Tribute: Will Ferrell

In today’s Hollywood cinema, which isn’t exactly bursting with intelligence, inventiveness and originality, the so-called New American Comedy is considered one of the few exceptions in everyday production, as a kind of genre in itself, a genre that has stood out for some years now with precisely the features that others lack: intelligence, inventiveness and originality.  Acting as guarantors for it, although not always on a consistently high level, are names such as Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, the Farelly Brothers and some others. Possibly the most outstanding figure of the group known as “Frat Pack” is the actor and co-author of a series of terrific comedies, Will Ferrell. Born in 1967, Ferrell began his career, like many of his colleagues, on the comedy show “Saturday Night Live,” before he became an absolute cult figure with a series of film comedies starting in around 2000, and one of the best-paid American actors of the decade. In OLD SCHOOL (2002), ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY (2004), TALLADEGA NIGHTS (2006), BLADES OF GLORY (2006) and STEP BROTHERS (2008) Will Ferrell developed a completely independent, personal kind of comedy, which mainly thrives on the interplay of gestural, motoric and verbal idiosyncrasies – a sort of “Ferrell Touch,” in which the infantile, the narcissistic, the desperate and the manly form a hitherto unknown alliance. It often seems as if he were acting in front of a mirror rather than the camera, as the Australian critic Adrian Martin noted, referring to the somnambulistic and regressive impression of his figures that starkly contrast with the virile and physical presence of Will Ferrell. The Viennale is the first international festival to dedicate a tribute to the exceptional comedian Will Ferrell, presenting a selection of ten feature-length films and programs, including the rarely shown WILL FERRELL: YOU’RE WELCOME AMERICA. A FINAL NIGHT WITH GEORGE W. BUSH (2009) and CASA DE MI PADRE (2012) and a series of sketches from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and the comedy website Funny or Die. “I’m flattered,” says Ferrell, who will be coming to Vienna for the festival. Surprises included.