Review: 3 Daily Purchases*(2023)

Innovative Cinema
Short Film Competition


If we bought only three small things from a local store each day it would make a huge difference for the local business owners, and ourselves alike. Since the turn of the century we’ve been observing the slow death of specialized stores. We have lost carpenters, shoemakers, all kinds of artisans and even specialized, fantastic bookstores swallowed by shopping malls offering products at the cost of good service. It became easier to buy a new pair of shoes than having the favourite footwear mended. Shopping malls’ book store assistants struggle to give recommendations based on inquiries to the extent that sometimes it feels easier to ask them where’s the best coffee in the area than to talk about the latest book releases.

In 3 DAILY PURCHASES – How I tried to save the little shop in our community building by galvanising my neighbours and failed, Gabriele Mathes continues with the tradition of researching her own environment within a larger socio-political context. Her ‘project’ is a small Delicatessen in her municipal housing block in Vienna’s 14th district, owned and operated by a woman of immigrant background lovingly called Fify by the residents. Delicatessen – just like the artisan shops, has become a rarity in Austrian capital, due to higher prices than those in supermarkets with their own ‘Feinkost’ products.

Armed with determination to help the store survive (although there is no solid ground to believe that the ship is sinking), Mathes is knocking on doors and talking to her neighbours on the street, trying to motivate them to commit to buying three things at the Delicatessen each day. Enthusiastic at first, they show huge interest in the project but decide against signing the ‘contractual committment’. They praise the shop and its range of products and at the same time admit that they only buy things unavailable in the supermarket. A vidid discussion about the neccessity of such store ensues, with each of Mathes’ conversation partners firmly standing behind it.

3 DAILY PURCHASES* is a study of a close-knit community attached to their housing block, friendly, chatty and passionate about any topic on the menu. In a sense, this is also a love declaration to “Gemeindebau”, a Viennese housing phenomena that bursts with life and diversity. Mathes creates an interesting dynamic that starts with a hectic fight for a cause, and that gradually calms down when the realisation that everything is just fine kicks in. “No one is obliged to shop here” – Fify says, both touched and embarassed by the paper she is presented with, drafted by Mathes herself. This final verdict: everything goes well, uttered by each of the people appearing in this hopeful, warm-hearted documentary leads us to the final scene in which everyone goes home to the sound of chirping birds.

The film celebrated its worl premiere at the last year’s edition of Vienna Shorts, and was screened in Innovative Cinema Section of Diagonale’24 where we cought up with it.


Original Title: 3 SACHEN KAUFEN – How I tried to save the little shop in our community building by galvanising my neighbours and failed
Country: Austria
Language: German
Year: 2023
Runtime: 15′
Director: Gabriele Mathes
Cinematography: Hermann Lewetz, Simone Hart
Editing: Hermann Lewetz
Sound: Tong Zhang
Colour Correction: Jimmi Kurt Hennrich
Production: Gabriele Mathes, Hermann Lewetz
Supported by: Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlicher Dienst und Sport / Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport