In 2021, film lovers in Vienna can once again breathe a sigh of relief. We consider ourselves lucky that, despite adverse conditions, we’ve been able to maintain the continuity of our event, having prepared the 59th edition of the Viennale with a lot of enthusiasm and somewhat more peace of mind. These preparations also include security protocols that will enable easier access to the venues: five magnificent, classical cinemas, among them Gartenbaukino, which will reopen fully renovated. This is something that not only the Viennese public has been waiting for but also many friends of the festival and international filmmakers who have applauded the endeavor over the past months.
The Viennale is expanding its barrier-free offerings, taking another step towards mastering the challenges that inclusion poses to contemporary society. In Urania, four screenings will be offered with audio description for the visually impaired, and audio induction loop systems are now available in all the five cinemas for the hearing impaired. “Cinema for all” is what these efforts stand for – in the same way as the screening of our traditional surprise film on October 26 at 11 a.m. and the Erste Bank ExtraVALUE matinee on October 31 at 10:30 a.m., both at Gartenbaukino.
This year, we’re commemorating the 100th birthday of the most famous Viennese cinephile, Amos Vogel, who took his love of cinema to the other side of the Atlantic and passed it on there. In collaboration with the Austrian Film Museum and with the active participation of various curators from different parts of the world, we’ve created a program that reflects Vogel’s critical spirit and the subversive thrust of his programming in a contemporary way.
The Viennale program includes about 240 productions, and one focal point is the short form, traditionally the auteur genre among films, because it offers both promising debutants and established directors ever different and ever new possibilities of expression. Yet the intense program, screened over merely eleven days, only really comes alive in the encounter with the filmmakers on site; because it’s their physical presence and the opportunity to exchange ideas directly with them that makes a festival what it is. This year, we’ve invited numerous industry guests who will not only fill the cinema auditoriums but also the corners of the city with their energy. Among them is Terence Davies, who recently won an award at the San Sebastián Festival for the screenplay of his latest film, BENEDICTION. Davies will offer insights into his writing process in a workshop discussion, organized jointly with Drehbuchforum Wien. As part of this event, we’ll present the third volume of a film criticism series of books, launched in 2019, TEXTUR #3, which is dedicated to Terence Davies.
In addition, we’re looking forward to having live music in cinema. Musical accompaniment will be provided for films representing the magnificent work of Henrik Galeen in the Monography special organized by Filmarchiv Austria, as well as for two programs dedicated to the pioneer of film trickery and master of the fantastic, Segundo de Chomón, as part of our Historiography special. For some time now, the economy of cinema has not only been experiencing markets and reception habits in a state of flux but is also confronted with new players in the industry. To reflect on the role and responsibility of film festivals in the economy of auteur cinema, we have organized a meeting aimed at both professionals and those who simply want to learn more about the world of festivals. In this regard, we’re looking forward to the presence of directors of major film festivals like the Berlinale and Locarno. This event is part of a more extensive program that runs until the end of next year and is aimed at grasping the basics of the transition period that we’re currently going through and identifying the needs that arise from it.
With our selection of 42 short and medium-length films – divided into programs and summarized under aspects of themes and aesthetics – we want to underline the importance of this format. In addition to eight programs, there are a number of films that accompany a feature-length film, like classic supporting films. The overall offering is more extensive than in previous years.
Short film is a format that escapes the logic of distribution channels and commercial exploitability, which, however, doesn’t mean that it’s only something for amateurs or beginners. We want to give more space to short films than before because they are challenging and concentrated and at the same time free and adventurous, despite or especially because of their length limitations. We want to bring an artistic medium to the fore that is far more open than most others are in searching for form and expression, that roams the realms and languages of art, and that, in our opinion, can and should claim the space it needs to reach out to its audience, especially at film festivals.
We’re presenting films by both new and established directors, from Apichatpong Weerasethakul to Peter Tscherkassky, from Ute Aurand to Friedl vom Gröller. We’re showing works of long-active filmmakers who have already been appreciated for their feature-length films, such as Lois Patiño, Matías Piñeiro and Salomé Lamas. We’re presenting works of extremely experienced short-film artists, such as Morgan Quaintance and Daïchi Saïto. Many of the films – all of them screened in Austria for the first time – will have their world premiere at the Viennale. And we’re expecting our guests to attend the screenings.
The titles of the eight different programs – Inheritances, Reconfiguring the Earth, Human Material, The Scope of Dreams, Social Skins, Mysterious Objects, A Certain Intimacy, A Radiant Earth – also leave space for associations to be made with the feature-length films in this year’s selection.
Undeniably, the selected films speak of us and the world – conveyed through the political, humanistic and social thoughts they develop. In doing so, they pay special attention to memory and history – which is also sometimes even confirmed in the films’ titles.
“Cinema has that enormous potential that allows us to reformulate insights and store knowledge,” says Fabrizio Ferraro. To him we dedicate a program, a filmography that offers a cross-section of his work, presenting those historical figures that inspire(d) him: the undesirables, who, like Walter Benjamin in LES UNWANTED DE EUROPA, in opposition to prevailing opinion, revealed the fractures, contradictions and cracks of their respective day and age. Memory and history also merge in Terence Davies’ elegant oeuvre; in this case in a very personal and poetic way that truly celebrates the circle of life and the passing of time, lending them an incomparable rhythm.
Another topic that is stirring our current times is education. We will visit Mr. Bachmann’s classroom (HERR BACHMANN UND SEINE KLASSE by Maria Speth) and get acquainted with the manifold divisions of today’s society, which become evident in NOUS by Alice Diop and in NOUS DISONS RÉVOLUTION by Nicolas Klotz and Elisabeth Perceval, to mention only two from a large number of films.
Generations explain themselves to us through film, in works that are open in their conception and thus have a constructive effect. These include FUTURA by Pietro Marcello, Francesco Munzi and Alice Rohrwacher and QUIÉN LO IMPIDE by Jonás Trueba. The latter is an extraordinary film that we’d like to invite you to discover. It was shot over a period of four years with eight adolescents as the main actors who talk about themselves, “play” themselves, and question each other in this co-written feature film – which in turn connects their past experiences with their hopes for and expectations of the future. QUIÉN LO IMPIDE recently premiered at the San Sebastián Festival and will be presented in collaboration with the Spanish Embassy in a special screening at the Viennale. The director and some of the actors will be present to talk with the audience and initiate a conversation that, like the film itself, is intended to expand socially beyond the boundaries of the screen.
Six feature-length films and ten short films from Austria are part of this year’s program. Of these, some are celebrating their world premiere at the Viennale, while others can finally be seen “at home” after being presented at festivals abroad. Sixteen films from Austria, which we proudly and gratefully place in an enriching dialogue with our international contemporary cinema selection.
In conclusion, we’d like to note that the selection of films includes individual and universal dramas as well as those about everyday occurrences and extraordinary events. Created not only with critical intensity, but also with the means of the genres, they are sometimes comical, sometimes garish and colorful, appearing in the form of a chamber play set in the seclusion of an apartment, as a road movie or in the guise of an expedition. DRIVE MY CAR by Ryusuke Hamaguchi is just one example from this realm of possibilities.
Austrian Films at the V’21
BEATRIX Milena Czernovsky, Lilith Kraxner, Austria 2021
GROßE FREIHEIT Sebastian Meise, Austria/Germany 2021
KRAI Aleksey Lapin, Austria 2021
MONEYBOYS C.B. Yi, Austria/France/Belgium/Taiwan 2021
STORIES FROM THE SEA Jola Wieczorek, Austria 2021
OUTSIDE NOISE Ted Fendt, Germany/South Korea/Austria 2021
2020 Friedl vom Gröller, Austria 2021
AS TIME GOES BY Wilbirg Brainin-Donnenberg, Austria 2021
NESTING ENDLESS Karl-Heinz Klopf, Austria 2021
NULLO Jan Soldat, Austria/Germany 2021
DAS RAD Friedl vom Gröller, Austria 2021
SEKUNDENARBEITEN Christiana Perschon, Austria 2021
SIE MÖCHTE, DASS ER GEHT, SIE MÖCHTE, DASS ER BLEIBT. Viki Kühn, Austria/Germany 2021 SOCIAL SKILLS Henry Hills, Austria/Belgium 2021
TRAIN AGAIN Peter Tscherkassky, Austria 2021
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE Michaela Grill, Austria/Canada 2021