Anthology Film Archives

Gustav Deutsch's 'how we live - messages to the family'

May 19 – June 1

Gustav Deutsch
how we live – messages to the family / so leben wir – botschaften an die familie

2017, 107 min, digital. In German with English subtitles. Distributed by Sixpack Film. Presented with support from the Austrian Cultural Forum New York and Deutsches Haus at NYU.

Anthology presents a virtual theatrical engagement of the final film by renowned Austrian filmmaker Gustav Deutsch, who passed away in November 2019. Deutsch was a master of found-footage cinema, demonstrated most extensively in his celebrated multi-film series, FILM IST. how we live – messages to the family is a fitting capstone, utilizing home movies to tell the story of various families from different periods of the last century – all of them immigrants or travelers whose amateur films function as filmic letters sent home to those left behind – and juxtaposing this footage with a contemporary analogue: footage generated by Deutsch; his wife, artist Hanna Schimek; and their friend and collaborator Mostafa Tabbou on a journey to Tabbou’s Moroccan homeland.

“‘Imagine we are sitting at home, the screen is set up, the projector ready, and we start watching home movies together,’ suggests the calm voice of the filmmaker Gustav Deutsch at the beginning of how we live. The film assumes this same calm as it undertakes its journey via amateur film recordings gathered from archives in Austria, Italy, Holland and England, ‘traveling’ from Boston to Italy, from the USA to Austria’s Burgenland, from Maryland to Greece, between Vienna, Sydney and Switzerland. The film employs a broad media-archeological array in the form of letter writing: from early color home movies to video and digital cell phone images and skype. The family recordings that structure the film are like moving postcards, telling of various lives and lifepaths from the 20th century. But they also speak to the medium of film as a tool of everyday life, to a function of bridging distances that came to make the ‘family of man’ possible as a community, its biographies increasingly marked by migratory patterns. […] The material that Deutsch has gathered is interwoven with the trip of Moroccan Mostafa Tabbou from his new home in Holland to Morocco, a journey undertaken by Gustav Deutsch with his wife Hanna Schimek and which itself becomes a home movie. And so the film not only produces a community between various people from various places, but also establishes a timeless togetherness, allowing generations of filmmakers to speak to one another and, via the medium of the movie screen, to us.” –Alejandro Bachmann

To pre-order how we live, click here.

For a related program devoted to home movies and amateur filmmaking, see our concurrent series, “The Al Larvick Fund Presents: Regional Films of Politics and Parody”, streaming for free starting on May 12.

Upcoming Screenings

  • Gustav Deutsch
    how we live – messages to the family
    May 19 at 7:00 PM
    May 20 at 7:00 PM
    May 21 at 7:00 PM
    May 22 at 7:00 PM
    May 23 at 7:00 PM
    May 24 at 7:00 PM
    May 25 at 7:00 PM
    May 26 at 7:00 PM
    May 27 at 7:00 PM
    May 28 at 7:00 PM
    May 29 at 7:00 PM
    May 30 at 7:00 PM
    May 31 at 7:00 PM
    June 1 at 7:00 PM

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