Leaving Home – Coming Home

A Trilogy by Ludwig Wüst 

Bernd Brehmer

Ludwig Wüst, a Viennese theatre director originally from Bavaria, was long considered an insider tip. But thanks to over forty theatre and opera productions and countless (underground) films, he has meanwhile created a Wüstian universe, which enjoys a steadily growing following. His cinematic work is constantly concerned with the question of where the concept of "home" can be found in one's own biography. And his films come alive thanks to his unerring knack for real-life dialogues, his fine intuition for repressed emotions and his ability to conjure up the spiritual behind material surfaces. Bildrausch, in cooperation with Neues Kino Basel, presents Ludwig Wüst's Leaving Home / Coming Home trilogy (My Father's House (2013), Departure (2018) and 3:30PM (2020)). In his "Wood Lecture", the director and trained carpenter also allows us to take a rare look at his (film) workshop. 


Finally, Ludwig Wüst, a unique voice in Austrian cinema, is also making an appearance in Switzerland. Born 1965 in Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) in Bavaria, he moved to Vienna at the age of 22 to study drama and singing at the University of Music and Performing Arts. Starting in 1990, he was active as a director, author and actor in over forty theatre and opera productions in Vienna, Leipzig, Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt am Main, which nine years later led him to take the logical step of making his first film, self-taught and influenced by the Dogme 95 movement.

Ten years later again, he enjoyed international attention for the first time with his feature film debut Koma (2009), where Wüst's universe is already laid out, together with the topics that he will not let go from then on. Alongside his filmmaking activities, he also completed an apprenticeship in carpentry, which he still practices four to six months every year. At Bildrausch, he will therefore also provide an insight into his (film) workshop with a "Wood Lecture".


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For the veritable "Austrian maverick" Ludwig Wüst, art, filmmaking and life flow together inseparably. His official oeuvre of five short and seven feature films (plus the odd by-product that pops up now and again) creates a cosmos that constitutes a permanent work in progress and continuously keeps telling its own story. Just like the works of the great photographer Robert Frank, who is evidently a soul mate of Wüst in essence and existence, together with filmmakers such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Artavazd Pelechian and Marguerite Duras. And who also directs his and our eyes on the ephemeral aspects of everyday life and shows characters who, almost unnoticed, try to live on the fringes of a society that offers them very little space. Robert Frank is also the originator of the motto of the film trilogy "Leaving Home / Coming Home", which we are presenting here.


"Going away in order to arrive" could be the slogan for the three films My Father's House (2013), Departure (2018) and 3:30PM (2020): on the one hand it refers to the specific, autobiographically influenced return to the parental home, on the other hand it alludes to the transcendental "journey to the last things" (Wüst). He frames all of this as a road movie without any esoteric bells and whistles, where the travellers find their way (back) to a transformed self – right up to the (for now) final trip, which digs up buried traumas and alludes to the possibility of finally being able to cope with them. In principle, he always investigates how the term "home" can be anchored in one's own biography. In spite of all the pent-up emotional baggage, Wüst always succeeds in making his minimalist stories seem like filmed haikus, like ink drawings brought to life with a light brush.


The director himself says that "technological progress has never taken mankind into consideration, which is why I want to make films that tell of things that can be experienced with the senses; things that we have actually long forgotten." (bb)


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