Diagonale gets more interactive
by Bénédicte Prot
As every year since 1998, the pretty Austrian city of Graz is marking the return of spring by becoming the capital of national cinema for one week with the festival Diagonale (March 22-27). Headed by Barbara Pichler, this dynamic event promoting dialogue welcomes about 1,300 accredited professionals and 25,000 viewers every year.
During this edition, the four participating cinemas will screen 183 films and videos, including 39 in world avant-premiere. At tomorrow’s opening gala ceremony, Senta Berger will receive the Diagonale Grand Prize for Acting.
Three narrative features will be shown in world avant-premiere in the main programme. Peter Kern’s Mörderschwestern, starring Helmut Berger, promises to cause a stir. This interactive film, loosely based on some murders committed by nurses in a Vienna hospital, turns the audience into murderers by giving them the chance to decide who lives or dies by pressing a button.
Meanwhile, Georg Tiller’s Persona Beach offers a virtual continuation of Ingmar Bergman’s life by exploring Fårö Island. Ludwig Wüst’s TAPE END uses minimalism to play with the actors’ limits.
Austrian audiences will also have a chance to discover Richard Wilhelmer’s Adams Ende and two titles selected at Berlin: Johannes Hammel’s Follow Me (Berlinale Forum), a superb, black-and-white cinematic collage on the life of a family; and Marie Kreutzer’s The Fatherless [+see also:
film profile] (Panorama), a pastoral tale about the reunion between some adult brothers and sisters after the death of their hippie father who was both generous and selfish.
Documentaries, a favourite genre in Austrian cinema, will take pride of place with about 15 new titles including the latest by Nikolaus Geyrhalter (Our Daily Bread [+see also:
film profile]), Abendland, which travels across Europe by night to discover the underside of the western world.
A panorama of 21 titles released on screens this year will give festival-goers a taste of the variety of Austrian production, with highlights including Erwin Wagenhofer’s Black Brown White; Wolfgang Murnberger’s My Best Enemy [+see also:
film profile], starring Moritz Bleibtreu and Georg Friedrich as a Nazi/Jewish duo (see review); and Die Unabsichtliche Entführung der Frau Elfriede Ott by Andreas Prochaska (the popular director of the two Dead In 3 Days [+see also:
film profile] instalments).
Other festival sections will focus on shorts, experimental and animated films, and international co-productions with Austrian backing (Spectrum). This year’s retrospective is dedicated to Viennese director Peter Tscherkassky and this year’s homage to DoP Elfi Mikesch. The latter coincides well with this edition’s special focus on women, from the pioneers of Austrian cinema to explorers of animation.
Rounding off the programme are numerous discussions, workshops, parallel events, and industry meetings. The awards (worth a total of €150,000) will be presented at a ceremony on March 26 at the Orpheum.
(Translated from French)
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