It's just a brief, miniscule happiness

As a child in the early 1930s, Josef had already discovered his vocation – to be a photographer – and met the love of his life – Ragusa. But the war carries him away and turns him and his camera into witnesses of unimaginable violence. 30 years later, sensations of guilt and longing bring him back to his village, where almost everything has remained the same. Peter Keglevic has chosen a historical context for his film ALL WILL BE REVEALED in order to explore persistently recurring political mechanisms and reflect on a decidedly up-to-date approach to the truth.

August Schmölzer, the actor who plays the Chief of Police in the film, has written a story about a returnee. His novel, The Gravedigger in the Boxwood, provided motifs for your film ALL WILL BE REVEALED. Which themes from this literary source formed the basis for the screenplay?
The two main themes in the novel – love and guilt – are also present in the film. I found August's novel an incredibly precise and poetic work, written with compassion and care. It wasn’t so easy to construct a continuous narrative from the novel, where a wide range of thoughts are combined, so the script operates on three levels: the theme of the returnee, the flashback to the love story between Josef and Ragusa, and the hidden element of this story: guilt and a guilty conscience.
The main character, Josef, returns to his village after many years because he wants to reassure himself that the only woman he has ever loved, the girl he met as a child, is still there. When he discovers that she still lives in this village, this first love is relived as a deeply human experience. First love is so wonderful because it is the most innocent and least calculating, shaped only by feelings of affection and devotion. An irreplaceable feeling, which is why the longing for it is so strong.
The political and historical context is also important in ALL WILL BE REVEALED: the location of the events could be in Italy, Slovenia/Croatia or Austria, and the period can be roughly ascertained as some time before and after the Second World War. Why did you deliberately not specify the setting?
he time can be identified with some precision. The main events take place around 1936, and the protagonist returns around 1964/66. We gave a lot of thought to the question of the exact location. It seemed to us that it would be too easy for us to say: all right, we’re talking about that country Austria, where there’s always a right-wing tendency politically, and the horizon is lined with high mountains. No, it's about everyone. It's about the east in Germany as well as about Donald Trump supporters. We didn't want the audience of ALL WILL BE REVEALED to think that’s how it is in Austria. We wanted the narrative to apply to everyone.
The film begins with a scene in a darkroom, where the yearning develops in Josef (as a child) to become a photographer. It is also a symbolic scene where things are gradually brought to light. Is that the basic theme of the film? The making of images per se as a testimony and commentary on historical events and, above all, the results of keeping the crimes of history as invisible as possible.
I have the young Josef take snapshots with a roll of film in the camera; he develops the film, and a photo emerges. I’d have liked to address even more directly the issue of how difficult it is to present the truth. To get the truth, it's not enough to drop the photo paper into the developing tray, and then you have it. Results come to light that have nothing to do with a 1:1 reproduction of reality; something is added. As with the truth. There are often things you didn't expect. Essentially, the film conveys the idea that it takes patience to carry on developing until an image, or the truth, appears.
What thoughts do you associate with the main character’s profession? Is he a character trying to create an image of reality? Is Josef also someone who has traveled the world and seen the "other" as well?
These thoughts certainly played a role, too. The focus for us was the terrible comment made by the photographer at the end of the story – everything I photograph dies. This issue was in the back of my mind during the research phase. Wim Wenders made a wonderful film about the Brazilian photographer Sebastiāo Salgado. We’re talking about people who are on the verge of extinction. You can try to capture them on film, but then the bulldozer will come and tear away their livelihood. This is the depressing realization we experience as human beings, or as photographers hoping to save or preserve something: in fact, we are killing everything all the time. Josef expresses this in a quite extreme way at the end of the film. When he’s a boy, taking his first pictures with the Leica that was a gift, he thinks he’s a great photographer. Later, his work as a war photographer may save his life, but the first assignment he has to complete involves photographing a shooting. This experience haunts Josef for the rest of his life. Josef has arrived at a moment in life when he doesn’t know what will happen next. He wants to strip away previous experiences like a skin that doesn’t fit anymore.
You have invented the character of Michael for these feelings of guilt that were covered up.
In writing the script, we were faced with the question: how do you show someone’s conscience expressing itself? It could also have been an off-screen voice. We invented a boy named Michael, who was killed in the shooting: when Josef comes back to the village, the boy constantly reappears in his presence, as a live character, and naturally Josef wants to get rid of him. Josef's story represents the struggle not to admit feelings of guilt.
The love story between Josef and Ragusa also seems to be the only force of resistance to a system that is concerned solely with maintaining power.
This rediscovered affection is far stronger than the mass of masculinity, scorn, injustice, calculation and selfishness unleashed against it. ALL WILL BE REVEALED shows in historical guise how brazenly these mechanisms, which Donald Trump in particular has made visible, have also become widely acceptable in Europe. I experience it in the east of Germany, and it probably happens everywhere; people simply lie through their teeth. A lie is passed off as the truth. In the film, the mayor is a despicable child murderer, but he doesn’t face any consequences. I wanted to create the feeling that the way this happened was so unspectacular, banal and relaxed, without even the effort to be conspiratorial. Everyone cuddles up and goes along with the game. For me, that’s the social framework for these intolerable machinations that have such huge effects.
The outlook isn’t very optimistic: the child murders won’t be solved for the villagers, and instead a scapegoat will have to die. You then project the people who call the shots in the village and share the sinecures into the present, where they are clutching mobile phones and maintain their men's club without having aged. Is nothing changing for the better?
That's an important point. They’re not the same, but they remain the same characters, who continue with minor variations a system that I sketch with the mayor, the press, the police and the priest.  In the end, things do become visible, but they aren’t necessarily beautiful things. Unfortunately, it’s the ugly that becomes visible. But as in the developing tray, where you first have a neutral white surface which appears innocent, after 15 or 20 seconds a truth emerges that is sometimes grainy and fuzzy.  But it does come out. The film does something similar. Even though Josef dies because his heart isn’t in the right place, something positive has been created between him and Ragusa. It’s only a brief, miniscule happiness balanced against everything that’s much bigger and weightier.
Do you draw a parallel to the present when you narrate an epoch that is now several decades ago?
I don't know how to answer that. There is a theory that humankind is essentially good. To have the good in you, to live it and practice it, is extremely difficult. I have the terrible feeling that humans aren’t here to be good. It’s not simply because they’re scared that people set fire to a home for refugees. It’s quite a pessimistic thought, but I can't help getting that impression when I look around. A love story embedded in a society that functions strangely; that's what I wanted to focus on. It has become socially acceptable to be right-wing. The idea behind this film was to depict that, and the music chosen for the orchestra rehearsals is Liszt's Prelude, which is regarded as innocent by some and was abused by others; it was used as the signature tune for Nazi newsreels.
Interview: Karin Schiefer
October 2023
Translation: Charles Osborne

To get the truth, it's not enough to drop the photo paper into the developing tray, and then you have it. Results come to light that have nothing to do with a 1:1 reproduction of reality; something is added. There are often things you didn't expect.