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RE-BIRDING

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by Michaela Schwentner

grade: 8

With a minimalist and at the same time sophisticated directorial approach, this interesting and precious re-BIRDING immediately becomes utopia. An image of an ideal world in which we have finally come to understand the importance of what nature has to offer us and all the living beings that populate our world. At the Diagonale 2024.

“You may say I’m a dreamer…”

Colonialism. Capitalism. The exploitation of the environment in which we live. How long have we carried out actions that damage not only our world, but also many living beings that inhabit it? And, above all, are there possible solutions to limit the damage and to all live together peacefully? In re-BIRDING, which had its world premiere at the Diagonale 2024 as part of the section Innovatives Kino, filmmaker Michaela Schwentner retraced some of the most significant events that have forever damaged certain species of birds, seeking, in her own way, also a possible solution to the damage perpetrated by humans for a long, long time.

We are, therefore, initially in an almost ‘neutral’ environment, in a film studio. Some women wear colourful costumes while being made up for the occasion. The colours of their costumes form a strong contrast to the black background, resulting even brighter, with an undoubtedly magnetic appeal. Each of the protagonists represents a long-extinct bird species, and in bringing it to life again on the movie screen, they pay tribute to it in a sincere and reverent way. At the same time, a voice-over tells us about the main events that, in the past, marked the end of certain realities.

Interestingly, in re-BIRDING the approach changes as one approaches the end. Divided into two parts, dealing respectively with the past and the present, the film initially seems almost like a funeral song (as the colours of the film set also remind us). The figures of the protagonists stand out in the background and, at the same time, seem almost like elements apart, totally ‘detached’, far away from the world in which we live. As if they were now almost supernatural creatures. Yet, their colours are still alive and pulsating. What they were is probably destined to live forever. At least on a movie screen.

Then, as one approaches the present, everything changes. Now in re-BIRDING the contrast between the characters and the background is no longer so stark. Now the colours themselves are more delicate. Now the sunlight illuminates everything, the film set is abandoned, the birds are no longer catalogued in a scientific way, now we are finally in the open air, in the open countryside, perfectly in harmony with our surroundings. Numerous coloured fabrics are placed around the branches of trees, almost as if to bandage wounds. Now it is time to repair the damage of the past, to look for new ways in which we can all live together.

And so, with a minimalist and at the same time sophisticated directorial approach, in which there is no lack of moments of metacinema and reflections on the mise-en-scène itself, this interesting and precious re-BIRDING immediately becomes utopia. An image of an ideal world in which we have finally come to understand the importance of what nature has to offer us and all the living beings that populate our world. Will we ever be able to reach such an earthly paradise? Unfortunately, today, we cannot know. In the meantime, however, images of pure beauty can give rise to important reflections on the subject.

Original title: re-BIRDING
Directed by: Michaela Schwentner
Country/year: Austria / 2023
Running time: 26’
Genre: experimental
Cast: Aurelia Burckhardt, Christine Gnigler, Juli Müllner, Maja Osojnik, Karolina Preuschl, Anat Stainberg
Screenplay: Michaela Schwentner
Cinematography: Martin Putz, Michaela Schwentner
Produced by: Michaela Schwentner

Info: the page of re-BIRDING on the website of the Diagonale; the page of re-BIRDING on the website of Michaela Schwentner