Phantom Foreign Vienna

an avant-garde film by Lisl Ponger
World Premiere: IFF Rotterdam 2004

Austria // 2003 // 27 min // 35mm (Super 8 blow-up)


A Taiwanese celebration, a Nigerian Harvest thanksgiving, a Turkish wedding, the official state holiday of the Ivory Coast, a Thai New Year, a Roma meeting, a Czech booze up. Almost every country, every culture, every ethnicity is represented in a large Middle European city such as Vienna, and has its own forms and conventions for preserving its identity. People meet each other in congress centers and backrooms, in restaurants and places of worship. In the years 1991 and 1992 Lisl Ponger undertook a systematic search for “Fremdes Wien” [Foreign Vienna]. She kept a diary of her encounters. Eleven years later she edited a film out of the material in which the results of her participatory observation (usually with a Super-8 camera, sometimes only with a tape recorder) are ordered according to different categories – visual and technical as well as “anthropological” motifs play a role. Off screen the filmmaker herself speaks the commentary about her ordering of cultural things, which she proves are simply "constructed" – a monk beats a drum, a river rushes by, the pictures and the sound come from two different areas. Phantom Foreign Vienna is a deconstruction of common “book illustrations of different peoples.” The focus of attention is not occupied by the characteristic gesture, the typical costume or the distinctive music (the proof of the essence of a group) but the multifarious forms of transition and montage. Representation becomes an open process, foreign Vienna remains, despite its nearness, a phantom.

Text: Bert Rebhandl
Translation: Tim Sharp

Concept & Realisation

Lisl Ponger


Hakan Gürses, Viennasi MC

Sound Design

Dietmar Schiepek


Gabriele Kranzlbinder, Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu



Supported by

ORF, Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Innovative Film Austria, City of Vienna Culture



Awards & Nominations

Golden Gate New Vision Award, San Francisco International Film Filmfestival 2005


Dissolvenze Film Festival Gradisca Sonderprogramm "Amour Fou Pour Vous" 2005
San Francisco 2005, San Francisco International Film Filmfestival, Golden Gate Awards
Paris 2005 - 27th International Film Festival Cinéma du Réel, Spezialprogramm "Détour"
Rotterdam 2004 - 33rd International Film Festival
Diagonale 2004 (orig.) - Festival des österreichischen Films
Marseille 2004 - Festival International du Documentaire
Melbourne 2004 - 53rd International Film Festival
Neubrandenburg 2004 - dokumentART
Montréal 2004 - Festival International Nouveau Cinéma Nouveaux Médias