Things. Places. Years.
A documentary film on the effects of the past in the present, of emigration and expulsion in the lives of Jewish Women of the first, second and third generation after the Holocaust. A film on their courage, power, knowledge and contribution to the arts and sciences, to the cultural field.
Things.Places.Years. comprises interviews with Jewish women of three generations after the Holocaust. The film’s first generation protagonists escaped from Nazi Austria as children or young women. The second and third generation protagonists are daughters and granddaughters of survivors, emigrés and escapees born and brought up in the U.K.
Core objective of the film is to show and investigate how experiences of emigration, diaspora and genocide are passed on from generation to generation. What does the history of the (grand)mothers mean for the daughters and granddaughters? How does it affect their lives, their work, their idientities? Which role does the past take in the present? The film shows the after effects of emigration, expulsion and genocide in the lives of Jewish women. And it documents their courage, power, knowledge and contribution to the arts and sciences, the cultural field in general.
The generations of Jewish women after the Holocaust are affected differently and, thus, they felt differently towards us and our film project. The first generation protagonists were happy to be in the film in order to reach young audiences in Austria. The second generation were more sceptical towards us and our film project and asked critical questions in all stages of the film’s production. Katherine Klinger, for example, daughter of Jewish parents from Vienna and Prague had founded the Second Generation Trust in London and had been working for the Institute of Contemporary History and Wiener Library. When we meet Katherine in 1999, she first of all expressed her suspicion and aggression:
“I was thinking about my first response when you contacted me and asked if I wanted to be part of your film. What I was really aware of was my immediate aggression towards you. And I thought that that was very relevant. It’s an immediate suspicion, aggression and a desire and a need to test you out as to who exactly are you. Not so much what your position is because I can more or less guess and know that you’re going to say all the right things. And the reason why I have to do that is precisely because in Austria I have almost never met anyone who has what I would call ‘integrated’, on a deeper level, the meaning of what their, your country has done and is part of as a historical and as an ongoing continuum.”
Geraldine Auerbach, born in South Africa,
Jewish Music Institute, lives in London
Josephine Bruegel, born in Prague,
Club 43 (Literature Club), lives in London
Erica Davies, born in Wales,
Freud Museum, lives in London
Lisbeth Fischer-Leicht Perks, born in Vienna,
musician und author of the book “The Unsung Years”, lives in Stroud, England
Katherine Klinger, born in London,
Second Generation Trust and Wiener Library, lives in London
Elly Miller, born in Vienna,
art publisher, lives in London
Rosemarie Nief, born in Siebenbürgen,
Wiener Library, lives in London
Anni Reich, born in Vienna,
Club 43 (Literature Club), lives in London
Ruth Rosenfelder, born in London,
Department of Gender and Music, City University, lives in London
Ruth Sands, born in Vienna,
Second Generation Trust, Wiener Library and Spiro Ark, lives in London
Nitza Spiro, born in Israel,
Spiro Ark, lives in London
Tamar Wang, born in London,
daughter of Elly Miller, publisher, lives in London
Instead of asking the protagonists to tell their family histories and thus reducing them to these histories we also talked about current political issues in Austria, the U.K. and Israel. We wanted to portray the women’s knowledge and thinking: What do they do in their work? Do their histories influence their profession? Do they think that there is a Jewish identity? How do they define their Jewishness? The simple question "Which places in London do you like?" triggered a more general discussion of the notion of place. The protagonists talked about the impossibility of attaching themselves to places as a possible after effect of emigration and expellation. The film's visual concept of framing places in London shall give the viewer space – to think and to position him/herself in relation to the women's hi/stories, experiences and thoughts.
Grand Union Canal
Hampstead Garden Suburb
When the women talk about events or experiences that are emotionally difficult for them the camera shows them in wide angle shots. From our position as descendants of perpetrators and bystanders we didn't want to "victimize" the women visually. When they tell us about their work, or when they address an Austrian audience in challenging ways the camera comes closer. Anita Makris and Daniel Pöhacker integrated this rather theoretical idea of representation into their documentary camera work. Rainer Egger developed an abstract if not modernist concept of filming the places in London the women had mentioned as important to them.
Things. Places. Years
A documentary by Klub Zwei:
Simone Bader and Jo Schmeiser
Camera: Anita Makris, Daniel Pöhacker, Rainer Egger
Editor: Maria Arlamovsky
A 2004, BetaSP, 4:3, Color, Stereo
Running time: 70 min.
Anita Makris, Daniel Pöhacker
Rainer Egger, Daniel Pöhacker
Zenzile and Jamika Ajalon
Amour fou Filmproduktion
Otto Mauer Fonds
Distribution and sales
“Things. Places. Years. is not simply a series of conversations with witnesses to history. In fact, the film leaves the boundaries of the documentary film genre behind it without appearing overdone. It is the pleasing restraint of both filmmakers that gives the twelve women the necessary space. The recordings of locations in London also comply with the desire to allow the women to speak. The film shows the places that are significant for the interviewees. However, the viewers are not given a false sense of comfort, as these images are contrasted with a lack of emotional connection to places and things that is repeatedly addressed. In its place, the broken history and memory impart the remnants of continuity.” (Heribert Schiedel, Die Jüdische; Translation: Emily Lemon)
“The interviews are structured thematically (not biographically). This is the first indication that the experiences of individuals are understood and conveyed as paradigmatic. Furthermore, the women are not reduced to the experiences linked to their origin, but rather get a chance to speak from their professional perspective as scientists, curators, and authors. Things. Places. Years. is characterized by an atmosphere of quiet distance and precision. It is certainly not emotional politics being practiced here, but rather reserved and respectful observation and chronicling. An exemplary approach to dealing with that part of history that some would so much like to consider finished, especially in the ‘Gedankenjahr (Year of Thought) 2005’.” (Isabella Reicher, Der Standard; Translation: Emily Lemon)
“Women are still underrepresented as subjects of history and memory. However, Things. Places. Years. wants to do more than just offset a deficit and add to an existing narrative. The significance of gender for the protagonists first becomes clear in that the hardship of their professional paths was also determined by the fact that they were responsible for the affective and reproductive work in the families. Like many other women, they were/are stuck in the dilemma of merging family and career. Yet it appears that children and family have different meanings for Jewish women and are accompanied by other responsibilities than for descendants of perpetrators.” (Antke Engel, Das Wissen jüdischer Frauen (The Knowledge of Jewish Women); Translation: Emily Lemon)
“Is the history from which Ruth Sands derives her sense of Jewish identity the same as that which makes Jewish identity, for Katherine Klinger, hard to grasp? Things. Places. Years. does not attempt to extract a consensus from the women’s statements, nor impose one on it, nor is it a history lesson. It is a film, that is, an intervention by Klub Zwei. The film accepts the severity of cutting many hours of interviews to seventy minutes. It suggests the telling of history as a form of interrupted speech, remembrance as interruption in the present. The cut permits the viewer to listen as if the women would speak for one another, and so, their differences in experience, in expression, in opinion, emerge as an equivocality in the identity we have projected on them.” (Anthony Auerbach, Lasso)
“Things. Places. Years. impresses with its precise photography and long, uncut tracking shots through suburbia that slide themselves between the interviews, punctuating the women’s stories, giving them space to resonate.” (Michael Omasta, Falter; Translation: Emily Lemon)