Introduzione all’Oscuro


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Introduzione all’Oscuro
"Introduzione all’Oscuro aims more for emotional beats and resonances than factual musings."

Director Gastón Solnicki took a free-form approach to documentary when he turned the camera on his family in Papirosen and, seven years on, it seems little has changed as his latest, Introduzione all’Oscuro, aims more for emotional beats and resonances than factual musings.

The film springs from that most intense of emotions - grief, described in one of the film's intertitles more specifically as "manic grief" for the director's "most flamboyant" friend. The friend in question is Hans Hurch, the director of the Vienna Film festival from 1997 onwards, who died suddenly in July last year.

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Solnicki goes to Vienna and sets about creating a sort of filmed cabinet of curiosities associated with Hurch. The ephemera include postcards that Hurch seems to have regularly sent to the Argentinian director, each handwritten in a looping script - the Austrian, Solnicki tells us, always picked up pen rather than sending email.

We may not find out much in the way of biography of the festival director, but we certainly get a sense of the rebellious spirit of the man, as Solnicki goes in search of the things he most associates with him - the specific type of pen, the type of cloth Hurch used for suits that he wore until they virtually fell apart or pieces of crockery he had a habit of liberating from eating establishments he liked.

"It's not perverse enough," an unidentified voice declares part-way through the film. Solnicki is concerned with the true definition of that often misused word, aiming to highlight Hurch's delightful contrariness at the same time as playing around with the documentary form. Even his grave site seems, at the time of filming, to fit the definition, the small holding plaque as the ground settles in stark contrast to the almost baroque gravestones around it for luminaries like Beethoven and Brahms.

Beyond Hurch, there are interesting nods to the 'state of modern Austria' in contrast to its past, where Panther tank-shaped balloons might be considered playthings and sheep graze on walls, all the while an occasional orchestral score suggests a certain emotional turmoil. The film's wilful eccentricity won't be to everyone's taste and will doubtless resonate most with those who new Hurch, but there's no doubting it comes from the heart.

The film is available to watch online at Festival Scope's Sala Web until September 19.

Reviewed on: 14 Sep 2018
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Cinematic tribute to Hans Hurch, the long-time director of Vienna Film Festival.

Director: Gastón Solnicki

Writer: Gastón Solnicki

Starring: Gastón Solnicki

Year: 2018

Runtime: 71 minutes

Country: Austria, Argentina

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