Hidden Reserves: Immortality, but at what price?
by Sixtine Neulat
- In his latest feature film, Valentin Hitz describes a dystopian society in which even the right to death must be bought
Almost 15 years on from his debut feature, Cold Front, Austrian director Valentin Hitz, who has been fascinated by immortality since he was a child, or rather by the idea of not having the right to die, planted this idea at the heart of his latest feature film. Awarded a Golden Eye at Zurich, three awards at the Austrian Film Awards and the Crystal Larch at Saas-Fee, Hidden Reserves [+see also:
interview: Valentin Hitz
film profile] was recently screened in the 7th Orbit Competition of the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.
This film takes us into a dystopian society in which you must insure your death, otherwise you are kept alive. But at what cost? The director shows us a negative version of immortality, in which your body is kept in a vegetative state and the government uses you as data storage until all your debts are repaid. Nevertheless, this system is presented in two different ways: first of all, from the point of view of Vincent Baumann (Clemens Schick), an emotionless career-oriented insurance broker, who is obsessed with selling insurance and the idea of a promotion, and then through the eyes of Lisa Sokulova (Lena Lauzemis), an activist willing to do anything to defend the right to die. Although they belong to two different worlds, they will have to work together to defend their secret interests.
This all takes place in a cold environment, devoid or colour or emotion. Director of photography Martin Gschlacht and artistic director Hannes Salat have done a remarkable job: on a tight budget, they have managed to create this dystopian society, the credibility of which is not an issue. As for the two lead actors, they deliver excellent performances, conveying as little emotion as possible. With Hidden Reserves, Valentin Hitz wanted to make the audience reflect on questions that have troubled him since his childhood: can your right to die be taken away from you? Who would then decide to let us live or die? Would it be the government, a group with financial interests or even a computer? Beyond the film’s expected impact, it also issues us with a warning on the current state of society, projecting us into a future which is perhaps not even all that far away.
Hidden Reserves was co-produced by Austria, Switzerland and Germany by production companies Freibeuter Film, Dschoint Ventschr Filmproduktion and Neue Mediopolis Filmproduktion. It will be released in Germany on 20 April, under the distribution of Camino Filmverleih.
(Translated from French)