Passage Briare chronicles the encounters with a man, thereby thematizing the camera, the realization of a self-portrait in public space as well as aging, its perfidies and physical traces. Staged sparingly, the film humorously documents cautious gestures of understanding, which due to the absence of sound shifts the language of glances and facial expression center stage. The location in the title points to Paris and the filmmaker´s long term relationship with this city, where she created a series of self portraits early on. It indicates the filming location, a narrow passageway between two rows of houses in which Friedl vom Gröller (Friedl Kubelka´s pseudonym) portrays herself and the fleeting acquaintance. The film does not follow any strict rhythm, but the appearance of the two together in front of the camera is a sort of middle, or peak, which is cinematically introduced and then dissolved again. Friedl vom Gröller thus shows, after a short pan of the passageway and a passerby rushing past, the protagonist whom she ultimately selects, now, at first, alone in a close-up. As in previous films, she remains an off-screen accomplice reflected in the window front before entering the picture in the next take and sitting next to the man on the step. This identification with the person being portrayed subsequently takes on bizarre and humorous, but also very direct characteristics when the filmmaker sets a surprising, although common action that remains to reveal the film. The scene fluctuates between snapshot and fomenting intervention, between embarrassing shame and a refreshing, nonchalant closeness. Yet as spontaneous as the storyline seems, the film does not give the impression of being a snapshot. What is special about Passage Briare is not the event, but rather, the intensity: a self-willed, humorous observation of aging, instigated by the filmmaker herself.
Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt
A woman, a man, a smile. They sit in the sun, and what links them is the film´s real surprise: a matter-of-fact gesture which is probably taboo for others. It´s up to the film itself to reveal what this gesture is. The anarchic humor of Passage Briare liberates the viewer for a brief, beautiful moment from the fear of getting old.
Passage Briare records Kubelka´s flirtatious encounter with a mysterious man; she comes to sit beside him as they are filmed by her camera. Despite the brevity of the piece - again only 3-minutes, the length of a single film magazine - the chemistry between the pair is palpable. The way they gaze at each other and at the camera is lively and enticing. Passage Briare records a tiny playful and intimate interlude that is a joy to behold.
(Filmmaker Magazine, 2009)
Friedl vom Gröller