Writing and Silence (Das Schreiben und das Schweigen)

Italy/Germany/Austria 2009, Documentary, 90' | Director Carmen Tartarotti | Screenplay Carmen Tartarotti, Georg Janett | DoP Pio Corradi | Editor Carmen Tartarotti, Ferdinand Ludwig | Sound Carmen Tartarotti, Peter Utvary, Bruno Pisek, Martin Leitner | Production Carmen Tartarotti Filmproduktion

"I thought it should be a film about keeping silent. Writing and keeping silent. But how do you make something like that? Maybe for other authors it is possible for them to produce other things from their minds when they speak, whereas I cannot produce anything. I don't like to speak! And this will be the basis for making our film. We'll do that!"
Friederike Mayröcker

Friederike Mayröcker's studios are somehow a spatial reflection of the 'pneumatic shreds of language' that make up her texts. Surrounded by piles of manuscripts, sketches and artefacts, Friederike Mayröcker, long-standing partner of poet Ernst Jandl, has withdrawn from the outer world to steep herself in her inner world of images. Living and writing, contemplating and reading are one and the same thing.

For several years, then, Carmen Tartarotti discreetly accompanied the now 84-year-old renowned Austrian poetess - mostly alone, equipped just with a camera and a microphone - in the course of her working days, in her apartments and on her reading tours. One of the conditions for making the film was absolute consideration for the writer's life situation and her work rhythms, a condition that required a different approach. The fragile architecture in Mayröcker's apartment, for example, did not in any way permit the deployment of the usual camera and lighting equipment.

"I didn't allow myself an interpretation," says Carmen Tartarotti "but just stuck to the nuances in her voice, a quiet laugh, a deep breath, long pauses, questions, the echo of silence. [...] Writing and Silence is not a biographical film [...] but a reality per se."

Not that Friederike Mayröcker is a character who would obey the rules of the media anyway. In the light of her charisma, most categories simply disappear. Which is why the film is no ordinary portrait but instead develops its own irresistible charm.

Presented by film-dienst


CARMEN TARTAROTTI was born 1950 in South Tyrol, Italy. Studied German literature and politics in Frankfurt am Main. She made her first film portrait of Friederike Mayröcker in 1989 under the title of 1 Häufchen Blume 1 Häufchen Schuh (One Small Heap of Flower, One Small Heap of Shoe), for which she won the Literavision, a prize awarded by the City of Munich for exemplary TV programmes in the field of books and authors. Since 1979, Carmen Tartarotti has worked as an author, film director and producer in Germany, Austria and Italy: Lives in Frankfurt am Main and Berlin.

Carmen Tartarotti
Italy, Germany, Austria