A baby floats through the uterus, dancing in the amniotic fluid to the accompaniment of a Danube waltz. Then the amniotic sac bursts, the baby falls into an abyss, it hears its mother moaning in agony and is pushed out into the light and into life. When the midwife approaches with a pair of scissors, the infant becomes afraid of being castrated. But she only cuts the umbilical cord. And then he is placed on his mother’s breast, which he blissfully begins to suckle.
This is how the Austrian animated film “Welcome to Siegheilkirchen” begins, which is about the youth of the cartoonist Manfred Deix. The film, directed by regional comedy specialist Marcus H. Rosenmüller and animator Santiago López Jover, is set in 1967 in a small town in Lower Austria populated by spherical, pot-bellied, and sausage-faced Deix characters: old Nazis who, after a few glasses of beer, still have their right arm raise the Hitler salute, a mayor who invokes family values in his speeches and stalks young women, and the bigoted pastor who hands out slaps in the face in school lessons.
The youthful hero, just called the snotty boy by everyone, is unmistakably Deix’s alter ego. Just like the cartoonist, he grows up in a tavern, interested in nothing but art and produces “nude drawings” of his busty neighbor, which are circulated by two classmates and cause a scandal.
They are a “disgusting guide to self-abuse”, the mayor’s wife complains, which leads to the “brain softening of our youth”. Only his uncle Neidhardt, a painter with an academy degree, recognizes the boy’s talent. However, like almost all notables, he has a brown past. The imperial eagle from Greater Germany times, which he left there, can still be seen on the facade of the town hall.
The old and the new right-wing radicalism were among the main themes of Deix’s crude and bitterly angry pictures. He put Austrian President Kurt Waldheim on a horse wearing an SA uniform and portrayed populist Jörg Haider as a fighting dog. The animator had approved the film’s screenplay before he died in 2016. “Welcome to Siegheilkirchen” tells a coming-of-age story in the form of pranks by rascals, not too much has remained of the toxicity of Deix’s caricatures.
Because the future cannot be stopped even in the mustiest dump. In the newly opened espresso bar there is a jukebox playing English-language pop. Unlike the inn “Zur Grüne Rebe”, which is run by the one-armed father of the snotty boy, the Roma who have parked their caravans on the outskirts of town are also served there.
The boy falls in love with the Roma girl Mariolina, and when he learns that two former SS men are planning an attack on their camp, he does everything to prevent it. During his first alcohol intoxication, the snotty boy takes off from the ground and flies up to the starry night sky. Nothing keeps him in the small town that wafts psychedelic beneath him.