Back Track

An extraordinary production process always plays a central role in Virgil Widrich’s short films. While Copy Shop (2001) was constructed out of thousands of photocopies, it was also strongly distinguished by its story – and promptly garnered an Oscar® nomination. Meanwhile, Fast Film (2003) exhibited a heightened complexity both of in terms of story as well as production technique. Thousands of individual film frame fragments were photocopied onto paper, resolving into cohesive images once folded into origami-like objects, subsequently photographed and animated to tell the story of the film. With Back Track, Widrich now joins Ken Jacobs among the select few pioneers of 3-D found footage cinema. Back Track is a showpiece of technical brilliance involving a highly complex story woven out of images and sounds from over 25 feature films. We peer into a space of floating, three-dimensional screens that merge, layered atop and made to glide over one another. Various found footage scenes are projected onto as many as seven movable, semi-transparent panes of glass at once, while a computer-guided camera photographs them frame by frame and translates the imagery into a three dimensional spectacle. At the same time, a host of lovingly constructed props introduce analog components that flit through this digitally Burroughsian cut-up cosmos of Widrich’s conjuring. The plot is seamlessly interwoven, narrated by an off-screen voice entirely in keeping with the film noir tradition to which Back Track is evidently deeply committed: a woman; several men (a writer, a womanizer, a criminal?), each hopelessly under the spell of the siren-like lady. Ultimately they all meet in a house full of mirrors where time seems to stand still, the scene culminating in a showdown that leaves three dead and the storyteller perplexed: “The more you look, the less you really know.”
Back Track presents itself as yet another work of bravura by one of Austria’s most inventive filmmakers, his ingeniously intricate ideas ever a source of newfound pleasure. (Peter Tscherkassky)
Translation: Eve Heller

Virgil Widrich compiles film excerpts from the 1950s and 1960s and translates the resulting remix of images through multiple projections on mirror and canvas constructions into a handbuilt three-dimensionality. The visual levels collide (physically), and dream and reality superimpose and dissolve: an audiovisual hall of mirrors in ragingly beautiful black-and-white. (Sebastian Höglinger, Diagonale, Katalog des österreichischen Film)

Orig. Title
Back Track
7 min
Virgil Widrich
experimental, Short fiction
Orig. Language
Virgil Widrich
Concept & Realization
Virgil Widrich
Bernhard Schlick
Virgil Widrich
Sound Design
Frédéric Fichefet
Virgil Widrich
Supported by
Innovative Film Austria
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
DCP 2k 3D (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
1:2,35 (CinemaScope)
Sound Format
Dolby 5.1.
Frame Rate
24 fps
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Wien - VIS Vienna Independent Shorts
Oberhausen - Int. Kurzfilmtage
Zagreb – Animafest, Festival on Animated Films
Karlovy Vary - Int. Film Festival
Vila do Conde - Festival Internacional de Curtas-Metragens
Sevilla - Festival del Cine Europeo
Wroclaw - New Horizons Festival
Bristol - Encounters Short Film Festival
Belo Horizonte - Festival Int. de Cortas Metragens
Cambridge MIT - European Short Film Festival
Milano Aiace - Invideo
Wiesbaden - exground on screen
Limassol - Cyrus Int. Short Film Festival
Ann Arbor - Film Festival
Bratislava - Febiofest
Busan - Intern Short Film Festival
Lissabon - Indielisboa Int. Film and Videofestival
Dresden - Filmfest
Buenos Aires Festival Int. de Cine Independiente BAFICI
East Bourne - Crossing the Screens Festival
Trondheim - Minimalen Short Film Festival