A Prima Vista

DCP, 91 minutes, 4:3, colour & b/w, stereo

Film for meditation

This film shot by Michael Pilz between 1964 and 2005 is a meditative documentary in which personal images can be read as the director's way to liberation in the spirit of Eastern philosophy. It is conceived as an inner pastiche which permits the message to be immediate and authentic by mosaic-like blending of motifs and time planes where it seems that the film is the only fixed point in the world because, unlike its elusive nature, it has a clear order.

Petr Kubica, International Documentary Film Festival Jihlava, Czech Republik, October 2008, catalogue

(…) and now for the good news, the films. The best one I saw was A Prima Vista, a highly personal essay in which Michael Pilz has put together old material he produced since the sixties, thus creating a home movie of great beauty and universal validity. (…)

Michael Omasta, „Neues von der Diagonale“, Falter/Vienna, No. 15/08, April, 2008
(on the presentation of „A Prima Vista“ at the Festival of Austrian Films in Graz, Austria, April 1–6, 2008)

A Prima Vista is a cinematographic journey by the poetic documentary maker Pilz in which pieces from his earlier work and home movies come together in a spontaneous composition. Eastern and western wisdom serve to guide the way.

37th International Film Festival Rotterdam, January, 2008

Taking that leap beyond the horizon should not be seen as an imposition but as creating opportunities and confidence. Looking at films is about opening eyes, ears, and minds, about allowing ourselves to be irritated by what we erroneously feel to be out of this world. The point is not to come up with new and interesting films but to enter a mindset that is permanently receptive to the worlds of vision, hearing, and the heart.

For many years now, I have wanted to go back to some early materials I keep in my archive. I started out with a 1969 black and white self-portrait shot on Single 8mm film (12/02/43) and then turned to P.R.A.T.E.R. from 1964, my first „real“ work on film (16mm black and white). I looked into 16mm color footage I had brought home from Lignano, Italy, after vacationing there with my wife and our children in 1987 and went through a 16mm color film from a summer weekend my family and I spent in the countryside in 1986. That the same year, I had used 16mm black and white film to capture scenes in and around a train (I also used some of the film negatives).

1996 saw me experimenting with my Bolex camera and 16mm color film during a meeting with artists and friends out in the country (that year, I also produced the video Da Capo Al Fine – What I Remember And Not What I See/1999). I guess it must have been in May of 2005 that I recorded Super 8mm footage of celebrations outside Vienna's pagoda. Strangely enough, I have not kept any records on when this event took place. And last but not least, in the spring of 1995, I brought my Bolex along to our first student's symposium in the mountains of Salzburg, which resulted, among others, in silent 16mm color film portraits.

With the exception of P.R.A.T.E.R. all sequences had been edited during shooting inside the camera. I only took out a number of individual shots. As there is no original soundtrack, I have used different pieces of music and added a few words by John Cage, Sathya Sai Baba, and Sree Kumar, a Yoga teacher from Kerala, India.

Looking back at the weeks I worked on my montage of these images and sounds, it seems this film materialized without any special efforts. It could not have taken on another form: Images and sounds appeared to fit together in a natural way. Somehow, the film solidified of its own accord while my sense of time and self dissolved.

Michael Pilz, Vienna, January, 2008

Images from four decades, collected and strung together inside a filmmaker's camera. The result is a journey into his life story, a narrative about encounters with others and his own self. Relatives, friends, a seaside vacation, Vienna's Prater. This material, which he initially filmed out of curiosity and, in the best sense, without intent, Michael Pilz has now assembled into a cinematic essay on the innocence of looking – and successfully so.

okto TV, Vienna, April 18/25, 2010

Original title A Prima Vista
English title At First Sight
Produced by Michael Pilz
Shooting time between 1964 and 2005
Shooting locations Vienna, Salzburg Alps, Lignano Italy, Lower Austria
Cinematography by Michael Pilz
Edited by Michael Pilz
Featuring Johannes Pilz, Rosemarie Pilz, Beate Pilz, Michael Pilz, Angelos Dimitriadis, Josef Schützenhöfer, Dieter Manhardt, Andreas Ortag, Walpurga Ortag, Andrea Gessert, Mathilde Kohl, Bernd Hartung, Jean Christopher Burger, Andreas Fröba, Vanessa van Houten, Margarethe Fuchs, Gabriele Hochleitner, Regina Höllbacher and many others
Spoken words by Sree Kumar (Changanacherry, Kerala/India), John Cage, Sathya Sai Baba
Solo piano by Michael Pilz
Music by W. A. Mozart, Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto, Buddha Machine/Zhang Jian and Christiaan Virant, Missa Johnouchi, Carlos Alessio, Steve Lavers, Caccini Ave Maria performed by Inessa Galante, Campion Records RRCD 1335, published by Wilson Editions, with kind permission of Campion Records, and anonymous
Original language English
Sound mix by Michael Pilz
No subtitles

Austria 2008

Financial support innovative film austria, federal arts, bm:uk

First public screening 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam, January 2008, Kings and Aces

Festivals, specials Rotterdam (NL), Graz (AT), Manila (Philippines), Jihlava (CZ), Vienna, Künstlerhaus (A), Vienna, Austrian Filmmuseum, retrospective Michael Pilz, Bellaria anteprimadoc (I), 35th Summer Film School Uherské Hradiště (CZ), Okto-TV, Vienna (AT)

Michael Pilz Film
A-1180 Vienna/Austria
Teschnergasse 37
Phone +43.699.11336581