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On the occasion of the K3 Film Festival 2023, Cinema Austriaco had the opportunity to have a chat with director and founder Fritz Hock and co-director Piera Nodari. With them we talked about this edition specifically, the importance of keeping the contact with the audience alive and active and, in general, how important film festivals are nowadays. Interview by Marina Pavido.

Marina Pavido: Tell us something about this edition of the K3 Film Festival.

Fritz Hock: Starting with the question of whether idols still exist and whether ideals can survive in a world that seems to be evolving for the worse, the overall theme of this year’s edition, ‘Ideals and Idols’, allows for a wide range of interpretations and reflections. The programme by no means claims to provide concrete answers. Rather, viewers are invited to engage in reflections in a very broad sense: Light and sound, opinions and ideas, interpretations and discussions. In this echo, an idea of ideals and idols can emerge that enriches the festival.

Piera Nodari: Yes, and I would also say that in general we have edited a selection of films that reflects very well the diversity and richness of the film productions of the neighbouring regions of Carinthia, Slovenia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, so many genres within a few kilometres!

F. H.: Then, starting with the theme ‘Ideals and Idols’, we will also present a wide variety of biographies and documentaries and give space to a genre that is very important and interesting, but not very present in cinemas and festivals: the medium-length film.

M. P.: How does Villach react to the festival?

F. H.: The feedback from Villach was extremely positive. We have witnessed a significant involvement on the part of the local community, with numerous side initiatives and the active support of city organisations and institutions. The city of Villach has always been a good and reliable partner. It remains to be seen how Villach and its inhabitants will react. The K3 Film Festival is a cultural institution in the town, but it is not as present or as well received as we would like. Of course, there is also no student life in the town, there is no local film industry, a very small group of filmmakers, but K3 is supported by the locals and the last steps to be fully included in the cultural canon of Villach we have to take as a festival.

P. N.: One way to achieve this is to initiate as many partnerships as possible and involve as many people as possible. But it is not only up to us, the city of Villach must also play a more active role as sponsor.

M. P.: Let’s go back in time. Fritz, how did the idea of founding the K3 Film Festival come about?

F. H.: The idea to found the K3 Film Festival came from my passion for short films and then from the desire to create a cultural bridge between the regions of Carinthia, Slovenia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. I wished for a festival that would celebrate cultural diversity through the universal language of cinema.

P. N.: It was an ambitious idea that has evolved over the years, finding its own peculiarity that makes K3 unique: in addition to the criteria strictly related to the 3 neighbouring regions, the other highlight is the open discussion to elect the winner of the audience award at K3. Every viewer can become a judge and fight, always starting with the positive points, for his or her favourite film, so the directors present can also understand the viewers’ key to interpreting their film – every point of view is unique!

M. P.: What are the main difficulties when starting such a project?

F. H.: The basis must be proper: timing, alignment and location, everything else follows, it is hard work and requires perseverance.

P. N.: The constant challenge is to keep the festival interesting and present, and to make it grow slowly but steadily. When the time comes for a big decision… you have to be ready.

M. P.: How important are film festivals today as a political and social means, especially at a time when streaming platforms are part of everyday life?

F. H.: Film festivals play a central role in providing a platform for cultural diversity and artistic expression. They are places where local stories can intertwine with global ones, contributing to a deeper understanding of the challenges and joys we share as a society. And above all, only at festivals are there interpersonal, face-to-face interactions, a great advantage in spite of regular cinema, or even streaming.

P. N.: Exactly. In an era in which streaming platforms play a central role, festivals offer a more collective film experience, promoting the sharing of ideas and the building of new cultural and working bridges.

M. P.: One last question: cinema for you is…?

F. H.: For me, cinema is like a womb; a space in the dark surrounded by new sensations. Afterwards you come out reborn, you are a new person, with new experiences. First you lose yourself, then you find yourself. That’s cinema for me.

P. N.: I fully agree. Cinema is an experience that takes you, for a couple of hours, into the mind of a screenwriter and a director. It is a universal language that in the case of short films is full of innovation and dynamism! It is a Gesamtkunstwerk that only a few genres of art can create.

Info: the website of the K3 Film Festival