without contracts or days off – who are the real ‘slaves’ of this system that has been established for many years now. Just as is further stated during the scene of a street protest.

Julia Gutweniger and Florian Kofler, for their part, were able to show us all this with great stylistic maturity and communicative competence. Particularly interesting, therefore, is the choice of omitting any possible caption or interview with the protagonists. The images simply speak for themselves. And, within a precise and well-calibrated narrative structure, they can often appear very, very cruel.

Vista Mare, therefore, speaks volumes. And, at the same time, it provides further evidence of the talent of the two young directors from Merano, who have been active for several years within the Villa Mondeo collective and who, with this important documentary of theirs, have created something that treasures what has been made in the past (in particular, the beautiful documentary Bojo Beach, directed by Elke Groen in 2017, would come to mind, just to give one example), but which, at the same time, has managed to find its own style and communicative effectiveness. A work that also bodes well for the future works that both will present to us in the future.

Original title: Vista Mare
Directed by: Julia Gutweniger, Florian Kofler
Country/year: Austria, Italy / 2023
Running time: 80’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Julia Gutweniger, Florian Kofler
Cinematography: Julia Gutweniger
Produced by: Eutopiafilm, Albolina Film

Info: the page of Vista Mare on iMDb; the page of Vista Mare on the website of the Locarno Film Festival