After more than two years, the Festival of Austrian Film will return to Graz from June 8 to 13 and – in keeping with official safety regulations – will spread throughout the Styrian capital more than ever before. At new sites and additional venues, the six-day Diagonale’21 is a celebration of Austrian film and the cinema. Source: press release.
Many new stories on the big screen
Festival directors Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber have now presented the program of the 24th edition of the festival in Graz, which is taking place under unusual conditions.
In the film competition, which is the heart of the festival, the Diagonale’21 will screen 108 current feature, documentary, and short films and award Austria’s most highly endowed film prizes, first and foremost the Grand Diagonale Prizes of the Province of Styria for the festival’s best feature film and best documentary as well as the Diagonale Prize for Innovative Cinema of the City of Graz. This year’s competition entries are unusual simply because they (again) expand the gaze after a nearly “monothematic year”:
“Beat and anarcho authors, clowns, enfants terribles, and Jedermann’s mistress (Buhlschaft). From the music underground to Berlin’s artists’ dives to the underworld of Vienna’s outskirts and from there to the streets of the motor city Detroit. This year’s competition is an invitation to take an on-screen border-crossing journey through countries and biographies. To view together, look at one another, and watch.”. — Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber, Festival directors
Opening and gala premieres in the Helmut List Halle
For the first time, the country’s largest temporary cinema – the Helmut List Halle – will be used on two days of the Diagonale’21 festival. Following the Austrian premiere of Arman T. Riahi’s Fox in a Hole (AT 2020) as part of the opening day on June 8, the feature films Me, We (D: David Clay Diaz, AT 2020) and SARGNAGEL (D: Sabine Hiebler, Gerhard Ertl, AT 2021) will have their world premieres on June 9 in the Helmut List Halle, which is laid out as a chess board and can thus hold roughly 600 viewers.
Awarding of the Grand Diagonale Acting Prize 2021 to Christine Ostermayer will also take place as part of the celebratory opening on June 8 (6.30 p.m.). To conform with curfew and distancing laws, the Festival of Austrian Film will open with two consecutive screenings. Following the cancellation of the Diagonale’20, Ursula Strauss will now personally accept the Grand Diagonale Acting Prize on June 8. The awards ceremony will take place within the framework of the first screening at 1.30 p.m.
Diagonale im Dialog
Verena Altenberger, Alexandra Augustin, Ute Baumhackl, Katrina Daschner, David Clay Diaz, Stefan Grissemann, Jessica Hausner, Voodoo Jürgens (David Öllerer), Dominik Kamalzadeh, Martina Kudláček, Leopold Lummerstorfers, Lukas Miko, Michael Omasta, Ulrike Ottinger, Valerie Pachner, Claudia Slanar, and Barbara Zeman – since 2017, the Diagonale im Dialog series has made possible encounters with key figures in (local) filmmaking. With talks about films screened before or after, the cinema space has since opened to include stimulating discussions.
Canale Diagonale – Cinema at home, festival throughout Austria!
Labelled Canale Diagonale, the Festival of Austrian Film supplements this year’s cinema screenings in Graz with a digital offer that includes curated collections (Flimmit, KINO VOD CLUB, and DAFilms), unique online premieres (FM4 and Ö1), and also occasional live showings of the branch and audience discussions (Diagonale Film Meeting and Let’s talk about scripts!). The Diagonale’s awards ceremony will also be broadcast for the first time as a show produced on site: the Grand Diagonale Prize Revue (D: Sebastian Brauneis) will be available for viewing on June 13 at 8.15 p.m. on the livestream of the Kleine Zeitung, on the FM4 website, in the TVthek (ORF III), and also at ten past midnight as part of the ORF III program.
Historical special: Sehnsucht 20/21 – City and Desire
The twenty-one feature, documentary, and experimental films planned for the Diagonale’20 historical special lead to sites that make the interplay of built and lived city comprehensible – from the housing estates in Red Vienna through to a beach dominated by the Viennese on the upper Adriatic, from the idyllic provincial countryside to the urban periphery and further into the megacities of this world, from auspicious Manhattan to the seedy underworld of Frankfurt or the colorful corners of the queer opera milieu. A joint special by Diagonale, Filmarchiv Austria, Austrian Film Museum, and the ORF Archive.
Displaced Persons – Keine Heimat, nirgendwo!
Parallel to the historical special and with a view to current events, the program presented by SYNEMA – Gesellschaft für Film und Medien aims to recall historical migration movements via films that focus on so-called displaced persons’ lives in the camps and films made by emigrant filmmakers.
Elfriede Jelinek: Zum Geburtstag
With a two-part mini-special, a birthday greeting goes to the Nobel Prize in Literature winner Elfriede Jelinek on her seventy-fifth birthday. A TV film that set off protests, a report on the young adult TV show “Kontakt”, a collaboration with VALIE EXPORT, and numerous rakishly researched online archive documents across the decades form the puzzle parts that aim to offer an exploration of several of Jelinek’s most important themes.
Zur Person: Jessica Hausner
With the Zur Person series, the Diagonale’21 turns its focus to the director Jessica Hausner and her widely acclaimed filmmaking. The Festival of Austrian Film will show the country’s first comprehensive retrospective of Hausner’s oeuvre including the rediscovery of an early work from her student days. Following the cancellation of the Diagonale’20, the program, supplemented by the music video Attwenger – erso&sieso (AT 2021) and a book presentation, can finally be seen on screen.
The In Referenz program series is designed as the bond connecting the festival architecture. Films are placed in relation to one another, between the different tracks of the program, and international works meet films made in Austria. From Zur Person they lead into the historical specials and into the current program, further to book presentations and vice versa. Jessica Hausner meets Martina Kudláček and Marie Menken via Maya Deren and Teiji Ito. Kirill Mikhanovsky meets Wolff von Amerongen, Alexander Horwath, and Gerhard Friedl via Franz Grabner. Austria meets the US, the historical overlaps with the current.
Premiere tour: Ulrike Ottinger
In the context of a joint tour with the Austrian Film Museum and Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz, the Diagonale’21 is premiering Ulrike Ottinger’s Paris Calligrammes (DE/FR 2019) in Graz. Ottinger, who was honored for her life’s work at the Berlinale 2020, will be present at the screenings in Linz, Vienna, and Graz. The Festival of Austrian Film is showing the cinematic “Figurengedicht” (calligram), which had its world premiere last year in Berlin, as part of the In Referenz series – as an extension of its historical special Sehnsucht 20/21 – City and Desire. After the screening in Graz, the author Barbara Zeman will host an in-depth talk with Ulrike Ottinger (Diagonale im Dialog).
GIVE ME LIBERTY! Two films, one speech—and an online workshop talk
Inviting Alexander Horwath to give a talk at the ceremony for the Franz Grabner Prize resulted in the plan for a three-part “speech”, which in addition to the ceremonial address also includes the screenings of two outstanding films: Give Me Liberty (US 2019) by Kirill Mikhanovsky and Hat Wolff von Amerongen Konkursdelikte begangen? (AT/DE 2004) by Gerhard Friedl. Following the exclusive Austrian premiere of Give Me Liberty, a virtual workshop talk by Alexander Horwath and Marius Hrdy with the two filmmakers Kirill Mikhanovsky (screenplay writer and director) and Alice Austen (screenplay writer and producer) will be available for viewing at KINO VOD CLUB.
New halls, new spaces: Cinema, club, and festival center
The Diagonale festival center is located at Herrengasse 26 this year, a move made in cooperation with the Design Month Graz. New to the festival are three additional cinema halls at KIZ RoyalKino (hall 2) and in Annenhof Kino (halls 2 and 7). In addition, the Diagonale will be a guest in the Orpheum for two days where it will present seated concerts in the interstice of club and cinema: Featuring the creating of a live musical score and reassembly of Johannes Gierlinger’s The fortune you seek is in another cookie (AT 2014) and a live AV performance by DORIAN CONCEPT and PRCLS.
The Diagonale’21 takes place from June 8 to 13 in Graz and thus also shapes the finale of the Austrian round of film festivals, which includes the short film festival Vienna Shorts (May 27 to June 1) and the Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz (June 1 to 6). Together with numerous partners, such as the DRAMA|TIK|ER|INNEN|FESTIVAL and Mountainfilm Graz, the Diagonale offers an impulse for the restart of local cultural life.
Ticket sales begin on June 2 at the festival center at Herrengasse 26, at Kunsthaus Graz, and on diagonale.at/tickets. From June 9, also at the festival cinemas.
For the fourth time, the Franz Grabner Prize in the categories cinema and television documentary will be awarded on June 10. Further highlights of the festival week include the awarding of the Carl Mayer and Thomas Pluch Screenwriting Prizes on June 11 as well as the Grand Diagonale Prize Revue on June 13. In the context of the Diagonale’21, expert juries award Austria’s most highly endowed film prizes, first and foremost the Grand Diagonale Prizes of the Province of Styria as well as the Diagonale Prize for Innovative Cinema of the City of Graz.