Online catalogue / Ulrike Putzer / Severin Fiala :

Elephant Skin
AT / 2009
34 min.

Elfi works in a print shop. She stacks advertising folders on a conveyor belt, and when her mother calls on the mobile phone, Elfi has to shout, because the machines are so loud. Elfi is about fifty and shares a small apartment with her mother in the province in Lower Austria. After work she cares for the old woman, who always has wishes and complaints, but never a kind word for her daughter.

Over the years Elfi has developed a protective shield, an elephant skin. Although her expression hardly changes, behind her pragmatic appearance there is a person filled with yearning: secretly in love with a younger colleague, one evening she accepts his invitation to go to the discotheque "Brooklyn". The colleague doesn´t show up. Instead, Ricardo, an already highly intoxicated Elvis imitator, evinces an interest in Elfi. The evening takes its course, and while the mother is waiting in vain in the bathtub for the young Slovakian caretaker, in the disco parking lot Ricardo makes Elfi painfully aware of her double bind between responsibility for others and for her own happiness.

Fiala / Putzer´s half-hour film feels in many places like a documentary observation. One senses that some of the dialect exchanges are improvized by the (amateur) actors: Elfriede Schatz, who also works as an employee at a print shop in "real life", imbues Elfi´s gentle stoicism with an impressive physical presence. Accompanied by an agile hand camera, she is the heart of the film: a stocky woman with a bleached perm. The kind you meet at the corner shop running errands and probably immediately forget again. But Elfi is not to be forgotten: in her melancholy that is wholly without self-pity, she moves us almost to tears. Yet Elephant Skin is not a sad film, because Elfi consistently manages to preserve what is most important: her own integrity and dignity.

(Maya McKechneay)

Translation: Aileen Derieg

A film by:
- Ulrike Putzer
- Severin Fiala

- Short fiction

original language:
- german

Available Prints:
- Digital Betacam PAL
- 35 mm

price: 136 EUR


rental conditions

more on Austrian Independent Film & Video Database:
- Credits
- Festival placements
- Texte und Bilder
- Biographie: Ulrike Putzer
- Biographie: Severin Fiala

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