91 minutes

Austrian documentarist Nikolaus Geyrhalter's latest project deploys his usual method of shooting footage all over the world according to a specific theme, then assemble a selection of the material in a wordless storytelling that makes its points without any editorialising and exclusively through visual montages and juxtaposition. On Abendland, though, this method (which worked with poignant or disturbing results in the previous Our Daily Bread) seems to have been taken to its limits, the collage format apparently too rigid for the looser concept of night-time occupations, from mail sorters and paramedics to policemen doing the rounds and Oktoberfest waiters.

     Mr. Geyrhalter's methodical assemblages are by now a routine unto itself and the irony that might be found in juxtaposing footage of London close-circuit-camera analysts with blustering MPs at the European Parliament in Brussels, or Spanish cops patrolling the shores of Melilla to avoid any illegal immigrants to come ashore with mindless ravers at a Dutch festival quickly seems somewhat forced and, above all, lacking in the desired sense of poetry. And the mesmerizing effect of the director's trademark static long takes is blunted by the apparent disconnection between all these events happening all over the world with night as their single common theme. The end result, as impeccably done and clinically observational as is Mr. Geyrhalter's wont, is also bizarrely superfluous and much less engaging than usual.

Directed and photographed (colour, processing by Listo, Synchro Film) by Nikolaus Geyrhalter; produced by Mr. Geyrhalter, Markus Glaser, Michael Kitzberger, Wolfgang Widerhofer; screenplay by Mr. Widerhofer, Maria Arlamovsky, Mr. Geyrhalter, based on a dramatic structure by Mr. Widerhofer; film editor, Mr. Widerhofer; sound designer, Daniel Fritz.
     A Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion production in cooperation with ORF and ZDF/3sat, with the support of the Austrian Film Institute and Vienna Film Fund. (World sales, Autlook Films.)
     Screened: DocLisboa 2011 official competition advance screener, Lisbon, October 22nd 2011. 


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