Special: Valeska Grisebach

Valeska Grisebach is an internationally acclaimed representative of the Berlin School and uses cinema as a sensuous research tool to examine how we link our lives to archetypes, ideal images and fictions. Eleven years ago, Grisebach made a name for herself with her feature film SEHNSUCHT (“Longing”), a story from Brandenburg state merging abstract perceptions of love and images of the breakup of a marriage with breathtaking directness. Now she returns to the cinema with a narrative that features a German construction brigade in shimmering heat, as if the site were an archaic outpost of the American cavalry. WESTERN is set in the east of the present-day EU, in and around Petrelik, a village in the Bulgarian province of Blagoevgrad. As in her feature debut MEIN STERN (“Be My Star”) and the ménage à trois SEHNSUCHT, Grisebach cast non-professional actors in her most recent film. Her protagonists are also builders and workers in real life, and the Bulgarian village plays a part in shifted roles as well.

 Accompanying this Viennale special will be a Carte Blanche – three extra films chosen by the directress: Maurice Pialat’s PASSE TON BAC D’ABORD..., Miloš Forman’s lively LÁSKY JEDNÉ PLAVOVLÁSKY and Henry King’s THE GUNFIGHTER will enter into a dialog with Grisebach’s works, with WESTERN also appearing as a crossing of borders between abstraction and thrilling concretion. In the duels of her construction workers, fundamental issues are negotiated: fear of the foreign, differentiation and empathy: very European themes with an open showdown.