Hotel Roccalba

Sunday afternoon in Hotel Roccalba: Is this an old-age-home, a recreational facility or simply a hotel?

(production note)


Where they are isn´t very important. What they´re doing isn´t either. The setting - a hotel that appears to be Italian, apparently situated at some altitude - is significant primarily because it provides conditions for an infectious mood. Twelve individuals are engrossed in their various (in)activities, and are only vaguely aware of their surroundings. Time is elastic, an atmosphere of dissipation, which the plot seems to pad in a strange way, spreads. Varied movement is present on the soundtrack only: a recording of Verdi´s Simon Boccanegra is being played on a turntable, countered by a broadcast of a soccer match coming from a radio. Josef Dabernig´s black-and-white film Hotel Roccalba has set itself up in an in-between space. The protagonists knit, fix a bicycle, read while lying down or standing, chop wood, sip espresso or put on makeup. One of them, Dabernig playing himself, is getting a haircut.
Precisely because everything appears to be so ordinary, there could be more here than meets the eye. While everyone´s actions are unconnected, they´re all coordinated, and would be half as meaningful in isolation. Things that happen outside situations and provoke actions, the interval in which things reveal their essence, has fascinated Dabernig in his previous works: This time the alternation between closely composed shots showing individuals and actions in isolation, and then larger ensembles, creates a group of solo operators. Hotel Roccalba consists of three scenes with hardly any interaction, though at the same time they´re dominated by tense concentration: a place where meanings enjoy their leisure.

(Dominik Kamalzadeh)

Translation: Steve Wilder

More Texts

Hotel Roccalba, Texte Française

L'endroit où ils se trouvent n'a guère d'importance. Ni d'ailleurs ce qu'ils sont en train de faire. Le lieu (un hôtel de style italien, vraisemblablement situé en hauteur) n'est intéressant qu'en ce qu'il donne un ordre d'idée de l'ambiance et de sa convivialité. Douze personnes y séjournent, plongées dans leur (in)activité et n'ayant que partiellement conscience de leur environnement. Le temps semble extensible, un état de distraction s'installe, qui rend l'action étrangement cotonneuse. Seul le son présente une dynamique contrastée : sur la platine tourne Simon Boccanegra de Verdi auquel répond la retransmission radio d'un match de football. Le film en noir et blanc de Josef Dabernig, Hotel Roccalba, se déploie dans un espace intermédiaire. Les protagonistes tricotent, réparent un vélo, lisent allongés, ou debout, fendent du bois, sirotent un espresso, se maquillent... L'un deux, interprété par Dabernig en personne, se fait raser la tête.
Et c'est précisément parce que tout cela semble tellement prosaïque qu'on se plaît à imaginer ce qui se cache derrière. Chacun agit de façon isolée, mais les actions s'interfèrent toutes et perdraient, prises séparément, une grande part de leur sens. Ce qui se produit en marge de situations, ce que provoquent les actes, l'interstice dans lequel les choses révèlent leur essence, voilà ce qui fascinait déjà Dabernig dans ses précédentes œuvres. Cette fois, la succession de plans rigoureusement composés qui, montrant des personnes et des actions isolées, parvient néanmoins à créer des ensembles, génère un collectif de tueurs solitaires. Hotel Roccalba est constitué de trois scènes dans lesquelles les interactions sont rares, mais où règne un état d'attention détendue : un lieu où les significations s'adonnent au farniente.
(Dominik Kamalzadeh)


Traduction: Françoise Guiguet

Wavelengths Preview 2, Thursday, August 27, 2009 (Critique)

Until watching Hotel Roccalba and then immediately googling Dabernig to learn more about him, I'd forgotten about his previous film, Lancia Thema, which screened in Wavelengths three years ago. I remember wondering at the time why Andrea Picard was so enthusiastic about him -- the film struck me as slight and offbeat, like a Stella Artois ad -- but Hotel Roccalba may have made me a believer. The film opens on a shot of two women knitting outside. He then cuts to others in the courtyard -- an old man chopping wood, a bicyclist repairing his bike, a woman in a lawn chair. It's only after introducing his characters -- and make no mistake, these are staged tableau, this is a fiction -- that Dabernig situates them in space by planting his camera on a tripod and panning 180 degrees.
Hotel Roccalba is also relatively slight and offbeat, funny even, but the execution is so precise and Dabernig's cutting so angular and shocking that it feels right at home in Wavelengths. My favorite section of the film involves an elderly man and a put-upon bartender who wouldn't be out of place in Satantango. As in the opening sequence, Dabernig reveals their relationship gradually and in splintered fragments, cutting from a series of medium one-shots to a long-range, wide-angle shot that provides something like an objective perspective on them both. A note to cinema studies teachers: this would be a great piece for a unit on editing.

http://www.longpauses.com/blog/2009/08/wavelengths-preview-2.html

TIFF 09: WAVELENGTHS PREVIEW by Michael Sicinski (Critique)

TIFF 09: WAVELENGTHS PREVIEW – PART ONE

Hotel Roccalba (Josef Dabernig, Austria)

Apparently over two years in the making (the artist displayed the script in a gallery exhibition in 2007, with suitably Structural / Conceptual directorial commentary), Hotel Roccalba is a small wonder, the sort of film that somehow manages to astonish with its precision while at the same time allow enough basic human breathing room to permit limitless discovery. The basic set-up: Dabernig had his family act as non-professional performers in a not-quite-ten-minute film in the run-down titular inn in the Italian Alps. Roccalba begins with quick bursts of human industry: an older gentleman (Dabernig, Sr., I believe) chopping wood in the yard next to two middle-aged women in lawn chairs working on some very rapid knitting. Over on the sidewalk by the building, a younger man tinkers with his upturned bike. Inside the rooms of the hotel, there is a haircut, the application of make-up, and a very standoffish bartender / drinker interaction. But what makes Hotel Roccalba so remarkable is Dabernig's unerring sense of composition, editing and blocking. At first, we don't know what we're seeing, so we don't realize that these scenes are staged. When that's the case, Dabernig exhibits a remarkable ability to break a single scene into multiple fragments, all within seconds. (One of the few contemporary filmmakers I can think of who works in this manner is José Luis Guerín.) The film is full of gentle misdirections; Dabernig's formal flourishes become a little trickier as the goings-on move from industry to torpor. But this isn't exactly right. What really defines Hotel Roccalba is a bizarre, thrilling sense of the disorganized, random stuff of life being invisibly, imperceptibly choreographed, a God-like aspect that is gradually revealed, becoming a kind of Cubist hysteria. The final shot is an overhead of an older woman (Dabernig's mom, I think), wandering from person to person, asking what they're doing. The film's parting shot, then: active, almost aggressive non-productivity. (Did I mention this is a comedy?)

http://www.theauteurs.com/notebook/posts/1005
Orig. Title
Hotel Roccalba
Year
2008
Country
Austria
Duration
10 min
Director
Josef Dabernig
Category
Avantgarde/Arts
Orig. Language
no dialogue
Credits
Director
Josef Dabernig
Cinematography
Christian Giesser
Editing
Josef Dabernig
Sound Design
Michael Palm
Actor/Actress
Annemarie Dabernig, Anni Dabernig, Karin Franz, Isabella Hollauf, Georg Schöllhammer, Otto Zitko, Ingeburg Wurzer, Josef Dabernig Sen., Wolfgang Dabernig, Josef Dabernig, Hedwig Saxenhuber, Maria Franz
Production
Josef Dabernig
Supported by
BKA. Kunst, ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen
Available Formats
35 mm (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
1:1,37
Sound Format
Dolby Surround
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
b/w
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
1:1,85
Sound Format
stereo
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
b/w
Digital File (prores, h264)
Festivals (Selection)
2008
Locarno - Festival Int. de film
Viennale - Vienna Int. Film Festival
2009
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Miami - Film Festival
Oberhausen - Int. Kurzfilmtage
Wien - VIS Vienna Independent Shorts
Sao Paulo - Short Film Festival
Toronto - Int. Film Festival
London - BFI International Film Festival
Montréal - Festival du Nouveau Cinéma
Ankara - Festival of European Film / Festival on Wheels
Ankara - Festival of European Film / Festival on Wheels