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The Diagonale, the most important film festival dedicated to Austrian cinema, will present a varied and surprising programme that will open with the world premiere screening of the documentary The most beautiful Place on Earth by Elke Groen.

That small village in Burgenland…

The festival of Austrian film from March 24 to 29, run by directing duo Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber for the fifth year, presents a pluralistic, and in the best sense of the term surprising program. Starting things off will be the world premiere of the extraordinary documentary Der schönste Platz auf Erden (The most beautiful Place on Earth, AT 2020) by Elke Groen.

The Zur Person section, dedicated in this 2020 edition to Jessica Hausner, and the retrospective entitled Sehnsucht 2020 – Eine kleine Stadterzählung, are also at the heart of the festival programme. Jennifer Mattes made the festival trailer. From the beginning of March, the work, focusing on Rainer Werner Fassbinder, will be screened in Austrian cinemas to present the Diagonale’20 in Graz.

The most beautiful Place on Earth by Elke Groen

In its 23rd edition in Graz, the country’s most important festival of Austrian film will present Elke Groen’s detailed and disturbing portrait of the microcosm of the small town Pinkafeld. The documentary, produced by Golden Girls Filmproduktion (Arash T. Riahi and Sabine Gruber with Elke Groen), will have its world premiere in Graz.

Pinkafeld in Burgenland – A communal melting pot in a globalized world

The most beautiful place on earth is a bench under a tree. It’s an inn, a disco. Somewhere where there’s no war. Perhaps it’s in Austria. Maybe in Pinkafeld, in Burgenland. A scant six thousand people live here. The most beautiful Place on Earth begins in 2016. Pinkafeld are behind Norbert Hofer as Federal President, although normally people here vote for the Social Democratic Party. The residents are facing three grueling years. Between the local’s table, traditional “Perchtenlauf,” and the Ibiza video, Elke Groen eavesdrops on the thoughts of the people of Pinkafeld, talks with them, and draws a multi-perspectival picture of social life beyond metropolitan centers.

The most beautiful Place on Earth in the largest cinema in Austria. For us, that makes sense in many ways: For one, because documentary is all too rarely given the largest festival stage. And for another, because Elke Groen has put together a film that contrary to widespread populist clichés, has actually listened to the country – Austria – and sought out dialogue, without telling people what they want to hear. While Groen is interested in life in the provincial cosmos, at the same time, she thinks globally, interconnects her own perception with that of others, locally and internationally. And incidentally, The most beautiful Place on Earth is, also, most importantly: a crucial record of Austria’s latest contemporary history.”. ––– Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber

Sehnsucht 2020 – Eine kleine Stadterzählung

Film, cinema and city all symbolise fantasies and desires that always dangerously could turn into the opposite, all offering the opportunity to lose oneself in seductive twinkling lights. The 22 films in Sehnsucht 2020 – Eine kleine Stadterzählung – a Diagonale retrospective curated by the Filmarchiv Austria, the Austrian Film Museum and the ORF archive – focus on the keywords city and desire in Austrian cinema and lead to places that show the interaction between urbanised cities and their inhabitants. The programme can be screened from 25 to 29 March at the Diagonale in Graz.

Zur Person: Jessica Hausner

Ambiguous, artistic, award-winning films with a distinctive signature since 1996: with the Zur Person section, the Diagonale’20 focuses on director Jessica Hausner and her celebrated filmography. Starting with her latest film, Little Joe, which was the only Austrian contribution to the competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2019, the Diagonale’20 shows a complete retrospective of Hausner’s oeuvre, including the rediscovery of a previously unreleased early work.

“Jessica Hausner’s cinema is enchanting, captivating, sometimes disturbing, in its most fascinating sense. Her films are always elaborately designed, meticulously thought out down to the smallest detail and precisely edited. The spectator’s curious gaze literally wants to focus on every single sequence. Hausner’s cinema is also sometimes very funny and full of humour. A cinema that depicts reality with the highest artificiality and is able to describe the nature of our world more accurately, with a strong critical component at its core’. ––– Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber

In Referenz: silent post between genders and generations

The Zur Person section and the retrospective are connected to the In Referenz section in various ways: through the protagonists and the corresponding film works. Jessica Hausner meets Martina Kudláček, Marie Menken and Deborah Stratman Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid Teiji Ito. Austria meets the United States, history merges with contemporaneity. In this way, the festival becomes the focus of a multitude of common threads that are sometimes more clearly visible and sometimes more hidden.

In Referenz: the Styrian Musikverein

A concert celebrating this year’s historical anniversaries: 75 years since the end of the war and liberation from National Socialism, 65 years since the State Treaty, 25 years since Austria’s accession to the EU. For the first time, the Styrian Musikverein, the Diagonale and the Austrian Film Museum will collaborate on a concert and film evening.

The Diagonale’20 trailer by Jennifer Mattes

Jennifer Mattes’ audiovisual business card for the festival consists of five episodes and will be screened in Austrian cinemas from the beginning of March 2020 in order to present the Diagonale in Graz. The work, focusing on Rainer Werner Fassbinder, will be screened at the opening of selected screenings. From March 20 to April 19, the Kunsthaus Graz will also present the exhibition Jennifer Mattes – Bars von Atlantis. The opening will take place on March 19, 2020 at 19:00.

The Diagonale’20 will take place from the 24th to the 29th of March in Graz. The full programme will be announced on the 13th of March. Ticket sales will start on the 18th of March 2020.

Info: the website of the Diagonale