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Here is a documentary about the resurgent interest in retro culture that comes across like a warm fuzzy blanket of nostalgia for pre-Covid days. The central figure is “Doc” Florian Kaps, who the film presents as Vienna’s answer to Steve Jobs, a social visionary untroubled by such details as earning a living or indeed running a functioning business. Kaps’ speciality is what he calls “analogue”: physical hardware such as manual switchboards, jukeboxes, printing presses, and the like, made obsolete by the rise of laptops and smartphones.
At the start of the film, Kaps’ attention is caught by the failing Polaroid camera, and – seemingly on a whim – he agrees to take over the company’s last factory, in the Netherlands. (We are not told much about his finances, other than the occasional arrival of tech investor types who pop up whenever needed.) It soon becomes clear that Kaps’ visionary utterances (“What does Facebook smell like?”) are no match for a solid business plan, and after a few years of trying fruitlessly to replicate Polaroid’s instant film, Kaps is ejected from his own company when a former intern becomes CEO after bringing in his own investor father.
Kaps is not daunted after this cautionary experience, and applies his roving mind to, first, a cafe/gallery called Supersense, and later to hotel keeping; his tech contacts come in handy for the latter as he appears to get backing from Facebook’s Analog Research Lab to restart operations at a giant mothballed Overlook-type place called Sudbahnhotel. It’s never clear exactly what roles Kaps has in any of these activities, or how he earns money, but he is genial company and makes a persuasive case for life beyond the digital realm: making an astute observation that, where once analogue businesses tried to convert to digital, digital companies are now getting interested in the real world.
Of course, this was all filmed pre-Covid, during which the power of digital technology has asserted itself like never before. It’s possible that Kaps’ enthusiasms may have foundered by the time the pandemic recedes.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: An Impossible Project review – life after digital in forward-looking retro doc | Film