The MetallDetektor

An Austrian man, obsessed with the crash of B17 near his house during World War II, gathers together everyone affected by the crash for a reconciliation 75 years after the fact.

  • Brendan Patrick Hughes
  • Brendan Patrick Hughes
  • Emily Topper
    The First Step, Framing Britney Spears, Rebel Hearts, Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, The Departure, Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two
  • Clemens Thurn
    Austrian Unit Director
  • Katharina Stroh
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    32 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 15, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    40,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, German
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Brendan Patrick Hughes

Brendan Hughes is a director, screenwriter, professor and performance artist in Los Angeles. He has directed theatre, opera, narrative features and shorts, and documentary. He is currently working on a long-form documentary podcast about his parents love story during the anti-war movement, the pilot of which was accepted into the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. He released a comedy album in 2014. He enjoys collaborating with his wife, cinematographer Emily Topper.

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Director Statement

The Metalldetektor tells the story of Georg, an Austrian man who takes up metal detecting in his retirement.

Curious about the story of a World War II-era B17 that crashed on a neighboring hillside — a crash witnessed by his mother while standing on their lawn — he ventures into the woods and, much to his surprise, immediately begins exhuming engine parts.

What follows is an emotional journey into the difficult history of his town...

... into the lives of the American Airmen who perilously parachuted into this one-time enemy territory

... into locating and contacting their bewildered descendants

... into ultimately uniting the town and the families of these Airmen on the 75th anniversary of the crash.

This story collides two very different perspectives on the past. In Austria, there persists the notion of Erinnerungskultur, or a “Culture of Remembrance.” This is a duty felt by many Austrians to examine the atrocities of the war, what led to them, how they allowed them to happen, and how to prevent them from ever happening again.

In America, by contrast, glorification of war is part of an elaborate economic and cultural mechanism at the
very center of the country’s identity, which leads to an occasional collective amnesia about war’s darkest aspects.

The Metalldetektor collides these perspectives, and its events yield a deeper understanding of the problems of the past, and their hidden bearings on the present.