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The screenings are about to begin…

Vienna gets its cinema back. Finally. Because, in fact, even though cinemas in Austria have been running regularly again for several months now – always with due precautions, of course – this Viennale 2020 is the first major Austrian film festival to take place after the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An edition, this one, completely unique, where the security measures in order to contain the epidemic and guarantee the safety of the spectators will never be enough, where, for the occasion, other theatres (including the Votiv Kino and the Admiral Kino) have been added to the traditional ones hosting the festival, where for the third year running we will see Eva Sangiorgi as artistic director, and where – given the previous cancellation due to the Coronavirus – the Diagonale will also have its own dedicated section, with a selection of no less than six feature films and eight short films forming part of the programme Diagonale’20 Collection – “The Unfinishd”.

This year, as usual, the selection will be extremely rich and varied. And after an opening that will present the screening of the feature film Miss Marx – directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli and already screened in competition at the Venice Film Festival 2020 – preceded by the trailer of the Viennale 2020 Ad una Mela, directed by Alice Rohrwacher, we will have the opportunity to watch or re-watch feature films like Rizi (Tsai Ming-Liang), Summer of 85 (François Ozon), Le Sel des Larmes (Philippe Garrel), City Hall (Frederick Wiseman) and Genus Pan (Lav Diaz), just to mention a few titles.

Of course, within the official selection, there are also numerous feature films produced in Austria, presented here as national premieres, which we will follow closely. These include, for example, Notes from the Underworld, directed by director duo Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel and already screened at the Berlinale 2020, Resident Ground Floor, by the controversial and innovative German documentary filmmaker Jan Soldat, Quo vadis, Aida? by Jasmila Zbanic – also in competition at the Venice Film FestivalDavos, directed by Daniel Hoesl and Julia Niemann, the intense Epicentro, directed by Hubert Sauper, the equally promising Zaho Zay (Georg Tiller and Maeva Ranaivojaona), Evi Romen’s Why not you, Pavel Cuzuioc’s Please hold the Line, Clarissa Thieme’s What remains/Re-visited – also present at the last Berlinale – and, finally, 3.30PM, the newest work by the acclaimed independent filmmaker Ludwig Wüst.

But this is only part of the enormous programme that will be presented to the Viennese (and other) public from October 22nd to November 1st. Alongside a rich official selection, in fact, there are also several retrospectives and monographs designed to take us deeper into authors and currents of the past. And if the retrospectives dedicated to the German director Christoph Schlingensief, the American author Phil Salomon, and the French filmmakers Isabel Pagliai and Cécile Fontaine are particularly noteworthy, the section Austrian Auteurs, in collaboration with the Filmarchiv Austria, will particularly catch our attention. Here, we will be presented classics of Austrian cinema made between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s by filmmakers who gave rise to a new way of understanding cinema in Austria. We are talking, just to name a few, about titles like Jesus of Ottakring (Wilhelm Pellert, 1975), Magic Glass (Mansur Madavi, 1974) and Zechmeister (Angela Summereder, 1981).

As already mentioned, special attention will also be paid to the section Diagonale’20 Collaction – “The Unfinished”. On this particular occasion, then, some of the feature and short films that should have been part of the original programme of the Diagonale 2020 will be screened, including the excellent Gli Appunti di Anna Azzori – Uno Specchio che viaggia nel Tempo by Constanze Ruhm, Running on Empty by Lisa Weber, Ordinary Creatures by Thomas Marschall and the award-winning The Trouble with being born, the second feature by young director Sandra Wollner.

In short, there will be something for everyone. All this in an edition – this one of the Viennale 2020 – where we experience an atmosphere of hopeful rebirth, where being able to enjoy cinemas again seems a much more precious event than we initially thought. A Viennale 2020 full of ideas and good intentions. And the wonderful Vienna in the background does the rest.

Below are reviews of the Austrian films presented at the Viennale 2020. The selection also includes interviews as well as the programme Diagonale’20 Collaction – “The Unfinished”, presented during the festival.

Info: the website of the Viennale