We’ll always remember 2021 as a year of transition: not only because of what we have experienced in the past one and a half years, but also because it has been a year full of political changes in numerous countries – democratic and otherwise. The Viennale can’t ignore the pulse of this time, it must reflect it. From an organizational point of view, we have to make it as easy as possible for the audience to participate in the events safely and comfortably. In addition, we thoroughly need to question what we actually do as a festival and what role and objective a “cinema fair” can have at all in these times. So this is an opportunity to rethink the event form as such and to discuss how the habits of our society are changing right now and what responsibility we, the film festival, have as a result.
It’s fitting that this year marks the centennial of the birth of an iconic figure of cinephilia, Amos Vogel (1921–2012), who was forced to emigrate from Austria to the United States at the age of 17. He always attached great importance to the intertwining of cinematic experience with the communal, political and psychological consciousness of a society and its individuals. The subversive power Vogel spoke of can’t be suppressed – and the Viennale not only recognizes this fact, but also celebrates it to this day in its language and content by making the unsaid and the disregarded visible, and by digging beneath the surface of a present that never pauses.
More than ever, the Viennale insists on the importance of a common space that must be shared and shareable, especially in a constantly changing society, and that should be used to better understand its changes. And even if we speak from a position which has to be described as privileged, it is even truer in view of everything that we have recently experienced.
In our part of the world, activities have resumed and cinemas are open again, so the Viennale will be an opportunity to celebrate the seventh art and its authors, but also to meet different players of the industry on an international level. We’ll be organizing a two-day meeting to discuss the current situation and the future of cinema as an art form and the future of the film industry as an economic sector. As part of this, we’d like to establish a dialogue between the various protagonists, the old and the young, newcomers and well-known personalities, about the role of festivals, the influence of electronic media, the new dynamics of consumption and advertising and, last but not least, about the prospects of preserving this art form that already carries over a hundred years of memories.