Online catalogue / Sandra Wollner :

The Impossible Picture
Das unmögliche Bild
AT / DE / 2016
70 min.

The father gazes in the camera, "What do you see?" - "You," says the daughter. It is the last image that will be made of the father, as he dies a short time later, in summer of 1956. In his place, the daughter Johanna (Jana McKinnon), takes over documenting the family´s life with a handed-down Super 8 film camera. There is a lot to see: Johanna moves with her mother and sister to her grandmother´s (Andrea Schramek) in a bourgeois, old-style apartment in Vienna, where the relatives gather not only for birthdays and at Christmas. The camera gaze pans seemingly amateurishly over heads and faces. In erratic, abrupt movements, it captures in close-ups grandmother´s bread dumplings as well as the family´s faces. From time to time, a group of young women gather in grandmother’s kitchen, supposedly to cook.

With a sovereign, stylistic confidence Sandra Wollner´s The impossible picture uses the private format of the home movie to allow an increasingly more powerful narrative to step forth in its allegedly random snapshots darkened in the brown hues of the 1950s. Yet who is narrating is unclear. Precisely when Johanna has the camera in hand, "impossible images" suddenly arise, whereby one doesn´t know who has taken them. When the grandmother pours burning hot water into Johanna´s foot bath to force the polio-stricken child to stand up, the point-of-view is mysterious. It can´t have been Johanna filming herself. But who then? The fluctuation between viewing perspectives and the pastiche effect, which arises from the historical distance to the 1950s, corresponds with the search for the truth content of the images: how reliable are they as carriers of memory? What did we really see, and what did we only think we saw? At the same time, Sandra Wollner opens an intimate look into female subjectivities, whose precarious urgency anchors itself in the present. (Alexandra Seibel)

Translation: Eve Heller

"Our memory is so unreliable - sometimes what we see
might as well be the future." (Johanna F.)

Vienna in the 1950´s. A childhood captured on 8mm film, documented by 13-year-old Johanna. A childhood as it might have been. We see fragments of family life and family secrets, an apartment regularly visited by women, centered around grandmother Maria Steinwendner who holds weekly cooking clubs in her kitchen. But somehow, the women never actually seem to do any cooking.
"Papa always said you have to be quick if you want to see
anything. Because everything vanishes so quickly", Johanna
says to herself as she films the dead body of a cat on the
pavement. "But I don´t think that´s true. I think you just have to keep looking". And Johanna keeps looking. Until the camera´s gaze suddenly turns on herself. (production note)

A film by:
- Sandra Wollner

- Fiction

original language:
- german

Available Prints:
- DCP 2K


rental conditions

more on Austrian Independent Film & Video Database:
- Credits
- Festival placements
- Texte und Bilder
- Biographie: Sandra Wollner