Ruth Beckermann – The Poetry of the Ephemeral

Die papierene Brücke

The Paper Bridge

Ruth Beckermann

Austria 1987. 95 Min.
Color. DCP. D/e

“I am filmated”, says old Herbert Gropper triumphantly in Bukowina, a region belonging to Romania, in a German that betrays its distance to active usage: “This time for immortality. I wouldn’t even have dreamed of the possibility of giving rise to a film image one day.” His words reflect the poetry and politics of Ruth Beckermann’s films, and The Paper Bridge occupies a central place in her opus. “Resistance over time”, Gropper says about the role of the Jewish cemetery in the Romanian town of Siret. And this is what the film is about: it brings together what once was with present-day topics, and expands on the filmmaker’s own family history. Beckermann’s father came from the East, and his migratory paths towards the West are retraced by impressive and characteristic camera movements in buses and cars from right to left. From Jewish life in Romania and Yugoslavia in the mid-1980s – which was a result of the Holocaust – to Vienna, where Austrian fascism rears its anti-Semitic face on the streets in the wake of the Waldheim affair. Between these two poles we have Jews from Austria who play themselves in an American television production, among other things because this gives them the opportunity to free themselves from history. (md)


DirectorRuth Beckermann
ScreenplayRuth Beckermann
CinematographyNurith Aviv, Claire Bailly du Bois
EditingGertraud Luschützky
MusicArvo Pärt
WithRabbi Wassermann, Herbert Gropper, Salo Beckermann, Robert Schinde
ProducersJosef Aichholzer, Ruth Beckermann

Ruth Beckermann

Ruth Beckermann is a filmmaker and author based in Vienna. Her films include The Paper Bridge, East of War and American Passages. In 2014 her film Those Who Go Those Who Stay received the big documentary film prize at the Diagonale in Graz. Two years later The Dreamed Ones was also honored there as best feature film. The Waldheim Waltz received several awards, including the Glashütte Original – Documentary Award for best documentary film at the Berlinale 2018, as well as an Oscar nomination. In 2019 Ruth Beckermann created the installation Joyful Joyce for the Salzburg Festival.