Just after the Second World War, 5,000 young children were sent from Austria to stay with host families in Portugal, where they could recover from the violence of war. They were often welcomed in by well-to-do families with domestic staff living in sunny villas, and for most of the children this was a holiday in paradise. The contrast with their living conditions at home, and the huge difference between the lives of rich and poor in Portugal in this period, made a deep impression on the young Austrians.
Filmmakers Susana de Sousa Dias and Ansgar Schaefer assembled a huge quantity of images from this time, in countless photo albums and archives. Carefully composed sound effects enhance the immersive atmosphere of this little-known story, while off-screen the former “guest children” recall this extraordinary, sometimes deliriously happy period that was also confusing for all concerned—hosts and guests alike. After about ten months, they were shipped back to Austria—with labels hanging from their necks like postal packages.
Nominated for the Beeld en Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award