The Diagonale gets under way
by Michael Pattison
- The rich programme of the 20th edition of one of the most important film festivals in Austria unspools in Graz from 28 March-2 April
Now in its milestone 20th edition, the Diagonale (28 March-2 April), Austria’s annual national film festival, is once again well under way in Graz. With a line-up ranging from new features to retrospectives, from documentaries to dramatic shorts, and always featuring the finest selection of non-narrative films, the event has by now earned its status as one of the few national showcases on the festival circuit that also manages to draw a genuine international interest.
Following a record attendance of 32,200 in 2016, the festival this year kicked off with an emotional screening of Untitled [+see also:
film profile] by the late Michael Glawogger and Monika Willi, before settling into its usual groove. As at previous editions, the Diagonale this year features no fewer than seven juried competitions screened across its six days, including a €15,000 prize for both the feature and the documentary sections. Other competitive sections include fiction shorts, non-fiction shorts and the festival’s reliably high-quality “Innovatives” programme, which focuses on experimental shorts.
This edition, which is the second to be held under the curatorial guidance of Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber, also boasts additional programming sections in the guise of “Spotlight On” and “In Reference”. The former, dedicated to an individual of particular cinematic interest, focuses this year on the versatile Andi Winter, a director, editor, cameraman, colourist, assistant and actor. The latter section, meanwhile, features a range of international co-productions in which Austrian funding played a small part. In addition, there is a retrospective dedicated to Wolfgang Suschitzky, the Austrian cinematographer who died last October at the age of 104.
As one-offs go, however, the highlight at this year’s Diagonale is perhaps its “1000 Beat Film” repertory programme, which traces a rich lineage of Austrian films that have in some way been informed by pop culture – and vice versa. Alongside the traditional film programme, this year’s festival also hosts a two-day industry event, which focuses on the ways in which Austrian cinema can make itself more commercially popular.
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