Message in a Bottle

A note in a bottle is an unaddressed message seeking a recipient. Shipwreck survivors put their trust in the ocean´s waves hoping that someone would find their message of distress in time to save them. Yet simply finding the note was not enough. The call for help only reached the addressee to the extent he or she was able to decode the message.

From the off, a sigh, a statement: “Oiso die G´schicht … von heit.” (Okay, today´s history ….” The image: Noise. Right at the start, Gabriele Mathes´s film Flaschenpost reveals its intention of sounding out the viability of the term lending the film its title. For the history of today, the narrator´s faithful account of the recent past refers to an event that occurred twenty-five years ago: the violent and destructive end of a relationship and a subsequent new beginning. Traces of the event were captured back then, autumn 1987, on video—along with other happenings, such as the report of the International Committee of Historians on possible war crimes by Austrian President Kurt Waldheim and student demonstrations protesting cuts in social services. In Flaschenpost, Gabriele Mathes now gets to work on decoding the messages that these recordings hold.

The result is a cinematic narrative of seldom seen poetic power and intensity that combines the private with the political, the experience of helplessness with the effort of self-assertion, beauty and love with risk, the unusual with the incidental, and, last but not least, work with life. The film shows the recent past as time constantly yearning for a different present. And the same can be said of today: While the narrator´s personal fate persists, Occupy movement activists set up their London camp in 2011.

(Vrääth Öhner)

The story of a camera from 1987: a dysfunctional relationship and the fresh start that ensued. On the videotape: minutiae, anti-Waldheim protests, student demonstrations... Like notes in a bottle, the camera has preserved these recordings over time – and with them the past life of the filmmaker. Message in a Bottle is a cinematic treasure in the true sense of the word.

(Diagonale Catalog, 2012)

Orig. Title
30 min
Gabriele Mathes
Orig. Language
Gabriele Mathes
Concept & Realization
Gabriele Mathes
Hermann Lewetz, Gabriele Mathes
Additional camera
Hermann Lewetz, Johannes Hammel, Michael Palm, Anita Makris
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
Festivals (Selection)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Wien - VIS Vienna Independent Shorts (AUSTRIAN SHORT FILM AWARD)
Dortmund / Köln - Internationales Frauenfilmfestival