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Jem Cohen / Austria, USA / 2012 / 106 min

At the Vienna Art Museum, a museum guard and a visitor find refuge in art and each other, in Cohen’s partly documentary rumination on how art influences and echoes contemporary society.

Vienna, winter. Johann, a guard at the grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum encounters Anne, a foreign visitor called to Austria because of a friend’s medical emergency. Never having been to Austria and with little money, she wanders the city in limbo, taking the museum as her refuge. Johann, initially wary, offers help, and they’re drawn into each other’s worlds. Their meetings spark an unexpected series of explorations of their own lives and the life of the city, and of the way artworks can reflect and shape daily experience.

»How to make movies that don’t tell us just where to look and what to feel? How to make films that encourage viewers to make their own connections, to think strange thoughts, to be unsure of what happens next or even ‘what kind of movie this is’? How to focus equally on small details and big ideas, and to combine some of the immediacy and openness of documentary with characters and invented stories? These are the things I wanted to tangle with, using the museum as a kind of fulcrum.« (Jem Cohen)

Jem Cohen
Born in 1962 in Kabul, Cohen is based in New York City, his hometown. He graduated from the Wesleyan University in 1984, with a concentration in film and photography. His works have been included in the permanent collections of various museums of modern art. He is especially known for his observational portraits of urban landscapes, blending of media formats (16mm, Super 8, video) and collaborations with music artists.

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