A Viennale that changes and rejuvenates – this is one of the associations suggested by the motif of this year’s festival poster. The snake, which can renew itself by shedding its old skin, has been associated with healing powers since ancient Greece and thus been preserved in the Aesculapian staff as a symbol of pharmacology. We see the snake as a sign of the venerable longing for knowledge and erudition that has often forced it into the role of an uncomfortable antagonist, and we liberate it from the image of malice and evil that has been attached to it.
In this sense, the snake of the Viennale evokes a cinema of openness that longs for discoveries; a cinema that heals us from the manipulations of the media. This cinema is thrilling and fascinating, and has the ability to open the senses and the eyes – comparable to the snake that has no eyelids and thus never closes its eyes.
In its form and the way it moves, the snake also reminds us of cinema, as it can be easily associated with the rolling filmstrip. Because of its suppleness, changeability and unpredictability, it is a subject in constant transformation, able to adapt to its surroundings, to its environment. In its graphic design and on the surface, the poster subject also plays with different movements that extend in different directions. Further leitmotifs are pushing the boundaries, expanding space, defying any cataloging. Directing this impulse of tension toward what stands outside, far from the center and beyond the borders, we have put together a program that explores unconventional intentions and that, in order to get to the bottom of as many things as possible, includes a balance of both established and promising new authors and films from various economic contexts.
A still from the film NUSJA DHE SHTETRRETHIMI (The Bride and the Curfew) by Kristaq Mitro and Ibrahim Muçaj – shot in 1978 in a part of communist Yugoslavia that now belongs to Albania – serves as the poster motif for this year’s retrospective, a collaboration between the Viennale and the Austrian Film Museum. The selection of some fifty titles from all over Europe is dedicated to a genre that, as a result of
geopolitical tensions, represented the national cinema production of certain countries for many years after the Second World War. Thus this retrospective features a fundamental part of our history, expressed in the form of ideologies but also with the help of political ideas; ideas that contrast with those allowed by the ruling system; ideas that celebrate the spirit of anti-fascism. Titled O Partigiano! Pan-European Partisan Film, the retrospective presents films – 35mm copies from the major European film archives – which differ in sound and intention, but which, today more than ever, can inject a new sense of urgency into the need for resistance and contradiction.