Country Focus: Austria
Admissions to local films rose threefold in 2008
by Harald Olkus
- Austria has discovered its local films. In 2008, three times as many Austrians went to see a domestic film than the year before. The market share of local films rose from 1.9% to over 6%. In comparison with other European countries, admissions to domestic films are traditionally low in Austria.
One box office hit is the still running Echte Wiener – Die Sackbauer Saga [+see also:
film profile], a film constructed around a Viennese archetype and inspired by a former television series. Also successful were the Oscar-winning The Counterfeiters [+see also:
film profile]; Falco [+see also:
film profile], about the charismatic pop star who died young; mountain drama North Face [+see also:
film profile]; and even the documentary Let’s Make Money.
While total admissions plateauing at approximately 15.7 million and audiences’ interest in international productions diminishing, Austrian films are successful as never before. For the Austrian Film Institute (AFI), this achievement is due to the diversity and authenticity of the stories and their ability to move viewers.
However, better funding is necessary to maintain this success. As in neighbouring Germany, broadcasters’ contribution to film funding is being criticized. The AFI stresses that the current situation is strengthening Austrian identity and is therefore demanding an expansion of the treaty that regulates film funding by state television. The AFI considers an increase from €5.9m to €10m annually from television as “overdue”.
In times of crisis, investment in growing markets like film is necessary, according to the AFI. Film is a cultural product with an enormous return on investment and Austrian cinemagoers are longing for something that strengthens their identity.