Scene from the film Happy-End
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Happy-End is a found footage film: the re-working of someone else's home movies from the 60s and 70s. The sequences selected are taken from many hours of the staged private life of Rudolf and Elfriede, pivoting on demonstrative celebrations, alcohol and cake consumption together.

Who watched these two before Peter Tscherkassky's (and then our) gaze fell on their gaiety? Who stood behind the camera? I think that the theory that they themselves are responsible (in expectancy of their own spectatorship - look, it was so wonderful there) misses the mark. Neither is it a hidden camera, since Rudolf and Elfriede turn to it laughing, gesticulating and with glass in hand. It must be their child, a child who never enters the picture himself, except in the form of a symbolic doll and recurring mirrors wich evidence his doings.

I think that Rudolf and Elfriede fell in love in the summer of 1952 as Annie Cordy's hit could be heard from every speaker: "Bonbons, Caramels, Esquimaux, Chocolats". In 1958 their son was born, shortly after a first movie camera was bought. At the beginning of the 70s the son took over the direction of the annual celebration films. He also captured on film the sexual joy which hovers lightly between the sparkling wine and the Sachertorte.

Twenty years later the child, by now a grown man, sees these rediscovered films again.

To his surprise they don't embarrass him in the least. He understands how the home movies of that time led him to avant-garde film: the single frame tricks, and the many technically determined jumps, flashes and wipes puncture not only the cinematographic illusion but also the function of these films - the maintenance of the privacy of passing lives - Paradise Not Yet Lost. He digs deeper into the personal effects of his parents and pulls out older pictures shot from a hand-held camera, with its characteristic movement, that must stem from "before his time". He veils his "own" pictures with them and re-writes the story of Rudolf and Elfriede in reverse time, back into a pre-linguistic world of secrets. The burden of hard-won film and family theory drops from him, the vortex of picture and feelings becomes an "eternal requiem" for his parents and a homage to his mother, as she spins round, slower and slower, laughing like an old jazz-singer. And so he is working against the pain of the knowledge that he could not express this closeness during the lifetime of Rudolf and Elfriede. What a sad, happy end!


  • Original Title
  • Direction
  • Screenplay
    Peter Tscherkassky
  • Cinematography
  • Editing
    Peter Tscherkassky
  • Runtime
    11 min (1-15 min.)
  • Year
  • Country
    • Austria
  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Festivals
    • Aix-en-Provence - Festival Tous Courts 1997
    • Amascultura - Encontros Internacionais de Cinema Documental 1997
    • Austin - Cinetexas - Int. short film&video&new media festival 1997
    • Denver - Int. Film Festival 1997
    • Huesca - Festival de Cine 1997
    • Locarno - Festival Int. De la Video et Arts Electroniques 1997
    • Milano - DOC 1997
    • New Orleans - Film & Video Festival 1997
    • New York - Film Festival 1997
    • Osnabrück - European Media Art Festival 1997
    • Pesaro - Film Festival 1997
    • Rotterdam - Int. Filmfestival 1997
    • Split - Festival of New Film and Video 1997
    • Trencianske Teplice - Int. Art Film Festival 1997
    • Utrecht - Impakt Festival 1997
    • Winterthur - Kurzfilmtage 1997
    • Aix-en-Provence - Festival Tous Courts 1998
    • Ann Arbor - Film Festival 1998
    • Helsinki - MUU Media Festival 1998
    • Humboldt - Int. Film Festival 1998
    • Leeuwarden/NL - Noordelijk Film Festival 1998
    • Luzern - VIPER - Int. Film-,Video-& Multimedia-Festival 1998
    • Olympia - Film Festival 1998
    • Stuttgart - Filmwinter, Expanded Media Festival 1998
    • Stuttgart - Filmwinter, Expanded Media Festival 1998
    • Toronto - IMAGES - Independent Film & Video Festival 1998
    • Uppsala - Int. Short Film Festival 1998
    • Vic / E - Mostra de Film Documental 1998
    • Regensburg - Kurzfilmwoche 1999
    • Teplice - Int. Art Film Festival Trencianske 1999
    • Split - Festival of New Film and Video 2000
    • Wunsiedel - Grenzland Filmtage 2000
    • Aix-en-Provence - Festival Tous Courts 2001
    • Austin - Cinetexas - Int. short film&video&new media festival 2001
    • Brest - Festival du Film Court 2001
    • Cork - Int. Film Festival 2002
    • Helsinki - Avanto Media Art Festival 2002
    • Luzern - VIPER - Int. Film und Video Festival 2002
    • Winterthur - Kurzfilmtage 2002
    • Ankara - Festival on Wheels 2004
    • Buenos Aires Festival Int. de Cine Independiente BAFICI 2004
    • Pesaro - Film Festival 2004 is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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