Norbert Pfaffenbichler, Austria, 2021, DCP, 65’, English subtitles

Double Bill: 2551.01 + A Messenger from the Shadows (Notes on Film 06 A/Monologue 01)

Screening followed by a talk with director Norbert Pfaffenbichler, moderated by Austrian film critic and curator Christoph Huber.


A monkey-faced man with a nose ring rescues an orphan from the batons of state authorities and together, they end up drifting around a disturbing subterranean world of filthy catacombs, populated by grotesque masked figures and gruesome dolls embodying the oppressed. The neo-silent film 2551.01 by Austrian experimentalist Norbert Pfaffenbichler is, no doubt, an homage to Chaplin’s The Kid, yet the stroboscopic flickering, heavy metal music, psychedelic colour distortions and episodic Gameboy tunes also make it a love child of punk revolt and Tod Browning’s Freaks.

“Along with the complex textures of silent films, Pfaffenbichler also uses elements of splatter and exploitation films and sitcoms – and an extremely eclectic soundtrack of music. In this way, this episodic drama leads us to the peripheries of punk and shock comedy, to territories that are practically non-existent in Austrian cinema. For that reason, with all luck, the Orgy of the Damned, which is announced at the end as Episode 2 of this wicked tale, will soon become a reality.”
– Stefan Grissemann