Synopsis

Our economic and social system is increasingly being called into question by crisis-like developments and there is no answer in sight. The politically and economically powerful have for the most part been educated at the best schools and universities. Their perplexity is clearly felt and a long-term perspective has been replaced by short-winded actionism.

It is now becoming frighteningly clear that the limits of our thinking have been set too narrowly for us since childhood. Regardless of which school we attended, we move in patterns of thought that date back to the early days of industrialisation, when the aim was to train people to become well-functioning cogs of a production society based on the division of labour. Since then, the content of teaching has changed a lot and school is no longer a place of authoritarian drills. But the fixation on standardized standards dominates teaching more than ever.

Recently, a rough wind has been blowing at the schools. “Performance” as a fetish of competitive society has become the unrelenting measure of all things worldwide. But the one-sided focus on technocratic learning goals and the faultless reproduction of isolated knowledge content is causing precisely that playful creativity to wither away that could help us to look for new solutions without fear of failure.

  • Runtime: 113 min
  • Project Title: Alphabet - Angst oder Liebe
  • Category: Retrospektive Erwin Wagenhofer
  • Project type: Documentary
  • Genres: Education
  • Completion Date: 11 October 2013
  • Country of Origin: Austria
  • Country of Filming: Austria, China, France, Germany
  • Language: German, Chinese, English, French
  • Aspect Ratio: 1 : 1,85
  • Film Color: Color
Erwin Wagenhofer

Director Biography - Erwin Wagenhofer

Erwin Wagenhofer, filmmaker, lives and works in Vienna and Sardinia. Lecturer at various colleges / universities (University of Applied Arts Vienna, Danube University Krems, HSG St. Gallen).

2019 But Beautiful 

2013 Alphabet 

2011 Black Brown White 

2008 Let’s Make Money 

2005 We Feed the World

Director Statement

After two films – about how to deal with food (We feed the World) and money (Let’s make Money) – I asked myself the question, why do such undesirable developments and distortions occur at all?

Why do cultures and societies that see themselves as highly developed get caught in the maelstrom of enormous crises?
Why are we so unhappy although we seem to have everything?
Why do we, or many of us, live in constant fear/fear of existence, even though our economies have produced an incredible wealth?
Why does the distribution of this wealth work so badly?
Why do we prefer the system of the closed fear society to an open, free society?
Why do we live in a commercial society and not in an activity society?

I would like to try to find a possible answer to all these questions with this film project, and this answer – experts and thinkers, scientists and laypeople all agree on this – is that it is a question of how we are prepared for this life, how we are educated, socialized and ultimately educated, in other words, what “alphabet” we are put on, with which we then set off equipped for and into the world.

 So the idea for this film was not to compare educational systems with each other or even to evaluate them, but rather to invite people on a journey whose goal is to get moving, to take the first steps themselves, starting from a state that is no longer suitable. Life means movement. Democracy means as many as possible. Taking responsibility for the consequences of our actions means us all. It was a matter of sweeping our own doorstep. For one thing is clear, our Western model of a so-called modern, progressive society has, on the one hand, come to a standstill and reached its limits and, on the other hand, is being sold as a patent remedy without any alternatives. But it is neither honourable nor responsible to trumpet out into the world something that has long since passed away as the only solution. For the new is not the continuation of the old, as history teaches us.