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KASSBACH - A PORTRAIT

Austria, 1979 (MIFF 1979)

Director: Peter Patzak

Kassbach is a grocer in Vienna. With four close friends sharing the same social background, he belongs to a right-wing organization known as 'Initiative', which stages small-scale demonstrations and confrontations with Catholic and left-wing groups. On the surface, this neo-Nazi organization is legal and respectable, and its fights with other groups are largely overlooked by the police. The members also work toward the reduction of foreign workers in the country, and for the introduction of castration of sexual offenders. Kassbach is obsessed with authority — he rules his family with an iron fist. His intolerance and brutality alienate both his wife and his son.

In his shop, Kassbach engages in corrupt practices, and to secure cheap labour, lie recruits an apprentice, Liesi, from a school for backward children. He seduces the girl, and as time passes, he becomes more and more brutal in his treatment of her.

The campaign of the 'Initiative' escalates into violence: a Yugoslav worker is knifed, and Kassbach shoots the editor of a leftish newspaper. And still, this dangerously innocent-looking citizen and his legal-seeming organization may manage to get away with these acts of violence and murder. Opposition comes from an unexpected quarter — when Kassbach is confronted by his son.

UNESCO Prize, CIDALC Prize, Berlin.

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