Volver la Vista - The Gaze Back
Those aren’t the same apples“, one hears in an old woman’s voice. The woman speaks Spanish.
Then she switches into Viennese dialect: „They’re sourer in Vienna. And much bigger too, when you buy them“.
For his film Volver la Vista – The Gaze Back, Fridolin Schönwiese interviewed a multitude of situationally re-planted people. Austrians who live today in Mexico for professional reasons; because they followed where their love led them but also because they had to leave their country during the Third Reich. And Mexicans who have built up a new life in Austria as restaurateurs, artists or musicians. Schönwiese gets them to talk about their old home in their new language. It is a place a good deal of them have not seen for many long years and which, in their memories, has compacted into a conglomerate of images, sounds, impressions. In the process the speakers are never seen in the interview situation. The film leaves their voices in the off where, to a great extent divested of their individuality, they are woven together into a great, common narrative about being foreign, about the loss and reconstruction of identity, cultural prejudice and the imaginary places the once so concrete countries of origin have become.
Volver la vista is a long-term project in which five years work has been invested. It was shot with two cameramen, the Austrian Johannes Hammel and the Mexican Rafael Ortega, who, paralleling the „reversed“ gaze on the sound level, cast their eyes on the each other’s country. Thus the scenes shot like this communicate with each other in unexpected ways, finding Austria in Mexico and vice versa, they contradict or compliment each other with a great deal of humour - such as when a train enters a tunnel from the heat-shimmering Mexican highlands to emerge again into in a wintry Alpine landscape. (Maya McKechneay)
Translation: Tim Sharp
Volver la Vista - Der umgekehrte Blick
English, spanish, german