V'21 Festivalinfo

With the gala screening of the film VERDENS VERSTE MENNEKE (THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD) by Joachim Trier, the 59th edition of the Viennale came to an end on Sunday, October 31.

The festival was able to achieve a very nice success in this challenging period with an attendance of 58.200 visitors and an occupancy rate of 74%. The last eleven cinema days have proven that the Viennese audience's joy and interest in seeing a diverse film program together in the cinema was greater than the shyness of packed halls.

"This 2021 edition has exceeded expectations," Viennale Director Eva Sangiorgi is pleased to say. "I was very satisfied with this year's program, and I was thoroughly proud of it. Therefore, it was all the more gratifying to experience that the audience showed great enthusiasm for it and that this was also reflected in the number of visitors."

Eröffnung Viennale 21 | © Viennale/Roland Ferrigato
Actress Anamaria Vartolomei, director Audrey Diwan (L' EVÉNEMENT) and festival director Eva Sangiorgi.

The Viennale 2021 had plenty of highlights to offer. Among them was of course the opening gala in the newly renovated Gartenbaukino in the presence of the director of the opening film L’EVÉNEMENT, Audrey Diwan, and the leading actress Anamaria Vartolomei. Following a nice idea of the previous year, the film was shown in all five Viennale cinemas on the opening night.

Terence DAVIS

A monography was dedicated to the exceptional British director Terence Davies, who was also present at the opening, and which was extremely well received by the Viennale audience. Davies inspired not only with his films, but also with his friendly presence, the interesting and humorous Q&A's after the screenings and the exciting and detailed workshop talk about screenwriting after a screening at the Urania. The fact that Terence Davies is planning to shoot his next film in Austria made everyone involved even happier.

Viennale / Alexi Pelekanos
GROSSE FREIHEIT at Gartenbaukino

Austrian film was not neglected in this festival edition either. The premiere of Sebastian Meise's internationally award-winning work GROSSE FREIHEIT, which won two further prizes at the Viennale, caused a particular stir.


The Viennale itself was not only pleased with enthusiastic reactions in domestic and foreign media, but this year also massively expanded its own presence on social media as well as with exciting video and podcasts.

The retrospective "Film as a Subversive Art - A Tribute to Amos Vogel" in collaboration with the Filmmuseum celebrated Vogel's 100th birthday and invited six curators* from around the world to create programs that, in Vogel's spirit, ask what "film", "subversive" and "art" can mean today.


V'21 Trailer

BUT WHY? by Terence Davies

The trailer for the 59th edition of the Viennale is by British filmmaker Terence Davies, to whom a monography is also dedicated this year.
BUT WHY? is a film that condenses in little more than one minute his poetics, which are marked by profound humanity, and that succeeds in making the viewer merge into an atmosphere of light and (Davies’ own) words. An elegy to time and life.

V'21 Poster Motifs

V'21 Plakat

The subject of the festival poster is a natural landscape. This fascinating and suggestive image makes us long for the re-opening of our geographical and spiritual borders in a time that has disrupted our habits and what we thought was safe. It’s inspired by an illustration from the late 19th century that served didactic purposes and was intended to both describe the world and make it known. Its depiction is therefore based on observation and imagination at the same time. Obviously, “the map is not the territory” – to quote the Polish-American scholar Alfred Korzybski – but precisely for this reason it’s an instrument of expansion, being both reproduction and projection. In it lies its affinity with the cinematographic dispositif that interprets our epoch through the subjectivity of its authors and multiplies these interpretations in the sensibility and experience of the viewers.


V'21 Retroplakat

A still from Guillaume Cailleau’s LABORAT (2014) introduces the Viennale Retrospective 2021. This film of about twenty minutes is featured in one of the multifaceted programs that constitute this year’s retrospective. They have been put together by programmers whose curatorial practice is characterized by promoting a critical cinema that questions the given conditions. The selections made by these delegates, who in turn have been chosen for their experience and sensitivity, emphasize the challenge that has been the catalyst for the entire cycle: namely, that the subversive power of cinema is still able to influence our view of things, to problematize things, and ultimately even to change them.

The image puts emphasis on the gaze of cinema, the gaze in cinema and its infinite possibilities: it’s a gaze that goes beyond the human dimension. This is one of the themes of this journey, inspired by Amos Vogel. His legacy lives on in all corners and film cultures of the world, and it comes together in the different strands that this retrospective explores and connects. We wanted to create a multi-voiced and collaborative retrospective that through its form alone underscores what other paths toward change and subversion are possible today.

V'21 Guests

Robert Newald

A touch of Hollywood touched Vienna and the Viennale with the presence of actor Matt Dillon, who, together with artist Shirin Neshat, presented their new film LAND OF DREAMS in the Gartenbaukino, which of course generated particularly great media interest.

In addition, this year the Viennale welcomed an exceptionally large number of great guests who presented their films - the same number as in 2019, for example, when the festival lasted three days longer - including Mia Hansen-Løve, Andrea Arnold, Mathieu Amalric, Sean Baker, Bruno Dumont, Nadav Lapid, Maria Speth and Abel Ferrara. At 140 of 250 screenings during the Viennale, our film guests answered questions from the moderators and the audience.

V'21 Award Winners


Jury: Choreographer and Dancer Christine Gaigg, Actress Aenne Schwarz and filmmaker Sebastian Brameshuber.

The Vienna Film Prize, donated by the City of Vienna and awarded at the Viennale, goes to a current Austrian feature film that has been screened during the past year. The prize consists of a sum of money, donated by the city’s cultural department, monetary support from the Hotel The Harmonie Vienna and generous material assets, sponsored by BLAUTÖNE and viennaFX. There are two awards: one for the best Austrian film and the Special Jury Prize. 

Best Austrian Film:

GROSSE FREIHEIT, Sebastian Meise, Austria/Germany 2021

GROßE FREIHEIT | Sebastian Meise, Österreich/Deutschland 2020/21 | © Viennale

Jury's statement: This visually stunning film addresses two major issues: freedom and love. It doesn’t shy away from great pathos and is masterfully delicate in detail at the same time. It traces the continuities and fault lines of social exclusion and societal standardization but without committing itself exclusively to a political cause. It feels as if we can smell the rooms when the air begins to run out. We can look into the innermost feelings of the fantastically performed and staged characters with great care and precision, follow them into every abyss but are never tempted to get too close to them or to feel superior – and precisely for that reason we can’t get rid of them.

Special Jury Prize:

BEATRIX, Milena Czernovsky, Lilith Kraxner, Austria 2021

Image of movie Beatrix

Jury's statement: This film is imbued with the mysterious and original power of cinema; it is a bold act of nonchalance and radical reduction. We see the emptiness of everyday life, Instagram-like situations, but the way the actress appears in these actions, namely oblivious and unabashed, these moments would not actually be suitable for Instagram at all. Instead, cinematographic sensuality and intimacy emerge. Banal activities go beyond themselves: cleaning turns out to be satisfying despite being disgusting; procrastination and social sulking reveal a certain charm. Economically narrated, precisely framed – this is how aesthetic resistance arises.


Jury: Jeremy Braunsberg, Robert Frenay, Marija Milosavljevic

The Standard Readers’ Jury Prize goes to a film that does not yet have an Austrian distributor and is especially recommended for screening in Austrian cinemas. Should the award-winning film find a distributor, Der Standard supports its film run with free advertising space in its newspaper.


KELTI, Milica Tomović, Serbia 2021

KELTI | Milica Tomovic, Serbien 2021 |© Viennale

Jury's statement: An 8-year-old's birthday party becomes a stage on which several intersecting dramas play out. In one corner, the kids critique each other's Ninja Turtles costumes; in another, the adults indulge in drunken discussions and amorous adventures. Over the course of a single night, this ambitious ensemble narrative, reminiscent of Altman, explores issues of identity, intimacy, sexuality and politics. The atmosphere in 1993 Belgrade may seem somber, but as the film progresses, the director highlights moments of joy, serenity and tenderness that shine through. The performances seem lively and improvised, as if we were joining a group of friends - amidst conversations and arguments that began before we arrived and will continue after we leave. The filmmaker guides us through the world of children with a sincere and serious eye, portraying their conflicts and dilemmas with as much seriousness and tension as those of the adults. We were touched by the film's humanity, its responsiveness to the characters' weaknesses, and its empathy for their longings. We were impressed by the director's mastery of space, clarity of vision, and ability to portray a large cast of characters in a way that made them instantly familiar. The jury is happy to give this award to Milica Tomović for her outstanding debut in feature film: KELTI.


Jury: Michael Phillips (USA), Veronika Zakonjsek (Slovenia), Marietta Steinhart (Austria)
First and second films by directors are available for the selection.

The FIPRESCI Prize went to:

RE GRANCHIO, Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matteo Zoppis, Italy/Argentina/France 2021

RE GRANCHIO | Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matteo Zoppis, Italien/Argentinien/Frankreich 2021 | © Viennale

Jury's statement: In their visually imaginative leap from documentary to narrative filmmaking, Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis follow their outcast protagonist from his tragedy in 19th century Tuscia, Italy, to his reinvention in the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego. With a knowing eye, raw beauty and authentic language, the two filmmakers affirm the power and poetry of folklore.


Jury: Silvia Bohrn (Kulturmanagerin), Boris Manner (Philosoph, Kurator), Andreas Ungerböck (Herausgeber)

In 2021, the ExtraVALUE Film Prize, initiated and donated by Erste Bank, was awarded for the 11th time. The Erste Bank ExtraVALUE film price is awarded among the Austrian film productions curated by the Viennale via an independent jury. The ExtraVALUE Film Prize enables a stay in New York City including a work presentation at the Anthology Film Archives.

The Erste Bank´s ExtraVALUE-Film Prize went to:

GROSSE FREIHEIT, Sebastian Meise, Austria/Germany 2021

GROßE FREIHEIT | Sebastian Meise, Österreich/Deutschland 2020/21 | © Viennale

Jury's statement: GROSSE FREIHEIT is a fearless film that is political without aiming for political correctness, a film that doesn’t psychologize and has a long, suspenseful narrative arc. Restricted freedom with the accompanying measures and enforcement that are legally legitimized as normal in their respective time periods provide the framework for these magnificently told love stories. Great actors who test the limits of their art in a claustrophobic setting, excellent lighting and camera work make this film an extraordinary experience.



Robert Newald

Maialen Beloki (San Sebastián Film Festival), Giona Nazzaro (Locarno Film Festival), Eva Sangiorgi (Viennale), Carlo Chatrian (Berlinale), Paolo Moretti (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, Cannes) 

After last year's complete abandonment of a festival headquarters, this year's festival once again provided a meeting point for cinema lovers away from the cinemas - albeit on a somewhat smaller scale: the Viennale Bar, ideally located between Gartenbaukino and Urania, invited to conversations and DJ lines in bar and club under strictly controlled 2G rules. Acting star Lars Eidinger made the crowd dance, the directors of the festivals of Berlin, Locarno, Cannes (Quinzaine des réalisateurs) and San Sebastián paid their respects to the Viennale and discussed the role and future of film festivals.