It’s cold and gray. Wintertime. People are freezing. That’s how it is here in Austria. That’s how it is there in the Ukraine. Two different worlds that are increasingly coming to resemble each other. The East looks like the West, the West like the East.
In this atmosphere two stories take place that at first glance appear unrelated. One is an import story. It begins in the Ukraine and leads to Austria. The other is an export story; it begins in Austria and ends in the Ukraine.
The first is about Olga, a young nurse and mother. Olga wants more from life. She wants to get out of the city, out of the country. She decides to go to Austria, which she does. In this foreign country in the West, she finds work and then loses it. She starts as a housekeeper and ends up a cleaning lady in a geriatric hospital.
Two individual fates,
two opposite directions.
The other story is about Paul, a young Austrian. He finally lands a job as a security guard but gets fired almost immediately. He finds himself back at the Employment Office. He has debts and borrows more money, from friends, strangers and his stepfather, who takes him along on a job in the Ukraine setting up video gambling machines.
Olga and Paul. Both are looking for work, a new beginning, an existence, life: Olga, who comes from the Eastern part of Europe, where unremitting poverty is the order of the day. Paul, who comes from the Western part, where unemployment means not hunger, but a crisis of meaning and sense of uselessness. Both are struggling to believe in themselves, to find a meaning in life. In both the West and East. Both travel to a new country, and thus into its depths. “Import Export” deals with sex and death, living and dying, winners and losers, power and helplessness, and how to give the teeth of a stuffed fox a professional cleaning job. [Synopsis courtesy of film’s official website]