The Austrian Contemporary Witness Archive

Since 1995, Ruth Deutschmann, filmmaker and founder of the Austrian Contemporary Witness Archive, has been working on the realisation of her dream of “filling Austria’s written history with life”.
From the very beginning she has been supported in her ambitious project by cameraman Benjamin Epp and dramaturge, author and narrative researcher Ekkehard Schönwiese. The team has so far captured hundreds of hours of life memories on film. Among the special treasures are the shots of old Austrians born before 1900.
The association “Die Chronisten” was founded within the framework of the project “Österreichisches FilmTageBuch – Die Chronisten: ZeitzeugeInnen der Donaumonarchie erinnern sich”. Its aim is, among other things, “… to research and document the living conditions of the population of Austria and within the EU in political, economic, cultural and social terms. … The documentation covers the changes in living conditions in the past up to present and future developments.
Under the umbrella of the association “Die Chronisten”, Ruth Deutschmann collects, administers and publishes with the Austrian Contemporary Witness Archive the memoirs of her life which are recorded on video.


Of course, life storytelling is about capturing memories “so that it is not lost”. But this “holding on” has nothing to do with preserving or reconstructing. On the contrary. Life story telling is an act of letting go, an act of liberation, an act of passing on, of passing on, of sharing, which only fulfils its meaning with the share-take.

Benjamin Epp

… born in Vienna with a tendency to mountains and rugged rock faces, cameraman since 1980. From 1983 some years for the
ORF regional studio in Tyrol, then again in Vienna as a freelance film maker. Since 2000 own film production with
Focus on documentation, PR films and collaboration on exhibition projects. From about 2002 with own editing computer for more freedom in design. And always looking for ideas for new projects.

Ruth Deutschmann

Ekkehard Schönwiese

… Dr. born 1944 in Graz, grew up in Kufstein, studied in Vienna: theatre science, folklore, philosophy, dissertation: “Volksschauspiel im nördlichen Tirol”, from 1972-1989 dramaturge and actor, most recently at the Vereinigte Bühnen Graz, since 1990 “Landesspielberater” in Tyrol, author, especially of numerous plays, director, lecturer at the Institute for Ethnology at the University of Innsbruck (and Vienna), special fields: folk drama and narrative research. 2009 published: “Schluß mit dem Hofertheater” (Haymon)