Scenes From a Forest
A 2015 | 30 min | HD 16:9 | colour | stereo | english subtitles

“I wander around with no place to go, for no good reason”, says the voice in Annja Krautgasser’s tightly structured experimental piece. A young woman roams aimlessly through a cold, wet forest, surveying the light, shadows and darkness, walking imaginary dogs, searching for she knows not what. Again and again Martin Putz’ camera captures still-lifes – treetops concealed behind a thick curtain of rain – before finally pressing onwards with the protagonist into the inhospitable, strangely unreal setting. The character penetrates ever deeper into a labyrinth, following differing threads that become entangled or lead her and the viewer astray.

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Based on passages from Agnès Hoffmann’s novel so viele Tage, Krautgasser pieces together a narrative that portrays and utilizes the forest as both a stage and an object of projection or reflection. Among the moss and branches the protagonist finds herself, with utter plausibility, drawn into in a television interview, which (in reference to Jean-Luc Godard’s One plus One Sympathy – for the Devil) mutates into an absurd round of 20 questions. Yet if Godard’s interview subject (Eve Democracy) was driven by a thirst for revolution, Krautgasser’s roaming protagonist, Alva, is characterized by pragmatism and sobriety: “Is it still possible to be a revolutionary?” she is asked. No, she says – as detached and distant as the setting itself.

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Such references allow these seemingly timeless scenes from a forest to reveal their historical context, as the undefined no-man’s-land is set, albeit vaguely, in the present. “Were you trying to call Maria Alyokhina?” the reporter demands. “Or Edward Snowden? Or Arifa Bibi?” The conversation quickly devolves into a survey of systematic dependencies, from capital to consumption to crystal meth. And ultimately loses itself in the forested expanses – calm, methodic, indefinite.
This is not to be the only reenactment that takes place in the woods. On the contrary, the coniferous woodland is revealed to be a complex system of references between protagonist, film and world. In one scene pilgrims pass through the deserted woods without taking any notice of Alva. In another the mythologically laden (and opulently photographed) natural surroundings, richly populated with demons, is set to life with tonewood: Ascan Breuer meets Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The wanderer becomes a modern shaman – somehow lost in space.

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“It documents a battle on a hardened front,” writes Amon Brandt about the film by Breuer cited above, by which Brandt means the so-called battle for reality. Precisely this battle may tie together Krautgasser’s different narrative threads: the battle for a very personal truth and the empowerment that goes along with a certain kind of search for this truth.
“One has no idea which reality will hold”, speaks the voice with great verisimilitude as wisps of fog cast the grove into a dull, diffuse light. And somewhere in the middle: a woman who may appear to be lost but has really always been found in uncertain space.
(Sebastian Höblinger)

Scripting | directing | editing: Annja Krautgasser
Camera: Martin Putz
Camera assistent: Wolfgang Oblasser
Research assistent: Gerald Straub
Production assistent | casting: Anna Spanlang
Dramatic composition: Marie-Therese Thill
Sound recording | sound editing | mastering: Peter Kutin
Alva | voice-over: Juliane Zöllner
Journalist: Alexander Ebeert
Off-text from the novel so viele Tage by Agnès Hoffmann
Supported by BKA, Land Tirol, and ÖBF (Wildmedia)

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Waldszenen (sequence)
A 2015 | 30 min | HD 16:9 | colour | stereo | engl. UT

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• Diagonale 2015 - Festival des österreichischen Films, A-Graz • VIS, 12. Internationales Festival für Kurzfilm, Animation & Musikvideo, Austrian competition 2, A-Vienna • FID – 26. Festival International de Cinéma Marseille, F-Marseille