Review: ‘State of the Nation: Austria in Six Chapters’

Four Austrian helmers put their own country under the microscope in "State of the Nation." Docu, triggered by the election of right-wing president Joerg Haider in 2000, shows a land full of eccentrics, carpers, right-wingers and people with common sense -- not so different from any country, in fact. On the rep of the directors, fest sidebars will bite.

Four Austrian helmers put their own country (and, unknowingly, themselves) under the microscope in “State of the Nation.” Loaded docu, triggered by the election of right-wing president Joerg Haider in early 2000, shows a land full of eccentrics, carpers, right-wingers and people with common sense — not so different from any other country, in fact. On the rep of the directors, including Barbara Albert (“Nordrand”) and Ulrich Seidl (“Dog Days”), fest sidebars will bite.

Chaptered segs most recognizable for their posed compositions are by Seidl, who has fun with easy targets like a house-proud wacko and an opinionated couple in a bar. Hitching round the country, Michael Glawogger finds people with sharp observations: Austrians “like to whine a lot,” says one driver, and, regarding Haider, a woman notes, “in the end, the Austrian is a sheep. It’s easy to trick him.” Rather old-fashionedly, Albert focuses on eight women, from young mothers to assembly-line workers, but finds no consensus by sex or age on issues like immigration. “Catholic rules: order in everything — you can’t beat that out of Austrians,” says one. Nor out of New Wave filmers.

State of the Nation: Austria in Six Chapters

Austria

Production

A Lotus Films production. (International sales: Lotus, Vienna.) Produced by Erich Lackner, Klaus Pridnig. Directed, written by Barbara Albert, Michael Glawogger, Ulrich Seidl, Michael Sturminger.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Eva Testor, Glawogger, Seidl; editor, Karina Ressler; music, Patrick Pulsinger. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Filmmakers of the Present), Aug. 3, 2002. Running time: 88 MIN.
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