Longing for the Coast

A TV-Documentation by Gernot Stadler

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Documentation, 52 min, 2016
Written and directed by
Gernot Stadler
Gernot Stadler

Almost a century ago, with the fall of the Habsburg Monarchy, Austria’s rule on the upper Adriatic came to an end. What remains is an extensive architectural heritage, magnificent administrative buildings and grand hotels, road and rail links that once connected Trieste or Gorizia with Vienna and Budapest, and memories of a time that is now regarded as quite positive. The documentary searches for traces in this geopolitically unique area, which is still characterized today by the mutual influence and impact of three cultures and languages over centuries. The former Austrian coastal land, originally from Gorizia/Nova Goriza, later administered from Trieste/Trieste/Trst, is a symbol of the sunken multi-ethnic empire. Nowhere, writes the Italian writer Hans Kitzmüller, had Germans, Slavs and Romans lived together like this for centuries. The film portrays people who, to a certain extent, carry this shared history within themselves, such as Countess Carolina Lantieri from Gorizia, whose city palace was home to Maria Theresia, Napoleon, Goethe or the last French kings.

The documentary accompanies Austrian author Christine Casapicola on her research on the coastal land, including the once Austrian salt refineries of Piran or the grape harvest in Cormons, the former Austrian border town. Every spring cherries were delivered from Cormons for the fruit markets in Vienna. Erika Auchentaller, granddaughter of the great Viennese Secessionist Josef Maria Auchentaller, takes you through the popular seaside resort of Grado, which her grandfather recorded in numerous paintings and which became one of the most fashionable seaside resorts in the monarchy.

Hans Kitzmüller, a great connoisseur of the history of Gorizia and the coastal region and at the same time a passionate sailor, shows us the picturesque island town of Mali Losinj, once called Lussin Grande, which was a permanent residence of many members of the Austrian Imperial House. The buildings from Austrian times still shape the image of this once popular spa resort in the monarchy. The film “Longing for the Coastal Land” is thus a colourful picture arc that takes the viewer on a (time) journey along the present-day Italian, Slovenian and Croatian coasts, which once attracted an illustrious noble and middle-class audience from all parts of the monarchy.