De Facto

A man sits at a table in front of open brickwork, behind which is a forest. A relentlessly advancing barrage of words fills the empty room, which initially lacks any context. In a breathlessly rapid monologue, the man testifies to atrocities, gives an account of camp work, humiliation, degradation, torture, violence and rape, of broken people, lives without dignity, of survival and death. In the second scene a different man appears, and he too embodies a perpetrator. Over three acts, the two actors, in continuous uninterrupted shots, relate the reports of witnesses and perpetrators from situations of conflict, war and violence, without any historical, geographical or social contexts being named. What is spoken is based on statements made by perpetrators and survivors, and the court rulings and transcripts relating to various events in contemporary history. Detached from individuals and systems, as well as from compassion, admissions of guilt, defence or justification, the standpoints, roles and perspectives embodied by the actors merge into perpetrator archetypes, bringing out, in a concentrated accumulation of facts, the essence and extreme nature of the deeds and their perpetration: the discarding of reason, the free disinhibition of aggression, the escalation of brutality, the unleashing of violence and the way it takes on a momentum of their own. Within a minimalist setting and with an all-encompassing force of words, Selma Doborac translates the philosophical examination of perpetration into a cinematic-literary composition which is meticulously thought out, down to the smallest detail, and which remains as persistent in its duration, consistency and intransigence as a judge during a hearing. On the levels of content, form and language, De Facto performs processes, strategies and methods of dehumanisation: in masterful performances by Christoph Bach and Cornelius Obonya, the facts are recited just as mechanically as the acts described were carried out: without emotion and trimmed to time and efficiency. The cinematic translation of the role of language and the dramaturgical staging of posture, body, gestures and gaze result in a new form of documenting, archiving and transmitting testimony, which requires no images to be understood. Selma Doborac’s De Facto is a masterpiece about reason, morality, (in)human abysses and the essence of violence. (Martina Genetti, Diagonale - translation into English by Peter Waugh)

Director's Biography
Selma Doborac (*1982, Bosnia and Herzegovina) grew up in Linz and holds degrees from the University of Applied Arts Vienna and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where she studied with Harun Farocki in the Art and Film class. She lives in Vienna and works in the fields of essayist and feature documentary film, photography, and concept art. Her works have been shown at numerous festivals and in exhibitions around the globe.
Director's Filmography (Selection)
De Facto (2023, doc) - Those Shocking Shaking Days (2016, essay, doc; CE'16, CROSSING EUROPE Award - Local Artist 2016) - Hotel Alfa Romeo Uniform November Foxtrot Alfa Romeo Oscar Charlie Kilo India (2015, essay, doc short) - Es war ein Tag wie jeder andere im Frühling oder Sommer. (It was a day just like any other in spring or summer., 2012, essay, doc short; CE'14, CROSSING EUROPE Award - Local Artist 2014)
2023: CROSSING EUROPE Award – Local Artist
Local Artists 2023
Selma Doborac
Austria / Germany 2023
130 minutes
OV with English subtitles
Screenplay Selma Doborac
Cinematography Klemens Hufnagl
Editing Selma Doborac
Music Didi Kern, Philipp Quehenberger
With Christoph Bach, Cornelius Obonya
Producer(s) Selma Doborac
World Sales
Additional Credits
Ton/Sound Claus Benischke-Lang, Szenenbild/Set Design Selma Doborac (Objekte/Objects Heimo Zobernig, Franz West), Casting Ulrike Müller, Tonmischung/Sound Mixing Jochen Jezussek, Farben/Colour & Digitales Filmmastering/digital film mastering Andi Winter
World Premiere
Berlinale 2023