Not only early cinema, but also advertising films and, of course, avant-garde cinema play the leading roles in Coming Attractions, as part of a series of “experiments” aimed at retracing all the most important stages in the history of the seventh art and paying homage to it in a reverent, but also funny and playful way. Orizzonti Award for Best Short Film at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.
All the Faces of Cinema
One of the most important names in contemporary Austrian (and world) avant-garde cinema is undoubtedly Peter Tscherkassky. For many years now, in fact, the director has enjoyed playing with the film medium in every possible way, each time giving us true milestones of experimental cinema. And cinema itself, in fact, has almost always been the great protagonist of his films, analysed every time in its tiniest aspect and manipulated through refined games of editing and superimposition. This was also the case in the film Coming Attractions, winner of the Orizzonti Award for Best Short Film at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.
As the title already suggests, therefore, Coming Attractions refers precisely to the Cinema of Attraction, that is, to the origins of cinema itself, when the viewer was still simply amazed to see moving images on screen. Images that spoke directly to the audience and that, involving them in a play of light, were combined in a different way each time thanks to an editing eager to experiment and discover new languages.
Therefore, not only early cinema, but also advertising films and, of course, avant-garde cinema are the absolute protagonists in Coming Attractions, as part of a series of ‘experiments’ aimed at retracing all the most important stages in film history and paying homage to it in a reverent, but also playful way.
Divided into eleven chapters, Coming Attractions consists of many clips taken mainly from advertising films and classics of film history. The negative image of a man looking through the rear-view mirror of his car opens the short film. Immediately afterwards, a woman seems to nod to him from her car. She repeats her movements almost mechanically (thanks, precisely, to editing) and seems destined to do so indefinitely. And indeed, while watching Coming Attractions, such repeated actions are performed by almost every character and in every chapter of the film. At the same time, a fine variety of approaches, now positive, now negative images, the holes in the film that from time to time appear at the side of the screen, and Dirk Schäfer’s music create something totally new. Something that, in the course of the film’s short running time, constantly surprises us.
The cinema of Georges Méliès, but also of Fernand Léger, of Pier Paolo Pasolini as well as of Birt Acres and Robert W. Paul are observed and reworked by Peter Tscherkassky with great reverence and, together with advertising footage, show us how early cinema (used to address the audience directly, involving them almost actively) has much more in common with advertising itself than it might initially seem. And so, Coming Attractions immediately proves to be a complex reflection on the cinematic image and its power in the society in which we live. Universal concepts find their highest expression precisely through cinema. Peter Tscherkassky knows how to communicate this to us. His precious little Coming Attractions is one of the many chapters on film history that he has been (re)writing for many years now.
Original title: Coming Attractions
Directed by: Peter Tscherkassky
Country/year: Austria / 2010
Running time: 25’
Screenplay: Peter Tscherkassky
Cinematography: Peter Tscherkassky
Produced by: Innovative Film Austria, Land Niederösterreich Kultur, P.O.E.T. Pictures