Douglas Wolfsperger - director
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by Federico Greco and Mazzino Montinari
Bellaria – So lange wir leben, a documentary by Douglas Wolfsperger, is about a group of elderly people whose lives are inevitably drawing to a close. They spend their time remembering the past and events that they will never experience again. Their entire existence is projected to the past but the sad thing is that the only world they ever cared about no longer exists and they can only find remnants at their beloved Bellaria.
How did you hear about the Bellaria cinema?
“Reading an article in my local paper about this old Viennese cinema. I was fascinated by this place and departed for Vienna to see the Bellaria for myself. I discovered this group of old folks who meet every afternoon at 4 p.m. to see old films from the 40s. Once I got to know them, I realised that their stories would be perfect for a documentary.”
How long did it take to get your film made?
“The preparation was extenuating and very difficult – especially finding the money. I filmed the story in three-and-a-half weeks and the editing, the most complex part of the process, took a further three months. During that time I met the old people and followed them around as they went about their everyday business. I never knew what would happen next. Some of the situations had to be organised first but only because of the problems associated with moving and placing the crew and the equipment. There was no screenplay as such although I had written a fifteen-page treatment. The hardest part was editing fifty hours’ worth of footage into the final film.”
The documentary was screened at the Bellaria. What was the reaction of the audience?
"Initially I was really worried because I thought that some of the protagonists would be unhappy since they talk about extremely personal things in the film. In the end, they were all very pleased and even ended up signing autographs like real stars. I am really happy that I had the opportunity to meet these people as well as for the success my documentary is having at a number of festivals".