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KINDERFILM

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by Total Refusal

grade: 8

A powerful message of hope helps to make Kinderfilm an intelligent and never banal work, one that from well-known images manages to bring to life something totally new and topical. The Total Refusal collective once again hit the mark. At the Viennale 2023.

Where are the children?

For several years now, the Total Refusal collective has been distinguished by a series of highly experimental animated short films, in which images taken from the most famous video games have acquired a meaning totally different from what is normally expected in such a context, immediately giving rise to a critical and insightful reflection on the world we live in and on what society expects of us. This is also the case with Kinderfilm, which had its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival 2023 and its Austrian premiere at the Viennale 2023.

Kinderfilm, then, comes to life from the video game Grand Theft Auto V. Cars, as we can well imagine, play a central role here. And we see this already at the beginning of the short film, when a car, filmed from above, stops several times beside various buildings, the car door opens, but no one gets out or gets in. A few, colorful captions later introduce us the main character: Edgar, a man who spends practically his entire life in his car driving aimlessly around San Andreas and who for some time has had a strange feeling. Why is it that the world in which he lives seems lifeless? Why is it that people on the streets seem to move almost mechanically? And, above all, what happened to the children?

Kinderfilm tells of a world without a future in which the future itself, precisely, has been somewhat “replaced” by cars and in which criminal activities of all kinds are practically commonplace. Edgar feels uneasy. Yet when he suddenly sees a yellow school bus in the distance, he does everything in his power to reach it, finally abandoning his car, getting on it and heading to the beach, where a world of its own is waiting to be discovered (or rediscovered).

A strong lyricism and, as often happens in the collective’s works, also a subtle irony are some of the main elements that characterize Kinderfilm. The images from Grand Theft Auto V take on through fine directorial and editing work a whole new meaning. Characters who are normally only part of the set design and therefore cannot play are given special attention here. Numerous colorful balloons help create a special atmosphere that reminds us of the summers of our childhood. Dreamlike images in which past, present and future meet do the rest.

The future belongs to the children. This, however, seems to have long been forgotten. The Total Refusal collective, however, seems to offer a solution. Lots of babies populate the beach, and in their innocence they seem to have every chance to take control of the world we live in. A powerful message of hope, then, contributes to making this Kinderfilm an intelligent and never banal work, one that from well-known images manages to bring to life something totally new and topical. The Total Refusal collective once again hits the mark. And of their films, so critical of the world we live in, but also so witty and aesthetically sophisticated, we feel the need more and more.

Original title: Kinderfilm
Directed by: Total Refusal
Country/year: Austria / 2023
Running time: 11’
Genre: animation, experimental
Screenplay: Adrian Jonas Haim, Michael Stumpf, Robin Klengel
Cinematography: Adrian Jonas Haim, Robin Klengel
Produced by: Total Refusal, Forum Stadtpark

Info: the page of Kinderfilm on iMDb; the page of Kinderfilm on the website of the Viennale; the page of Kinderfilm on the website of the collective Total Refusal