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PALMER

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by Friedl vom Gröller

grade: 7.5

Rudimentary black-and-white and images shot exclusively on film are further protagonists in Palmer. Friedl vom Gröller has an unmistakable style and with her essential approach she manages to give each individual frame a profound meaning every time. At the Viennale 2023.

What we don’t see

Throughout her long and prolific career, renowned filmmaker and photographer Friedl vom Gröller has never been afraid to deal with controversial and even highly provocative topics. And often, to this end, there is not even a need for words, but, as usual in her works, it is the images themselves that speak for themselves. This, then, is also the case with the short film Palmer, which had its Austrian premiere at the Viennale 2023.

A few simple shots create powerful images that can have countless interpretations. A man is standing in front of the camera wearing only his pants. We cannot see his face, only his body. Suddenly, from behind him appear the arms of a woman, whom we never actually see. The woman slowly begins to pull down the man’s pants. It only takes a few shots before she pulls them down completely. Then, as usual, FvG, the director’s own signature, is shown before the camera.

What must Friedl vom Gröller have wanted to communicate to us with this unusual and minimalist Palmer? One of the most convincing interpretations that can be given to this work is a kind of polemic against patriarchy. Patriarchy is constantly part of our everyday life and of the society we live in. Even when it is initially ‘hidden’. But how much longer can such patriarchy last? The clock we are shown in the course of the screening would seem to speak for itself.

Rudimentary black-and-white and images shot exclusively on film are further protagonists in Palmer. Friedl vom Gröller has an unmistakable style and with her essential approach she manages to give every single frame a profound meaning. Pure cinema, but also early cinema that, at the same time, always manages to be highly topical. Even at the expense of being shocking.

Yet, in Palmer (as in each of her films), there is also no lack of welcome irony. Irony and self-irony often accompany the viewer during the screening. Cinema is past, present, provocation, but also fun. Friedl vom Gröller knows this well. And although the themes she deals with are often quite sensitive, one must never forget to observe everything lightly. In Palmer, patriarchy is directly attacked. Cinema, for its part, has the power to show us every time how things really are. Without any filter. And only the attentive eye of the camera is able to grasp every hidden meaning.

Original title: Palmer
Directed by: Friedl vom Gröller
Country/year: Austria / 2023
Running time: 3’
Genre: experimental
Screenplay: Friedl vom Gröller
Cinematography: Friedl vom Gröller
Produced by: Friedl vom Gröller

Info: the page of Palmer on the website of the Viennale; the page of Palmer on the website of the sixpackfilm