Screening in presence of the director Johannes Gierlinger.
“Past futures” is a political-poetic reflection on the events and acts of revolutions. The starting point for this essayistic film is the March Revolution of 1848 in Vienna.
What remains of a revolution? When is it considered to have failed? How do their achievements manifest themselves? Do all revolutions have a long breath?
In the film, two fictional characters in Vienna are on the search, stroll through time and space and want one thing: to understand what future is in the past and what past is in the future. Like urban Archaeologists they look for long-forgotten reminiscences of historical struggles and connect them with today’s forms of political resistance. Monuments, historic sights and central buildings of the 1848 Revolution are questioned about their importance and connection to the present and contrasted with political demonstrations of the past years. Thereby “Past Futures” reflects the practice of collective remembering and forgetting. What does the way we remember say about ourselves? What does it say about the time in which we live and about our possible futures? How does history – largely unnoticed by us – inscribe itself in our present and what can we learn from it about the modern day(s) and future(s)? In “Past Futures” fragments of the past and images of the present are rearranged and put together. Even today, the street is the focal point where social issues and tensions manifest and discharge. The camera has documented political demonstrations in Vienna over the years – including demonstrations by the right-wing and their counter-demonstrators, the “Fridays for Future” movement, and advocates of the independence of Biafras.
The film shows that every political movement today already harbors a past future, just as it also carries a past future that will be contextualized anew by someone else in a few years’ time. Johannes Gierlinger’s film represents an attempt to understand the essence of the political by questioning public space. The search for traces of the two independently acting protagonists clearly shows us the complexity of collective memory and understanding of the present. The film is at the same time a portrait of a city and its culture of remembrance as well as a contemporary historical document of current political movements in Europe.
A political-poetic essay on past, present and future revolutions, which, following Walter Benjamin, also asks the question: Do the achievements of the past have to be protected from the present?