watchAUT a new film festival of Austrian Films (Dec 13-15th) opened with Little Joe (Dir. Jessica Hausner) featuring Emily Beecham and Ben Wishaw. Billed as an eerie tale “about the perils of playing with nature” it might just suit the mood for Friday 13th. Beecham won Best Actress in Cannes for this role. However, the closing film The Ground Beneath My Feet (Dir. Marie Kreutzer) about a high-achieving businesswoman who loses control after her sister’s suicide resounds.
The Ground Beneath My Feet was a thought provoking end to this first Austrian FF with the fascinating and versatile Valerie Pachner as Lola, a young business consultant at the top of her game whose mental health deteriorates under the responsibility of her schizophrenic sister. Lola’s meteoric rise from foster care to a successful career and the crash that follows is carefully plotted. Episodes of chauvinism in the corporate world are astounding, reinforcing the “me too” message when Lola’s male colleague flashes to prove why he got the promotion. So too are the cold facts of capitalism which cross gender politics. When Lola tosses fifty Euros at an aggravating beggar (a woman), the polarisation of her humble beginnings and her success are never more stark.
The lesbian love affair is portrayed in a cold light. Whilst both actresses are cinephilic and passionate lovers there is a lack of tenderness. Supported by a strong cast Valerie Pachner really carries this excellent film. Stay for the credits and Leonard Cohen’s - "If I didn’t have your love".
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watchAUT, a collaboration with The Austrian Cultural Forum, Austrian Film Institute and Raindance, also directed the camera at social and environmental themes with Chaos the story of three Syrian women exposed to war, Earth documenting billions of tons of earth moved annually, and Welcome to Sodom following Ghanaian children living off technical rubbish dumps.
13-15 December, Picturehouse Central, Piccadilly Circus, W1D 7DH