Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Guilty Until Proven Innocent is a portrait of a group of women. They make their appearance in a flare of light – there are seven. The camera records them in medium close-up, as torsos from the waist up, seen through a fence. They stand quietly, close together, looking into the camera. They do not relate to one another but solely to the camera. At first glance what they appear to have in common is their advanced age. The shared years of the seven women, the wire mesh of the fence intersecting the image and the line-up of their bodies constitute an arrangement that creates a homogenous surface, sustained even when a cut replaces one of the women with Friedl vom Gröller herself. At all events, their facial expressions heighten this sense, uniformly relaxed and without betraying specific emotions or thoughts – bordering a fine line between smiling and being severe. This self-conscious blankness of the woman behind the wire fence raises questions in regard to the film title: Guilty Until Proven Innocent – Guilty of what? Why this exclusion?
And then Friedl vom Gröller turns and looks at the women standing to her right. One of them smiles at her. The staging is ruptured and after vom Gröller turns her gaze back to the camera, the image goes black. Setting and rhythm change in the wake of this turning point as close-ups reveal every blemish of the individual faces. It – the camera – is now a member of the group of women. Fenced in together with them, it shakily scans their faces with curiosity. Like a magnifying lens it researches and searches, perhaps for traces of guilt and innocence. And in the meantime it documents traces of living.
Translation: Eve Heller
Friedl vom Gröller