Special: Robert Land

Rediscovering a Lost Émigré Filmmaker

Robert Land is regarded as one of the great unknowns of German-language cinema from the interwar period. The documentation of his cinematic work could be described as fragmentary, at best, and his biography was  virtually unheard of. As in the case of so many émigré filmmakers, the political circumstances of expulsion led to  almost complete obliteration. And yet, Robert Land, born in 1887 in Kroměříž, Moravia, can be considered a true film-historical discovery. A few years ago, the Filmarchiv Austria initiated a large international research project on Robert Land. Many international partner archives as well as private collectors were contacted in order to uncover the buried legacy and life story of a documented film maniac, who ultimately became a victim of a murderous regime. In addition to several archive findings, these efforts were also rewarded with some sensational discoveries, such as that of a complete version of UNSCHULD, a late masterpiece of Austrian silent film that can now be seen on the big screen again in a restored version. Robert Land, who was obsessed with cinema and also started the first crowdfunded projects in order to realize his projects beyond the established film industry, did not live to enjoy the recognition of his work. Following exile stops in Italy and Czechoslovakia, he died during his escape in 1938, in Paris, France. At this year’s Viennale, the Filmarchiv Austria will show the first presentation of Robert Land’s work, thus com-plementing the history of Austrian exile cinema with a significant entry.