Tell me on Tuesday

"Tell me on Tuesday", wrote Franz Kafka in a letter to Milena Jesenská. He planned to visit her on Tuesday, stopping in Vienna on the way to Prague. "It would be most sensible to tell you today where I would like to wait for you, but I would suffocate till we met.... Is there in the world, Milena, as much patience as is necessary for me? Tell me on Tuesday."
Kafka´s longing to see Milena again, before he was able to spend four days with her in Vienna, was marked by delay, and a transition to written form in letters and diary entries. A trembling before and an drained after frame those days in July, 1920, the particulars of which remain a blank.
Astrid Ofner matched Kafka´s love letters to Milena with fragile images that permit the existence of that blank space, making it visible rather than filling it in.
A filmic search begins at Vienna´s edge. Gentle waves break on the Danube´s bank at Kritzendorf. Rocks, water, clouds - "above it all, a premonition of Vienna." Ofner used a Super-8 handheld camera to film in muddled colors, in grainy black and white, in lonely tracking shots moving through the city. Sylvie Rohrer reads Kafka´s notes in a voice over, anchoring his texts in the flow of images with a gentle voice, while von Webern´s music creates carefully floating worlds of sound. The lights of the Giant Ferris Wheel flicker in the pitch-black night behind utility poles, anonymous traffic circles in the dark. Bridges span the Danube, gray in the morning´s light, subways leave the cold and clammy station.
While transience is inscribed in the film material, Astrid Ofner´s gaze resists all sentimentality. Instead, a sense of timelessness is created, which fills itself with remembrance of the past. A rare view of Vienna.

(Alexandra Seibel)

Translation: Steve Wilder

In early July 1920, Franz Kafka spent four days in Vienna, passing most of his time with Milena Jesenskà. What happened before and after is documented in a series of letters and diary entries, but the days themselves remain Kafka’s and Milena’s secret: a secret for which filmmaker Astrid Ofner has composed a succession of concrete and freely associated images and movements.

(Viennale International Film Festival)

Orig. Title
Sag es mir Dienstag
26 min
Orig. Language
English, french
Astrid Johanna Ofner
Astrid Johanna Ofner
Anton von Webern
Text Author
Franz Kafka
Sylvie Rohrer
Executive Producer
Astrid Johanna Ofner
Available Formats
35 mm (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Dolby Surround
Frame Rate
25 fps
35 mm (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Dolby Surround
Frame Rate
25 fps
Festivals (Selection)
Viennale - Vienna Int. Film Festival
Paris - Cinéma du Réel
Buenos Aires Festival Int. de Cine Independiente BAFICI
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Pesaro - Film Festival
Toronto - Int. Film Festival
Vila do Conde - Festival Internacional de Curtas-Metragens (Honorable Mention RTP2)
München - UnderDox, Festival für Dokument und Experiment
Copenhagen - cph:dox, Intl Documentary Film Festival
Hong Kong - Int. Film Festival
Chennai - Women's Film Festival