At the Barracks
"The soldiers loved her." At the start of the film, a woman´s voice reports that her grandmother ran a cantina at a barracks for twenty years. But what did everyday life look for her mother, who grew up as a child with her sisters alongside the soldiers? Katharina Copony´s At the Barracks casts a glance back at her grandmother, based on the stories of two generations. There was lots of work and little pleasure, the voice says knowingly, "Real children´s games, that I can´t remember. I simply went along with things." Meanwhile, visible in the picture are two young girls who are cheerfully playing with balls in the same barracks, today. Nearly every shot hits its mark.
Copony´s documentary essay At the Barracks approaches its theme at various levels and times: based on the story of the grandmother, her work in the cantina, and the politics of the post-war years reflected in family life; and based on current recordings of the two girls, who — along with the observation of soldiers in basic training — lend these stories a particular contemporariness.
The setting is the Erzherzog-Johann barracks in Straß, a town in southern Styria. The forgoing of archive material, used all too often in documentary film, turns out to be particularly appealing in At the Barracks — and coherent. After all, it is well known that things we don´t speak about are often more interesting than what we hear, and that also applies to this family history. What we are not presented with in old photos or recordings — such as the father returning from the war, the desire to break out, and freedom — all of that, we have to imagine in this film. "What carries through, throughout all of the generations, despite all of the changes?" asks a voice at the end. At the Barracks offers a noteworthy answer. (Michael Pekler)
Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt
For 23 years the director´s grandmother ran the canteen of the military barracks in Straß, Austria. The barracks is a castle. Here she lives as a little girl with her cousins, her mother and two aunts, who also spent their childhood among soldiers.
Adolescent girls in military barracks, the home of a large family in a bellicose environment. This autobiographic film is a family reconstruction on site, a step into the space of memories and imagination while observing the daily routines of the soldiers now posted there. (production note)
In der Kaserne