SHIRLEY – VISIONS OF REALITY (93', Austria, 2013)

Screening: Su, 15 Dec., Studio Cinema, 7:30pm

“An impressive cinematic recreation of images and moods for Hopper cognoscenti, it more controversially puts the American realist's work in a social, political and cultural context.” (Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter)


A treat for both cinema and visual art lovers, world premiered at Berlinale 2013, SHIRLEY – VISIONS OF REALITY is a unique cinematic event, a fascinating dialogue both between painting and cinema and between personal and political history. An homage to the iconic American painter Edward Hopper, the film brings to life through the means of cinema 13 of his paintings, to tell the story of a woman whose thoughts, emotions and contemplations let us observe an era in American history. In a series of breath-taking tableaux vivants, DEUTSCH's impressive set design, together with the remarkable lighting by cinematographer Jerzy Palacz, brilliantly recreate Hopper's visual universe, valuing its inherent cinematic and narrative qualities. The film follows the life of Shirley, a liberated “woman in America in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and early 60s. A woman who would like to influence the course of history with her professional and socio-political involvement, who does not accept the reality of the Depression years, WWII, the McCarthy era, race conflicts and civil rights campaigns as given, but rather as generated and adjustable. A woman whose work as an actress has familiarized her with the staging of reality, the questioning and shaping of it; an actress who doesn’t identify her purpose and future with that of solo success or stardom, but who strives to give social potency to theatre as part of a collective. A woman who cannot identify with the traditional role model of a wife yet longs to have a life partner.” (GUSTAV DEUTSCH)


With the support of:


Cast: Stephanie Cumming, Christoph Bach, Florentin Groll, Elfriede Irrall, Tom Hanslmaier

Screenplay: Gustav Deutsch

Cinematography: Jerzy Palacz

Art Direction: Gustav Deutsch

Editing: Gustav Deutsch

Music: Christian Fennesz & David Sylvian

Sound: Christoph Amann

Producer: Gabriele Kranzelbinder

Production: KGP Kranzelbinder Gabriele Production


World Sales


Miriam Kienberger / RO: Melinda Boroș

+431524931034 / RO: +40720027611 / RO:

miriam[at]eastwest-distribution[dot]com / RO: melinda[at]clorofilm[dot]ro


GUSTAV DEUTSCH (b. 1952, Vienna) – visual artist, filmmaker, architect, photographer and musician – is one of the most prominent names of the Austrian contemporary avant-garde and one of the key filmmakers of the international experimental cinema scene. In his extravagant, highly playful and often humorous “remixes” of film history, DEUTSCH’s filmmaking looks for a “sensual comprehension” of the cinematic medium and for an understanding of the ways in which cinema, history and individual lives are intertwined. From 1970 to 1979 he studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technology. During that time he started creating his first photography series and numerous video works. During 1980 to 1983 he was a member of Medienwerkstatt Wien, during which time he met Hanna Schimek, with whom he has collaborated since 1984, under the name D&S. Since 1983, DEUTSCH has been a member of the international artists’ group Der Blaue Kompressor – Floating & Stomping Company (DBK). In 2003, he became the artistic director of the Aegina Academy in Athens.



Selective awards and recognition

2009: Honorable Mention – Viennale (FILM IST. A GIRL & A GUN)

2005: Best Film Award – EXiS Mediafestival, Seoul (WELT SPIEGEL KINO)

2003: Best Editing Award – Ann Arbor Film Festival (FILM IST. A GIRL & A GUN)

2002: Curators Award – Cinema Texas (FILM IST. A GIRL & A GUN)

2000: Main Prize – VIPER Festival for Film, Video and New Media (ODYSSEY TODAY CD-ROM)                

2000: Main Prize – Ann Arbor Film Festival (FILM IST. A GIRL & A GUN)

2000: Silver Spire Award, Int. Filmfestival San Francisco (FILM IST. A GIRL & A GUN)

1999: Honorary Award for Film Art, BKA Austria

1999: Main Prize – Mediacity Fimfestival (FILM IST. A GIRL & A GUN)

1997: Team Work Award – Stuttgarter Filmwinter (MARIAGE BLANC)

1996: Preis Neues Kino – Viennale 96 (TASCHENKINO and FILM IST MEHR ALS FILM)

1995: Anerkennungspreis des Landes Niederösterreich für künstlerischen Film

1994: Main Prize – DOKUMENTART Neubrandenburg (AUGENZEUGEN DER FREMDE)

1992: Förderungspreis für Bildende Kunst, BMUK (DIE KUNST DER REISE)

1984: Prize of the Belgium TV RTBF (ASUMA)

Berlinale 2013

Karlovy Vary 2013

Melbourne 2013

Hong-Kong 2013

Festival du Nouveau Cinéma de Montréal 2013

Viennale 2013

DOK.fest München 2013

IndieLisboa International Independent Film Festival 2013

Filmfest Basel 2013

New Horizon Film Festival Wroclaw Poland 2013

Split Film Festival Croatia 2013

Flanders International Film Festival Ghent Belgium 2013

Image Forum Festival Japan 2013


“Having as point of departure the cinematic recontextualization of 13 paintings by Edward Hopper, through a complex process of turning them into tableaux vivants and through an audio extension of the reality they portray in the hors-champ, GUSTAV DEUTSCH lays out, in SHIRLEY – VISIONS OF REALITY, two types of history: the socio-economic one of America from 1931 to 1963, evoked through the perspective of a second one, the imagined biography of his protagonist, Shirley, an actress part of the Living Theater group. Stephanie Cumming plays a visionary female character (in terms of lucidity), who embodies that certain feeling of alienation, endemic to the women as portrayed by Hopper himself, and that certain grace of the body posture hiding angst and affection at the same time.


Her long-term relationship with Stephen, a photojournalist – a man who turns blind, by contrast to having chased all his life for images and the stories behind them – expresses a paradoxical mixture of tenderness and estrangement, minutely choreographed, visible especially by means of setting in opposition the Mrs. Dalloway-esque inner monologue of the woman and the silence of this moderate and well-behaved man. In the sequence based on the Western Motel painting – set in one of the many liminal spaces preferred by Hopper – the rupture between the two, as well as the idea that we often stage our own lives, are memorably emphasized when Stephen asks Shirley to pose for him, through one of her inner lines, coalesced with her direct and unyielding gaze into the camera: To be treated by the closest person in your life like a stranger, to become somebody else; somebody I created for his imagination, for him. However, later in time, a different scene from the movie theater, based on Hopper's painting Intermission – in which Shirley, while watching by herself a French movie, Une aussi longue absence (directed by Henri Colpi, 1961), fictively represents Stephen's physical presence there – evokes an indestructible emotional and sensual bond between them.


Starting with the attention paid to the construction of the set-design and ending with the creative process in its entirety, DEUTSCH’s demarche reflects, on one side, his view that history is made of personal stories, while, in a different respect, it engages the viewer in a perceptive game, through which the latter gradually immerses in this painterly vision of reality of a highly intensified 3D quality, yet, at the same time, is simultaneously reminded – stylistically and by narrative means also – of the illusory character of the (cinematographic) medium.” (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)

alternate links (YOUTUBE): TRAILER / MAKING OF