CONSPECTUS
FIRST TIME [THE TIME FOR ALL BUT SUNSET – VIOLET]
2021, 2K DCP, 4K, 50', NO DIALOG, 5.1, COLOR, 1,85:1

We listen to music and are on the way. In doing so, we see things and the world differently than before. So that things don't always go on like this, but may become better:
Two boys meet on a train ride. Something is born – not much and yet everything.
Enjoy a Golden Hour Carousel Ride.

A boy is sitting at the window of the Hamburg U3 circle line subway. He looks into the setting sun with closed eyes, orange-red glowing through both eyelids. Passengers go and come – one sits down. The two sit silently across from each other, neither of them getting off the train.
The circle line runs once around the city. Station after station. The light is alternating outside and inside. Passengers and protagonists are amid noise and music. Glances, silence, a KitKat is broken, a Coke is drunk. Outside: Sunset&Nightfall are interrupted again and again by tunnels, platforms, posters&facades. The train passes the boarding stop again. The timeline of love could be a circle.
Enjoy a Golden Hour Carousel Ride. A Common Sensations Music Movie.

„And baby when I met you, every feeling I had was new,
I don‘t think there are words to describe the sensations, oh no no no“

(Coca Cola Commercial 1988, Robin Beck - First Time)

„FIRST TIME“ is a Cross Documantary Experimental Concept Fiction made for Cinema, the prequel to „FINAL STAGE“ and/or Episode „VIOLET“ of „ENDJOY [The Time For All But Sunset – VBGYOR]“.

/ (1 of 7)
LAURELS

„An audacious and humorous comment against the mainstream cinema and its standardized narratives, reminiscent of some of Chantal Ackerman and Straub-Huillet’s formally rigorous works. And at the same time a refreshing invitation to turn back our gaze to the world around us and discover anew the cinematic treasures hidden under the surface of our uneventful everyday life. For the courage and the freedom to take us into a risky and thought-provoking journey.”
Special Mention, Locarno Film Festival (Leopardi di Domani)
Jury consisting of filmmaker and artist Kamal Aljafari, producer Marie-Pierre Macia, and filmmaker, artist, curator, and Golden Bear winner Adina Pintilie

„For FIRST TIME, Nicolaas Schmidt stretches an enraptured and everyday tipping moment into infinity. [...]
Schmidt's work floats in ambiguities: it celebrates the escapist moment in everyday life and critiques its capitalist incorporation in a way that is at once of parody and sensual participation.“

German Short Film Award 2021 (Special Prize)
Jury: Jon Frickey, Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck, Florian Fischer, Maike Mia-Höhne, Gunter Deller

„A completely surprising experience, linked to the perception of a real moment of life, marked by the flow of time, exceptional music and a playful use of a Coca Cola commercial. It is incredible how, with only one fixed shot, this film is able to take root in the mind of the viewer, asking endless questions and arousing so many sensations.“
Best Med-Lenght Documentary, Festival dei Popoli
Jury: Kieron Corless, Anita Piotrowska, Luciano Barisone

„A film with a rigorous and playful form that creates tension and mystery with minimal means. It draws the viewer’s attention to small details and gestures, opening a space for reflection on the experience of temporality, on the codes of the story, on language and on the history of cinema.“
Best Feature, Sicilia Queer New Visions Filmfest
(Intl. New Visions Jury: Dennis Lim, Lluís Miñarro, Judith Lou Lévy, Eduardo Williams, Tuixén Benet)

„The film represents the meeting on the subway between two teenagers through a language without words, made up only of songs, looks and sharing a common space. A middle ground, the puberty, before the definition of a precise sexuality identity. It’s an enigmatic and suspended tale, which generates in the audience the same pre-erotic tension that envelops the characters. A story that opens a situation without closing, that asks a question without answer, addressed to the young protagonists and to us. It does with a courageous and experimental style that brings film back to its primary form, made of music and imperceptible but full of meaning gestures. ‚First Time‘ by Nicolaas Schmidt shows that cinema is not just dialogue, it’s mostly the art of the image“.
Special Mention, Sicilia Queer New Visions Filmfest (National Union of Italian Film Critics)
SNCCI Jury: Emanuele Di Nicola, Gaia Simionato

„We've always liked art more than we like categories.“
(David Colagiovanni, AIFVF about selecting First Time for feature section)
Best Narrative Feature, Athens Intl. Film and Video Festival
PRESS REVIEWS

"Schmidt zelebriert die radikale kinematografische Reduktion förmlich, First Time ist alles andere als konformistischer Kitsch:"
Eine Erzählung gegen klassische Narrative, Jens Balkenborg für Lerchenfeld (german, PDF 300kb)

„First Time [The Time for All but Sunset – VIOLET] verbindet Bilder auf eine ganz einfache, einleuchtende Weise miteinander, so dass sich aus ihrer Summe Fragen ergeben.“
Critic.de (german), Frédéric Jaeger

„Ein Exkurs über das Tabu eines überbordenden Ästhetizismus, den die Kunst gern unter Kitschverdacht stellt. Und doch fühlt man sich an eine Zeit erinnert, als man noch von Experimentalfilm sprach, aber damit Abenteuerlust verband und Reisen ins Unbekannte.“
Frankfurter Rundschau (german), Daniel Kothenschulte

„Den Zugriff auf Zeit und Ort mit jeder Minute mehr zu verlieren – auch das eine Art, den Kopf verdreht zu bekommen. Und vielleicht die schönste des Festivals.“
Spiegel Online (german), Hannah Pilarczyk

„A uniquely crafted film work done with intelligence and heart.“
ubiquarian.net (english), Marina D. Richter

„The film is proof that if you have some form of tension at the heart of a movie, you can easily stretch conventional cinematic patience. […] FIRST TIME provides an experience both emotionally and intellectually stimulating (as well as being rather funny).“
dmovies.org (english), Redmond Bacon

„Nicolaas Schmidt Crafts a Mesmerising and Minimalist Work of Sly Romance in Arthouse Drama ‘FIRST TIME’.“
Redmond Bacon, directorsnotes.com (english)

„The very best film of this edition of Locarno“
Le Polyester (français)

„In this minimal love story, the look out the window on the metropolis, the soundtrack of the film and two lonely teenagers are condensed into a social critique.“
Paeseroma (italiano), Marcello Strano

„Within the film, the filmmaker cleverly and elegantly plays and mixes the musical element with a rather fashion photographic and scenographic aesthetic, all to go and tell a minimal and intimate story.“
L’Occhio Del Cineasta (italiano)

„[...] Once the focus is on the potential lovers, a cacophony of voices and the twilight hues coming through the window enrapture us.“
Los Angeles Times

„Romance is front and center in Nicolaas Schmidt’s FIRST TIME, even if it’s not obvious. [...] FIRST TIME is a film made up of possibilities, and by laying them all out so plainly it makes a strong case for acting upon one’s own desire rather than letting the moment pass.“
C.J. P., thefilmstage.com/the-best-undistributed-films-of-2021

„What if Before Sunrise, but Tsai-Ming Liang? Almost nothing ‚happens‘ in this film about a chance encounter between two strangers on a subway train, yet everything changes by the end of the journey. With radical minimalism Schmidt observes the hectic rush of city life and captures the tender, quietly monumental start of a romance. Despite the complete, unchanging passivity of perspective there’s true musicality to the mise-en-scène that builds momentum and sings what’s left unsaid. The work of an original.“
Zhuo-Ning Su’s Top 10 Films of 2021



True Colors
By Lawrence Garcia, Reverseshot Feature

First Time [The Time for All but Sunset (Violet)] plays at Museum of the Moving Image as part of First Look 2022 on Sunday, March 20.
Despite running just 50 minutes, Nicolaas Schmidt’s First Time [The Time for All but Sunset (Violet)] makes room for a pre-show segment: a 1988 Coca-Cola ad featuring couples of all ages (read: heterosexual ones) finding love to Robin Beck’s power ballad “First Time.” Following this, the film presents a series of establishing shots outside a Hamburg train station, then a strobing screen of reds and oranges over which one might expect title cards. The colors flicker irregularly for about two minutes until, in one of the most radiant transitions in recent cinema, we cut to a boy (Fynn Grossmann) leaning his head on a train window, the sunlight flashing onto his closed eyelids. The flicker-film passage is here revealed to be a point-of-view shot. What may have seemed a mere formalist trifle becomes a veritable window into the eyes of the mind.
By this point, most viewers will have suspended their expectations of a conventional narrative—no doubt the intended reaction. The film’s title signals a structuring principle, with each segment offering variations on a scene-setting trope; so when Schmidt switches to a proscenium shot of the train compartment, the window centered in the frame, we prepare to settle in for the ride. The immediate setting recalls not just the stationary panorama rides of the late 19th century (glimpsed for instance in Max Ophüls’s 1948 Letter from an Unknown Woman) but also the phantom journeys and travel films of the early cinema, once popular forms that eventually fell outside the pale of institutionalized modes of representation. At one of the stations, another boy (Aaron Hilmer) gets on and sits across from Grossmann. But for now, the scenic pleasure of the journey is all.
As the film goes on, a cut becomes less and less likely—and sure enough the shot stretches out to encompass almost the entire runtime. It is no small matter, however, that First Time arrives nearly a century after cinematographer Karl Freund unchained the film camera in F. W. Murnau’s The Last Laugh (1924), for Schmidt’s locked-down frame is a choice in the way that it wasn’t previously. Accordingly, the question of what exactly he is trying to show us—the question of what is or is not of significance at any given moment—becomes an active and persistent issue. Apart from the opening TV spot, the rolling journey offers glimpses of a COVID-era Coke ad (“I’ll keep social distance from bad energy”) and an H&M poster (#HMFallInLove), both of which remind us of how advertisements work as an ironic game, reinterpreting reality to fit their own sometimes illegible ends. In a similar way—though naturally with rather different aims— First Time plays on the ambiguity of what we are meant to even see and focus on, expanding the film’s spatial journey into a realm of imaginative possibility.
Grossmann and Hilmer together suggest the prospect of a chance romance—notably queer, in contrast to the opening Coca-Cola ad—but as the film goes on, and neither of them speak to each other, the assumed connection may well be an imaginary one. Schmidt doesn’t tip his hand in this regard. Subtitled “A Common Sensations Music Movie,” First Time includes a number of music tracks that establish atone of keening melancholy, suggesting that we are indeed witnessing a repressed romantic encounter. But when, in a marvelous sight gag, Grossmann and Hilmer each drink a bottle of Coke about five minutes apart (the latter to a train busker singing a cover of “First Time”), that previous reading practically collapses into self-conscious irony. As the sun sets outside, and the film’s color palette gradually shades into the violet end of the spectrum, we might wonder whether our romantic expectations are mere projections of the mind.
In its denial of explicit “meaning,” in its structural and textural integrity, First Time has an ambiguity characteristic of the various experimental traditions that Schmidt is extending. His film is not a lyrical work in the manner of Brakhage, but nonetheless represents a turn away from the continuous rhythms of daily life (a train commute, for instance) toward the more meditative, inward dimensions of experience. Likewise, though First Time does not much resemble the works first corralled under the term “structural film” (works by Michael Snow and Hollis Frampton, for example), it displays a similar conceptual rigor, its clear segmentation and wordless progression creating a characteristic, riddle-like fusion of sensation and mental reflection. True, as in the aforementioned ads, conglomerate branding may present something of this quality as well, an aspect that has not gone unrecognized by experimental filmmakers (Johann Lurf’s 2014 short Twelve Tales Told cuts up a dozen studio logos into a stuttering, spectacular symphony of anticipation and anti-climax). But very much unlike advertising, those works we value as art—experimental films among them—are aimed not at controlling or directing our desires, but at transforming them.
Near the end of First Time, Hilmer mumbles something to Grossmann—the only words spoken in the entire film—and finally exits the train, leaving the latter somewhat dazed, as if shaken out of a daydream. His confusion is ours as well, for doesn’t that train station convenience store look awfully familiar? And sure enough, if one goes and watches the film again, one will confirm what those familiar with the U3 Line of Hamburg’s subway network already know: that the train moves in a continuous ring. We have been going round in a circle—though of course, neither we nor Grossmann can possibly feel that we have simply returned to the same point. He makes a move to grab his bag and exit the train, an action that Schmidt punctuates with an abrupt cut and a frame of solid purple, uniting the film, title and all, into an ecstatic flash of color.
When we next see Grossmann, he is alone in the same compartment, night having fallen in the interim. In one last movement, the camera slowly pushes into the train window, finally giving us an unobstructed view of the outside. This would seem to take us back to those early train views—except that, roughly a century removed from them, we are perhaps more skeptical about any claims to present reality “as it is.” Indeed, experimental filmmakers such as Schmidt may be seen as demonstrating the very limits and contradictions of such claims. With their recourse to ambiguous unities of sound and sense, where all meaning is absorbed into a complex texture of image-sound relations, they show how there is something self-contradictory about the injunction to “film what you see.”
In Art and Illusion, E. H. Gombrich’s enduring study on the psychology of pictorial representation, he writes that “the true miracle of the language of art is not that it enables the artist to create the illusion of reality. It is that under the hands of a great master the image becomes translucent.” Whether or not one is prepared to declare Schmidt a master, his images have something of this translucence: they present a vision of the everyday imbued with all the colors of the mind, where every end is but a beginning, and where every sunset is seen as if for the first time.
CAST/ STAB

Aaron Hilmer (Ray)
2019: Bunte New Faces Award - Bester Nachwuchsdarsteller
2018: Günther Rohrbach Filmpreis - Preis des Saarländischen Rundfunks
2017: Das schönste Mädchen der Welt
2017: Final Stage [The Time For All But Sunset - BGYOR]
2016: Tatort - Amour Fou
2016: Einsamkeit und Sex und Mitleid

Fynn Grossmann (Pär)
2017: Final Stage [The Time For All But Sunset - BGYOR]

Szenario/Realisation/Bild/Ton/Licht/Farben/Montage: Nicolaas Schmidt
Kamera: Julia Lohmann, Nicolaas Schmidt
Dramaturgie/Produktionsleitung: Anne Döring
Regieassistenz/Aufnahmeleitung/Ausstattung/Ton: Ray Juster
Casting/Herstellungsleitung: Sarah Drath
Kostümbild: Ada Oehrlein
Maskenbild: Miriam Endrulat
Musik: Iason Roumkos, Eduard Tokuyev, Tim Slim
Sounddesign: Nicolaas Schmidt, Iason Roumkos
Audiomischung: Roland Musolff
Produktion: ETTG FILM, Doppelte Unendlichkeit
Anne Döring, Nicolaas Schmidt
Gefördert durch die Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein

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