Identities 2017: Zwielicht (Twilight) & Mathias (Mathew)

One evening, the Identities film festival played a double bill of Austrian short films about queer subjects, which couldn’t have been more different from each other. Not just because the first one, “Zwielicht”, is almost 40 years old, while “Mathias” had its premiere at the festival, but also in terms of quality.

Zwielicht
AUT 1978
Written by Lisl Haberkorn & Margareta Heinrich
Directed by Margareta Heinrich
Watched on 12.06.2017

I get it, just making this picture in 1978 was probably revolutionary. Shot by a female director, with the plot centering on two women who are friends, and flirting with homosexuality, “Zwielicht” probably wasn’t an easy sell. However, I think that the circumstances around the making of a picture shouldn’t influence our opinion of the result – which in this case, unfortunately, I found quite lacking. Granted, from a pure film-historic point of view, it’s somewhat interesting, especially for movie-buffs from Austria. Unfortunately, that alone doesn’t change the fact that due to its extremely lethargic mood and its non-existing plot, it was extremely boring. Thus, despite its short running time of 28 minutes (at least to the IMDB; I could have sworn that it was at least twice as long), I had a hard time staying awake.
3/10
IMDB

Mathias
AUT 2017
Written by Johannes Höß & Clara Stern
Directed by Clara Stern
Watched on 12.06.2017

I seriously hope that Austria is going to enter this one for the next Academy Awards. It’s a marvelous short film, dealing with a difficult topic in a very sensitive way. I loved that on the one hand, it deals with gender transitioning and thus with a very specific experience, but on the other hand, with its main theme – finding yourself and your place in the world – is also quite universal. Thus, even though not many of us (probably) may have transitioned ourselves, it should nevertheless be easy to identify with him. It helps that Gregor Kohlhofer does a great job in the title role, as does everyone else around him. It’s also very well (co-)written and directed by Clara Stern (I’ll have to check out her previous short films, and hope that she’ll tackle a feature film soon), is short and to the point (even though I wouldn’t have minded had it gone on a little longer, since it was thoroughly entertaining), and offers a satisfying conclusion. Splendid!
9/10
IMDB

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