The upcoming 13th T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival in Wroclaw will be showing the Polish premiere of Gustav Deutsch’s film Shirley - Visions of Reality (Austria, 2013, 93 minutes) as part of the Festival’s special screenings.
Gustav Deutsch is an Austrian director specializing in found footage, as well as a video artist, an architect, a musician, a photographer, and the maker of Film ist a Girl & a Gun (9th New Horizons). This time, he found his source material in the paintings of Edward Hopper. With the aim of creating a dialogue between painting and cinema, he brings 13 of the American realist’s static images to life in order to tell the story of a fictional character and to “paint” a portrait of a woman whose thoughts and emotions guide the audience through American history from the Thirties to the Sixties. Influenced by the U.S.A. trilogy of John Dos Passos - The 42nd Parallel (1930), Nineteen Nineteen (1932) and The Big Money (1936) - Deutsch wrote his screenplay convinced that nothing can show the situation in a country like the fate of individuals from the crowd. Politics, customs, social change, and revolutions in consciousness are reflected in their lives, like in a drop of water. The Austrian director encapsulates the American experience in Shirley’s internal monologues. Events, names, and myths inscribed in the collective memory evoke particular images and moods. The soundtrack includes authentic radio recordings from the last century.
Roman Gutek: "The title character, Shirley, is an attractive, charismatic, and emancipated woman who is faithful to her principles. She wants to have an influence on the course of history. She does not accept the reality of the Great Depression, racial hatred, or the McCarthy Era. Gustav Deutsch, as usual, delights the audience with the visual aspect of the film, which gives viewers the impression that they are interacting with images in a gallery” (Gazeta Wyborcza Wrocław).
Deutsch chose Hopper because he is one of the most-cited painters in film, having inspired Alfred Hitchcock, Jim Jarmusch, Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Terrence Malick, Sam Mendes, and Andrzej Wajda. For his part, Hopper was influenced by film noir - in his choice of subjects, composition and lighting - which is visible in many of his works, such as Night Windows (1938), Office at Night (1940), Room in New York (1932), New York Movie (1939), and Intermission (1963). Deutsch wants to call attention to the narrative potential of his painting.
Polish cinematographer Jerzy Palacz, who has worked alongside Ulrich Seidl and Goran Rebic, shot the film’s images, while painter Hanna Schimek, one of Deutsch’s regular collaborators who also created the illusionist paintings used in the film, designed the film’s color concept. Stephanie Cumming, a Canadian dancer and choreographer associated with the Austrian contemporary dance troupe Liquid Loft, plays the lead role.
Deutsch is involved in interdisciplinary projects, he is an acclaimed director, an artist, an architect, a musician, and a photographer. He was born in 1952 in Austria and studied architecture at the University of Vienna. He started making films in the 1980s, first focusing on the issue of the phenomenology of the medium. More often than not, his films are made up of found footage. Deutsch takes on the subject of the essence of cinema and basic narration to define human identity. Since 1996, he has been making the Film ist series, which is a tribute to, and also a critical analysis of, cinematic art, as well as the archetypes and mechanisms governing it.
Shirley - Visions of Reality has already screened at this year’s Berlinale in the Forum section, at the Image Forum Festival 2013 in Tokyo, at DOK.fest 2013 in Munich 2013 and at IndieLisboa 2013.