A million in debt is normal, says my grandfather
Eine Million Kredit ist normal, sagt mein Großvater
Normality in the 70s: The audiovisual memory industry and its amateur-filmmaker cohorts produced vast numbers of images depicting the economic boom and petit bourgeois families who presume they´re happy: vacations at the sea, car excursions into the Alps while wearing traditional clothes, at home there´s the built-in cabinet with a color TV. Dad´s usually the one operating the camera. Everything could have been so nice, but it all goes wrong in the end: The carpenter´s shop inherited from grandpa is in the red, competition with mass-produced goods delivers the company´s death blow. The family´s embroiled in a crisis, and finally its head crumbles under the strain. Normality has become unbearable.
At first glance Gabriele Mathes´ found-footage film merely tells the story of a family which ends tragically. While an unemotional narrator creates a depressing, somewhat biographical and photographically precise portrait in words, the Super-8 images capture an irreducible exterior which unfolds not only in the literary description of subjective images of memory: fragments of a public micro-history of the economy. Images and language contaminate each other in the tangential editing, and Andrea Sodomka´s soundscape leads us into the audiovisual fracture in time with painful silence. Unlike so many ironic home-movie samplers, Mathes takes her material seriously as a symptom. What´s shown, what indicates the non-visible, what has been lost, and what has been saved. And, just possibly, something has survived in the washed-out, emotional images, where language, and mourning, was unable to reach: a moment of suspicion, or a moment of happiness. But happiness might have flared up at a place no one planned or expected.
The film tells the story of the filmmaker´s family: her father´s struggle to save the furniture store inherited from her grandfather and the consequences of the inevitable bankruptcy for the family.