Johannes Grenzfurthner is back at Unnamed Footage Festival and is once again is bringing to the table a film as unique and different as anything else at this or any festival. Last year’s fest included the extremely off-putting, yet most certainly genius Making Threshold. His approach to art as experiment, social commentary, and academic exercise is certainly not for everyone, but it’s clearly something that is as unique, powerful, and well-crafted as literally any art of any medium being released today. Grenzfurthner’s Razzennest is an exercise far different than virtually anything you’ve ever seen before.
Christianity is the ultimate death cult.
A faux-commentary track for a contemplative arthouse tome ostensibly on the murderous history of the Church, Razzennest is a satirical and intriguing film that fells fresh, singular, and bizarre, while somehow still being more accessible than Grenzfurthner’s most recent previous effort – which itself isn’t saying a lot since that film is such an unpleasant experience. Grenzfurthner calls the film a “necessary reflection on the undead legacy of murderous Christianity”, which is certainly a take I can understand, but is not necessarily something you’ll find merely on the surface. Then again, nothing about Grenzfurthner’s films is just about what’s on the surface.
The visuals of the film are striking but it’s the commentary’s voice acting and the way it all unravels into sheer madness that make the film something truly unique and brilliant. It’s so different than other films you’ll see this year that it may be unfair to even call it a film at all. In many ways, it plays as a full cast audiobook rather than a movie in any traditional sense, but the visuals really do accent what is going on in the story, especially in the final act. So while listening alone is likely something that could be effective, the audio/visual experience definitely strengthens the experience significantly.
Words cannot express what the experience of this film is like, but here are some words from Grenzfurthner himself that really give some great context of what to expect:
Razzennest not only gave me the unique opportunity to write a love letter to genre films and rain ridicule on pretentious arthouse films, but also to write a love letter to arthouse films and mock the inherent problems of genre films. It allowed me to realize my decades-old dream of making a film about the Thirty Years’ War and its endless atrocities without needing a budget of millions of dollars to depict the war’s bloody significance.
In addition to the twisted insanity of what you will hear, the involvement of Joe Dante as “the narrator” is quite an interesting addition, however brief. Hearing his voice, when it comes up, feels like a perfect accent to the film… a “cherry on top”, if you will. Alas, what you get in total here is something that you have to experience yourself to understand. And, even then, a second or third watch/listen may be necessary.
True brilliance is something I’ve begun to expect when I see the name Johannes Grenzfurthner attached to a property. His work is most certainly not for everyone, but it is most certainly for me. Film nerds, radio theater fans, and artists of all shapes and sizes need to prioritize checking this one out once it’s available in their area. In other words, Eggers can kiss Grenzfurthner’s Aster!
Razzennest played on Friday night, but information can be found at unnamedfootagefestival.com for the rest of the stellar program. Grab your tickets now and get your ass to the 4-Star.