Directed by Nikolaus Geyrhalter
Opens July 27, Anthology Film Archives
A documentary composed of vignettes of Europe by night, shot as though through the eyes of some inquisitive, unobtrusive, silent ghost, Abendland is fringed with scenes of aspirant immigrants turned away at the continent’s door. The rest of the film raises the question of why, exactly, anyone would want to come to this place. The film’s principal subjects are the eurozone’s service and security industries, showing a continent busy saving its citizens from themselves: There’s material from a phone-in psychoanalysis center, the dumping grounds of London’s surveillance-camera feed, and the detox tent at some massive biergarten—like much of the film, mordantly funny in a kind of pursed-lips, arched-eyebrows way. Geyrhalter, steadily working since 1994 and most famed for 2005’s survey of industrial food production, Our Daily Bread, is operating along parallel lines with fellow border-jumping Austrians Ulrich Seidl and Michael Glawogger, recording under-the-hood images of the global economy’s workings. Abendland was shot in Austria, Germany, the U.K., Spain, and unidentifiable other nations—though by the climactic scene, in which the camera shoulders across the endless dancefloor at a coliseum rave, you notice that you no longer have any idea where you are and, what’s more, that it doesn’t really matter.