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Christine Dollhofer • Festival Director

Crossing Europe to European Cultural Capital and beyond

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- Christine Dollhofer Linz Crossing Europe F.F.

Christine Dollhofer • Festival Director

Christine Dollhofer was artistic director of Diagonale, the Austrian national film festival, until 2003, when its host city Graz became the European Cultural Capital (ECC). At Diagonale, she offered a programme of innovative and eccentric titles from all over Europe. In 2004 she was invited to create a contemporary film festival between Viennale and Graz and thus the Linz Crossing Europe Film Festival was born. Its first edition drew 8,000 visitors and this year the festival registered 16,000 admissions.

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Cineuropa: How did you start the festival? It is a big item in the budget of a city the size of Linz.
Christine Dollhofer: It was hard to convince the political bodies to finance us. But with Linz chosen as ECC for 2009, we managed to get a budget, although a low one. Currently, it is €400,000, most of which comes from the city, the regional and the state departments of culture, the Austrian Film Institute and the MEDIA Programme. We have 44 donors and sponsors and 20 co-operation and media partners. Box office is part of our financing but is far from able to recoup the budget.

What are the festival’s selection criteria and who selects the films?
Christine Dollhofer: The competition comprises first or second films by young, up-and-coming directors who show a new and sometimes eccentric approach. I am also the selector, and I practically "control" all the sections. For sidebar programmes, we have advisors and curators and friends who recommend films, but I see all of them and discuss it with them. Having a selection committee also requires time and money.

Half of the films in this year's competition were directed by women, and at the last three festivals the winning films were by female directors.
As you select from low-budget European feature films and from among first or second films you will find a lot of female directors. Among high-budget film and the “masterclass” generation you’ll find only a few. There is certainly a connection between gender mechanisms and the film business, as in all parts of our society. I’m happy to find so many great directors of both sexes. It’s a coincidence that the juries chose as winning films those directed by women, but I appreciate the results, which emphasize the strong female talent in the film business.

What do you expect of the next edition, which will be a part of Linz 09 as ECC? Do you expect to have tourists among your audience and are you planning something special?
First of all, of course I expect greater attention for Crossing Europe in Austria and abroad, as a platform for the enhancement of intercultural exchange. Also, I expect stronger collaborations with Linz 09 in terms of financing, programming and marketing and promotional activities. The profile will be the same, but we are planning some special programmes and will extend the festival by one day. It doesn’t make sense to invent new sections and eliminate them in 2010. The main goal is to establish the festival as an indispensable event for the future.

Since 2004, Crossing Europe has been working under the motto “European host in the film field” and I think we’ve already been very successful ambassadors for the city of Linz. A lot of our guests came to Linz for the first time, liked the city a lot and are willing to come back. Of course, we hope to motivate new audiences as a result of the exceptional events of 2009.

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