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by Jaqueline Rauter and Jo Cazzee

grade: 6.5

Rettl sich wer kann stands out for its sparkling rhythm and its marked, pleasant irony and self-irony. Constant music accompanies us during this bizarre and original journey and, together with old photographs, interviews with the company owners and archive footage, makes this particular experience lively and cheerful. At the K3 Film Festival 2023.

In Austria earlier than in Scotland

Everyone knows that the kilt is a traditional Scottish garment. But what if it wasn’t? What if, instead, long before the kilt became part of Scottish tradition, it was even invented in another nation? It seems, then, that already the Celts of central Europe had travelled through Austria before finally migrating to Scotland. Similarly, an original piece of tartan preserved in the Natural History Museum in Vienna may confirm that the kilt spread first to Austria than to Scotland. This, then, is also what Thomas Rettl, owner of the textile company Rettl in Villach, which has been producing clothing for everyone since 1868 using the famous fabric, claims. The story of this legendary company, therefore, is told for the first time on film in the documentary Rettl sich wer kann, directed by Jacqueline Rauter together with Jo Cazzee and presented as part of the programme of the K3 Film Festival 2023.

In Rettl sich wer kann, therefore, we witness the history of the legendary textile company from its origins around the end of the 19th century, and we also get to know more about the same family that started it all. Similarly, in parallel, many colourful images on a journey to different corners of the world tell us the history of textiles, show us how they are used and conceived from time to time and what they represent in the collective imagination.

Rettl sich wer kann immediately stands out, therefore, for its particularly sparkling rhythm and its distinct, pleasant irony and self-irony. Constant music accompanies us during this bizarre and original journey and, together with old photographs, interviews with the owners of the company and footage from events and concerts, makes this particular experience on the movie screen particularly lively and cheerful.

We agree: Rettl sich wer kann can at times be a little naive in its staging and with a purely television character. But that’s OK. On the other hand, a particularly original staging that is decidedly ‘free’ of any possible stereotypes is just the right way to tell an unusual story that few people outside Austria know, but which has had and still has so much importance for Villach and Carinthia.

But then, back to the original question, where did the kilt really come from? From Austria or from Scotland? What is told in Rettl sich wer kann leaves no doubt about it. And all of us, in one way or another, feel proud of this little, important textile company that has been a source of pride for its Austria for a hundred and fifty-five years.

Original title: Rettl sich wer kann
Directed by: Jaqueline Rauter, Jo Cazzee
Country/year: Austria / 2023
Running time: 60’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Jaqueline Rauter
Cinematography: Jo Cazzee
Produced by: Melanie Schmidt

Info: the page of Rettl sich wer kann on the website of the K3 Film Festival