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As part of the festival opening on April 5, the Diagonale’22 will award the Grand Diagonale Acting Award 2022 for services to Austrian film culture for the 15th time. The Diagonale is pleased to announce that this year’s award goes to Branko Samarovski. The stage, film and television actor will receive the award – an artwork by Constantin Luser – in Graz personally. Source: press release.

An extraordinary talent

“Incredibly, since the late 1960s, Branko Samarovski has shown extraordinary versatility not only in theatre, but also as a character actor in film and television. He loves to create eccentric, curious and always deeply human characters, without whom Austrian cinema would be poorer in many colours”. The jury therefore unanimously decided to award Branko Samarovski with the Grand Diagonal Acting Award 2022.

In an initial statement, Ute Baumhackl, Christian Konrad, Marie Kreutzer, August Schmölzer and Kristina Sprenger particularly emphasised Samarovski’s ability to create big things from apparently small roles: “As an apparent outsider, Branko Samarovski discreetly makes his way into a work, no matter how big (or small) his role, thus forming a parenthesis that brings the work itself to its peak. Many great directors have thankfully recognised Samarovski’s acting intelligence and rejected all clichés … a master with charm, cleverness and courage.”.

Supporting actor as main job

Born in 1939, Branko Samarovski made his film debut in Herbert Achternbusch’s satire Der junge Mönch (BRD 1978) in a secondary role – as a supporting actor, as he should more aptly be called. Subsequently, Samarovski appeared in numerous film and television productions, including several works by the award-winning director and screenwriter Michael Haneke: for his portrayal of the invalid Andreas Pum in Haneke’s TV drama The Rebellion (AT 1993) – inspired by Joseph Roth’s novel of the same name – he was awarded the Goldener Kader for Best Actor by the Association of Austrian Cinematographers, this time in a leading role.

Other collaborations between Branko Samarovski and Michael Haneke, to whom Diagonale’22 dedicates the double feature Funny Games on the occasion of his 80th birthday, include the dramas 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (AT 1994) and Time of the Wolf (FR/AT/DE 2003), as well as the award-winning historical drama The White Ribbon (DE/AT/FR/IT 2009). Samarovski also appeared in Peter Payer’s Ravioli (AT 2003), in the children’s film Karo and God himself (Danielle Proskar, AT 2006) and in the films Mr. Kuka’s Advice (Dariusz Gajewski, AT 2007), North Face (Philipp Stölzl, DE/AT/CH 2008), Coming of Age (Sabine Hiebler, Gerhard Ertl, AT 2011) and Murder Town (Andreas Prochaska, AT 2015), all screened at the Diagonale. He is known to a wide television audience as the passionate fruit and vegetable grower Blasius Schmalzl in the TV series Der Winzerkönig (AT/DE 2005-2009) and as Dr. Feist sen. in David Schalko’s series Braunschlag (AT 2012).

At the Diagonale’22 Samarovski will lend his voice in an animated film, as he did in 2013 in the short films Rosa coeli (AT 2003) and Herna (AT 2010) by Josef Dabernig: he can be heard in Snotty Boy (Marcus H. Rosenmüller, Santiago López Jover, AT/DE 2021).

From the blacksmith’s workshop to the castle

In addition to his work for film and television, Samarovski can look back on a long theatrical career: his first engagements took him from 1966 to the Schauspielhaus Graz, Darmstadt and, from 1972 to 1979, to the Staatstheater Stuttgart, where he played numerous leading roles under the direction of Alfred Kirchner and Claus Peymann, among others. From 1979 to 1985 he performed – again under Peymann – at the Schauspielhaus Bochum. From 1985 to 1991 he was engaged at the Schaubühne in Berlin, where he worked with Klaus Michael Grüber, Peter Stein, Bob Wilson, Andrzej Wajda and Luc Bondy, among others. Branko Samarovski made his debut at the Salzburg Festival in 1966 and was engaged there several times in various roles – for example as the devil in Hofmannsthal’s ‘Jedermann’. Since 1991 Branko Samarovski has been a member of the ensemble of the Vienna Burgtheater.

Branko Samarovski was born in 1939 in Zemun, now a district of Belgrade. At the age of 14, he began an apprenticeship as a blacksmith in Salzburg. In addition to this activity, he acted at the Elisabethbühne, a small theatre for couples under the high altar of St Elisabeth’s Church in Salzburg. He took private acting lessons and finally completed his training at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. At the Österreichischer Filmpreis 2017 he was awarded Best Supporting Actor in Kai Wessel’s Fog in August (DE/AT 2016).

The presentation of the Grand Diagonal Acting Award 2022 to Branko Samarovski will take place during the festival opening ceremony on April 5 at 7.30 pm in the Helmut List Halle in Graz. The Festival of Austrian Film opens with the Austrian premiere of Kurdwin Ayub’s Sonne (AT 2022).

An artwork for Branko Samarovski, created by Constantin Luser

The winner of the Grand Diagonal Acting Award 2022 will receive an artwork, created and donated by Constantin Luser, made possible by legero united – the shoemakers | Initiator of

For this year’s Grand Diagonale Acting Award, Constantin Luser, who was born in Graz in 1976 and has received many international awards – he recently received the Dagmar Chobot Skulpturenpreis – adapted the artwork especially for this year’s winner Branko Samarovski:

“We started by measuring the head. Now the award can be worn on the head as if it were a mitre. Folded like a visor, it becomes a mask – the corners of the mouth are adjustable”.

— Constantin Luser on the prize he donated

Jury of the Grand Diagonale Acting Award 2022

Ute Baumhackl (Head of Culture and Media, Kleine Zeitung)

Christian Konrad (Head of Film Department, ORF)

Marie Kreutzer (director, screenwriter, AT)

August Schmölzer (actor, author, AT)

Kristina Sprenger (actress, AT)

Previous winners of the Grand Diagonale Acting Award

Christine Ostermayer (2021), Ursula Strauss (2020), Birgit Minichmayr (2019), Ingrid Burkhard (2018), Johannes Krisch (2017), Erni Mangold (2016), Tobias Moretti (2015), Georg Friedrich (2014), Maria Hofstätter (2013), Johannes Silberschneider (2012), Senta Berger (2011), Klaus Maria Brandauer (2010), Josef Hader (2009), Karl Markovics (2008).

Info: the pageof the Grand Diagonale Acting Award 2022 to Branko Samarovski on the website of the Diagonale