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WHERE MY GRANDFATHER USED TO SIT

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This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Lorenz Zenleser

grade: 7.5

Where does fiction begin and reality end? And it is precisely in reflecting on the concept of fiction and reality that our beloved cinema is also brought into play in Where my Grandfather used to sit. At the Vienna Shorts 2024.

Forever immortal

What remains when a person we have loved so much is no longer there? How does the place where this person lived for many and many years change? Often, what remains is an empty house in which silence reigns and in which, even if you concentrate, you can no longer hear any noise except for sounds from outside. Director Lorenz Zenleser knows something about this. In his intense short film Where my Grandfather used to sit – presented as part of the Vienna Shorts 2024 programme in the section ÖW – “Österreich Wettbewerb” – he showed us the house in Bolzano where his grandfather Paul lived practically all his life.

Where my Grandfather used to sit, therefore, immediately stands out for its extremely simple and direct directorial approach. Lorenz Zenleser’s camera remains constantly fixed on showing us, each time, the empty rooms of Paul’s house, details of shelves full of shoes, old photographs, magazine racks and, above all, the sofa where the man used to sit and where the director himself often sat with him and his entire family. Silence reigns. Only in the background can noises from the street be heard. In Where my Grandfather used to sit there is not even place for a voice over. It is up to a few captions to tell us the story of the protagonist.

In the last years of his life, Paul used to tell many stories. Stories about his childhood, the war, the various changes his town experienced and even his meeting with the woman who would later become his wife. But were all these stories true? Where does fiction begin and reality end? And it is precisely in reflecting on the concept of fiction and reality that cinema is also brought into play in Where my Grandfather used to sit. Lorenz Zelneser had spoken to his grandfather about his work as a filmmaker. But his grandfather, too, had made numerous films in Super 8 in his time. One film in particular, however, seemed lost forever. A film shot by Paul during a holiday, where numerous sunsets were filmed.

Then, magically, magic happens: after Paul’s death, the film is found inside a wardrobe. Lorenz Zenleser can finally watch it (and show it to us). And so, the second part of this short and precious Where my Grandfather used to sit is entirely dedicated to the aforementioned film, of which we are only shown the sunsets, one after the other. Sunsets that here contextualised immediately acquire metaphorical significance. Life and death. But after death, a new day always begins. To cinema, then, the important task of making all this immortal. The director’s grandfather is no longer alive, yet he and his personal way of observing the world, precisely through this short film, but also through the films he made, will live on, in one way or another, forever.

Original title: Where my Grandfather used to sit
Directed by: Lorenz Zenleser
Country/year: Austria / 2023
Running time: 9’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Lorenz Zenleser
Cinematography: Lorenz Zenleser, Paul Zenleser
Produced by: Lorenz Zenleser

Info: the page of Where my Grandfather used to sit on the website of the Vienna Shorts