WOODLAND (TIFF 2023) – Review by Rachel West

A naked woman tilts her head back and screams into the sky in the opening frames of Elisabeth Scharang’s Woodland. It’s a compelling and bold way to begin a film that will quietly tell a story filled with anger, fear, trauma, forgiveness, and, ultimately, healing. Woodland is inspired by Doris Knecht’s novel Wald and Scharang’s personal experience witnessing a 2020 terrorist attack by a shooter in Vienna which left four people dead and 23 others injured. A soul-searching drama, Woodland is an appropriately moody and healing experience that should resonate with audiences.

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Elisabeth Scharang on WOODLAND (TIFF 2023) – Marina Richter interviews

Austrian helmer Elisabeth Scharang’s breath-taking drama Woodland is about one woman’s struggle to cope with a deep scarring trauma. Set up in a secluded village in Waldviertel, the story unfolds slowly, carefully introducing new elements along the way. This multi-facetted film addresses many illnesses of our contemporary life without being preachy or didactic, focusing on its main character(s) to speak about what happens once we’re torn out of our comfort zone. Says Elisabeth Scharang: “When people get murdered or really hurt, even if you are physically present you feel like you don’t have the right to call yourself a victim”

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A HIDDEN LIFE – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Terrence Malick’s fans will not be surprised that A Hidden Life unfolds for almost three hours with overwhelmingly gorgeous cinematography and character introspection. Based on true events, in 1939, Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter resides in St. Radegund, a beautiful, incongruously quiet mountain village. War looming, Franz reports to basic training, leaving behind wife Fani and three daughters.

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