Vienna by night. A seemingly timeless bar, where young Bulgarian Roma offer their services, is our starting point and topographic centre. Frail boys by day, kings by night. They have come to Vienna in search of freedom and easy money. They sell their bodies as if it were all they had. The only reassuring feeling that they have is that of belonging to a group, that which sometimes consoles them, and other times, might warm them up. But the nights are long and unpredictable. Chiha makes a film with these marginalized characters, creating a space in which they take center stage, and are able to stage themselves, for the camera, their own lives and living conditions. A tender and empathetic hymn to the terrible poetry of life and of survival as well as an ode to solidarity.
A word from Tënk
By the shores of the Danube, in the shadow of container ships and suspension bridges, the Austrian filmmaker Patric Chiha immerses himself in the Viennese night in order to earn the trust of the young Bulgarian Roma who came there to offer their sex work services in the bars of the imperial city at night.
A film depicting a group, almost a pack. Chiha gradually moves away from a naturalistic representation of reality in order to build a magnetic portrait of a disobedient and (hyper) conscious masculinity.
If faced with the camera, the film’s subjects replay with a disarming ease the artifice of seduction but also the daily exploitation of their flesh. By threading together immigration stories and homoerotic imagery, the filmmaker reveals a strange deception hidden beneath the uprooting of the trade in bodies.
As such, the evident pleasure that the film’s various personalities experience in putting themselves centre stage and revealing themselves through “the game”, allows the film to portray–as if breaking through into an inaccessible world–a more free and complex view of their precarious condition. It is in these suspended moments that the film manages, somewhere between grace and disorientation, to capture and to transmit a feeling of absolute reality.