2020, Austria
A film by Robert Schabus

37 minutes
Camera, editing: Robert Schabus
Idea: Gerhard Pilgram
Sound: Bertram Knappitsch
Music: Primus Sitter
Sound mixing: Andreas Frei

With: Inge Vavra, Bella Ban, Anthony Hall, Dietmar Pickl, Daniela Warmuth, Eva Reitmann, Werner Überbacher, Nora Leitgeb, Helga Mračnikar.

Ab:stand is a co-production of the University Cultural Centre UNIKUM and robert schabus // film.

With the almost 40-minutes film Ab:stand, the Carinthian filmmaker has created a sensitive contemporary document of the fourth week of corona-related initial restrictions in Klagenfurt.
Empty park benches in the spring sunshine are a recurring, seemingly tranquil motif in the film, which is countered by Primus Sitter with oppressive sounds. Artist Inge Vavra is the first to sit on it. She is one of nine representatives of the so-called "risk group" who appear in the film, mostly older people, some with pre-existing conditions; all of them belong to the art and culture scene. The thematic range of the interviews, which Schabus directs with great empathy, extends from private sensitivities in times of shutdown to highly political issues and questions. Reflections on stigmatisation and exclusion, on one's own mortality, the restriction of freedoms - all the major themes of this time of crisis come to the surface in a very organic and immediate way. There is reason for concern, Helga Mračnikar states, the closeness to and between people is missing. The air for living, for hoping, for loving is becoming scarce, according to Dietmar Pickl, quoting Cicero, not only in the case of Covid-19 disease, but also in the social fabric. Corona is a burning glass that ignites smouldering conflicts, while at the same time draws attention away from all other issues such as the refugee and climate crisis.
Between the interviews, Robert Schabus captured impressions of the city in slow motion: a strong symbol of the attitude towards life in the fourth week of complete standstill. The slowing down of everyday life, the breather that Corona gave us - these are the positive aspects of the crisis that are noticed by the interviewees. The few cars (among them some police cars on inspection) and pedestrians slowly move through the picture. In the parks, seesaws and swings wait for the children. A city bus with the inscription "Wherever" ("Wohin auch immer") drives by, into a future that has not become brighter.
(Translation of the German text by Annemarie Pilgram)