By Claudia Siefen
It is not that Anja (Elisabeth Umlauft) is not willing to communicate with the people around her. She is just communicating in a little different way. Her way of communication makes it hard to be understood, not only when it comes to her friends and family. This fact also concerns herself. And the austrian director Caspar Pfaundler composed some tender and strong images for this certain feeling. The elevator in the old house where Anja lives is constantly out of order, you have to close the inner door of this old transportation. Otherwise it will not move an inch. And Anja takes care of this door whenever it is possible for her. Very much from the beginning, the wonderful rusty sound of this lattice gate seems to be connected with her.
Like so many people living in Vienna, Anja loves the sea. The city is so much of an island but in a different way, not surrounded by fresh air, wild water and animals. She enjoys stepping up to the apartment, the staircase is made of natural stone. So she keeps her eye on the single steps, if lucky, spotting some embedded shells. And when she shows them to Paul (Harry Lampl), a colleague student, she got a crush on at the moment, he just nods friendly: “Oh, mmh, yeah…” – He is an art student by the way, he seems related to her but in a complicated way.
So Walking On The Beach (Gehen am Strand) by Pfaundler manages a portrait of a 27 years old bourgeois woman, facing her problems with university, love, sex and the demands of others. But also her own demands to herself. But without being half-baked, boring or awkward to watch. Pfaundler builts up a wonderful relationship to his actress, offering that to her with his directing style and the cinematography by Peter Roehsler. It is the chance she is longing for: to be loved just because of “being there” and “existing”, and not because of performing a specific function. With the character Anja we find a lot of personal indications related to the director again: the city of Vienna and certain districts she is walking in the night, much too close family bonds, dutch relatives, a certain depression. But also the ironic and smart vocabulary for all of this, the feeling of being a “slaughtered pig, hanging there just for bleeding to death”.
Anja is communicating in a little different way. So also does her neighbour (Wu Su-Jen) and the two women end up cooking a soup together. It will need death to bring Anja “back” to the usual communication, that is needed in her world. The grandmother passed away, and travelling to her dutch family side will be the slow and soft start for her to come along with nice and tiny signs: In the end, she is sitting and enjoying the landscape when she suddenly raises her hand, waving “off-screen”. And we will not experience the recipient…
Director: Caspar Pfaundler
Script: Caspar Pfaundler
Cast: Elisabeth Umlauft, Harry Lampl, Claudia Martini, Karl Fischer u.a.
Camera: Peter Roehsler
Editor: Caspar Pfaundler
Sound: Jakob Palfrader, Hubert Grissemann, Bernhard Maisch
Music: Georg Philipp Telemann, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sounddesign: Axel Rab
Production Design: Michael Drexler
Costumes: Silvia Pernegger
Producers: Peter Roehsler