In Heaven´s Meadow
Maya (Maria Spanring) awakes suddenly in Heaven Meadow. She is not dead, she is in Vienna. It is night. She checks out her body. What is she missing? What is missing? Her shoes, that´s for sure. She scrambles onto her feet and gets going down the path.
From the beginning, Magdalena Chmielewska´s short film is laced with the quiet irony of simple associative pairings, associations immediately revealed as paradoxes that cancel each other out. At first glance this irony seems inappropriate: Mid-morning Maya goes to the police, namely to report the incident of the prior evening. She undergoes a check-up and files an official statement she was raped by several perpetrators – no traces of semen, but internal injuries.
A short trip is pending. Maya drives with her best friend (Julia Jelinek) to visit her boyfriend (Valentin Postlmayr), currently renovating a house on the Italian coast. It is not the Casa Malaparte from Godard´s Contempt, even if Chmielewska briefly entertains this allusion from the balcony. Maya wants "not to think of anything for a few days". But nobody can escape (self-)reflection. She had looked forward to being with Daniel. She feels desire. But something is different. She and Daniel are also, in essence, an "associative pairing", but one that cannot tolerate opposition.
With great precision and inventiveness, Chmielewska uses only a few brushstrokes to shape a complex figure. This is a person to whom violence has been done but who does not want to see herself as a victim. In an instinctively orchestrated process of self-empowerment, she recognizes her strengths ever more clearly, and she is not afraid of them.
In Maria Spanring, Chmielewska has found a congenial actress who captures Maya´s paradoxes both physically and psychologically. As to a heaven – in Vienna there are at least two – even in leaving Maya finds herself actually going to a better place. Maybe she will be caught up to, but she won´t let herself be stopped. (Alexandra Zawia)
Translation: Eve Heller
It is night in Heaven Meadow, on the outskirts of Vienna. Injured and barefoot, Maya runs back home, to the city center. The next day, she spontaneously travels to Italy, to her boyfriend Daniel. There, she hopes to forget. To find herself, between distance and the closeness. She hopes not to be a victim again. Maya tries to suppress, so that she does not have to remember. She tells lies to escape the truth. Maya keeps the secret even from Daniel, to whom she apears different, new. Maya wants to regain control of her life. But instead, she keeps floating through the world like an unanchored island.
FIRST STEPS AWARD 2018 - Jury-Begründung (Award)
Preisträger: Am Himmel, Regie: Magdalena Chmielewska
30 Min., Filmakademie Wien
Eine junge Frau wurde überfallen, sexuell misshandelt, auf einer Wiener Wiese, die paradoxerweise „Am Himmel“ heißt. Was genau geschah, erfahren wir nur indirekt, sie selber spricht nicht darüber. Kämpft darum, sich nicht als Opfer zu fühlen, ihr eigenes Leben wieder zu gewinnen. Sie ist verstört und verstörend, abweisend, ihr Kampf ist kraftvoll, fast wütend. Sie besucht ihren Freund am Meer, aber nichts wird mehr, wie es war, Stück für Stück geht sie sich selbst verloren. Magdalena Chmielewska erzählt in großen Kinobildern, mit wenig Dialog, kunstvoll eingesetzter Musik und in nur 30 Minuten, wie ein solcher Überfall ein Leben für immer beschädigt. (Jurybegründung)