Screening of Mademoiselle Paradis at the presence of the director Barbara Albert, one of the protagonists of BFM 36 section Europe, Now!, prominent figure in the new Austrian cinema.
A prominent figure in the new Austrian cinema, both as a director and as a screenwriter and producer, Barbara Albert is the filmmaker who embodies in her works the issues of the present time, observed with a keen eye for the disorientment experienced by the European youth grown up at the end of the Cold War. Born in Vienna in 1970, she belongs to a generation of filmmakers that has breathed new life and personality into Austrian cinema, making it finally able to express a problematic and alternative vision to the legacy of the petty-bourgeois society which thrived in the post-war era. After studying at the Vienna Film Academy, Barbara Albert got noticed in the international festival circuit with a series of short films and, particularly, with the medium-length film Somewhere Else, shot in Sarajevo in 1996, in which, through the portrait of four young war-survivor women, she shows an uncanny ability to express the contrast between History and Humanity that is embodied in the Eastern European destiny. After co-writing in 1998, together with Michael Grimm and Reinhard Jud, Slidin’ – Alles Bunt und Wunderbar, an episodic trilogy dedicated to the nightlife of the Viennese youth, Barbara Albert made her debut in feature film with Nordrand (1999), in which, on the backdrop of a working-class neighbourhood in the Viennese outskirts, she pens the portrait of a generation devoid of expectations. Presented at the Venice Film Festival (where Nina Proll earned the Mastroianni Award as best emerging actress), the film launched Albert on the international scene, nudging her further on a path of generational awareness which is manifest in the decision to establish, together with Jessica Hausner, Antonin Svoboda and Martin Gschlacht, a production company – Coop99 – which is still a reference point for the most promising young filmmakers in Central Europe. Her constant interest for the interweaving of destinies and responsibilities, shared by characters suspended between the lightness of being and social annihilation, informs her second work, Böse Zellen (Free Radicals, 2003), in the Competition at Locarno; in 2006 she returns to the Competition in Venice with Fallen (Falling), a female perspective on betrayed expectations and residual hopes, written on the skin of five friends who find themselves inevitably changed after years of separation. The same attentiveness to the fate of Eastern Europe – seen as a backdrop to the past and present contradictions of the continent – which led her to produce two films by Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić (Grbavica – Esma’s Secret, awarded with the Golden Bear in Berlin 2006; and Na putu – On the path, 2010), is also the driving force behind her feature Die Lebenden, 2012, in which a young Austrian of Romanian descent who lives in Berlin discovers her grandfather’s Nazi past. Another female character, stuck in the complex processing of her own identity, is at the centre of her period piece, Mademoiselle Paradis (2017), the portrait of a blind pianist and composer who lived in Austria at the end of the Eighteenth century.
Austria/Germany, 2017, 97’, col.
Maria-Victoria Dragus (Maria Theresia Paradis), Devid Striesow (Franz Anton Mesmer), Lukas Miko (Joseph Anton Paradis), Katja Kolm (Maria Rosalia Paradis), Maresi Reigner (Agnes)