White-tiled rooms, neon lighting; on the walls black and white photographs documenting the atrocities committed by the german Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front in WW2. Against this background former soldiers talk about their experiences beyond the bounds of "normal" warfare. An uncompromising film on remembrance and oblivion.

High8/35mm - 117’ – color – 1.1,66
optical sound - OV german
subtitles: english, french

A film by Ruth Beckermann
Cinematography Peter Roehsler
Editing Gertraud Luschützky

Premiere 19.10. 1996, Viennale
Cinema release 27.11.1996, Votiv Kino, Vienna
Festivals Berlin, Cinéma du réel Paris, Nyon, Pesaro, Jerusalem, Duisburg, etc

Ruth Beckermann’s film doesn’t duplicate the exhibition, but begins were it ends: in a commentary. Its subject-matter is less about history than remembering, less about the past than the present …
The film director decides to approach only men, who are at an age of having witnessed these events. She excludes any kind of preliminary talk, shows none of the exhibit’s pictures, and accentuates neither the victim’s nor the historian’s viewpoint. Keeping out what normally belongs to historiographical film-making shows the film’s major concern, which has less to do with revealing the truth (which is regarded as given) rather than attempting to grasp what so repulsively distorts it, by capturing it word for word and at the same time catching it red-handed. Beginning with these words, which irrupt torrentially like a half a century old dam suddenly breaking into a dry landscape made up of the faces of those who utter them. The low image quality, the neon light, the long shots of former soldiers who put up a last effort for a long lost battle, all contribute to the striking, nearly experimental dimension of the film.

JACQUES MANDELBAUM in Le Monde, April 19, 2000

October 25
Looked through the film material so far. Here they are again, the men that I filmed during the Waldheim campaign ten years ago. I can’t listen to them any longer. I don’t want to let them speak. After all, they are not my fathers. I get impatient, I interrupt them when they drone on about their imprisonment and misery. Some of them invite us to their apartments to look at war albums. No thank you; I want to film them here, among these photos on white tiled walls, in the glare of the neon light. It happened in
public, they should talk about it in public.

November 5
Between interrogation and pity. I must keep a distanced view. How do you film enemies?

From Ruth Beckermann’s Shooting Journal
Shooting Journal by Ruth Beckermann, 1995