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VIENNALE 2021 Awards

Austria’s Great Freedom enjoys a twofold win at the Viennale

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- The national 2022 Academy Awards candidate, helmed by Sebastian Meise, and its compatriot Beatrix have taken home three out of five awards

Austria’s Great Freedom enjoys a twofold win at the Viennale
Great Freedom director Sebastian Meise collecting one of his awards (© Viennale)

The 59th Viennale ended on Sunday 31 October, not only with a screening of The Worst Person in the World [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Joachim Trier
film profile
]
by Joachim Trier at the newly refurbished Gartenbaukino, but also with a pleasant surprise for the Austrian-German co-production Great Freedom [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Sebastian Meise
film profile
]
by Sebastian Meise. The movie, which premiered at the 74th Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section, managed to snatch not only the Vienna Film Award for Best Austrian Movie, but also the Erste Bank MehrWERT Award. The jury backed up its decision by calling it a visually stunning movie, “which asks the big questions – the ones about freedom and love”.

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The Special Award of the Jury went to Beatrix [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
, also an Austrian feature, by directors Milena Czernovsky and Lilith Kraxner. It follows a young woman of the same name, as she grapples with boredom and various chores as a house-sitter. The jury applauded its “cinematographic sensibility and intimacy” as it elevates the banal, day-to-day activities of its protagonist.

The Serbian production Celts [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Milica Tomovic
film profile
]
by Milica Tomović bagged the Viennale Award of the DER STANDARD Reader Jury. The plot, set in Belgrade in 1993, deals with a couple’s preparations for their daughter’s birthday, while the Yugoslav War is raging all around them. The FIPRESCI Jury handed its award to the Italian-Argentinian-French co-production The Tale of King Crab [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alessio Rigo de Righi and M…
film profile
]
by Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis. The movie follows a drunkard called Luciano, who escapes from Italy to Argentina at the turn of the century, where he hunts for a treasure buried in a secret mountain lake.

Running for 11 days from 21-31 October, the slightly shortened festival boasted a capacity of 74% and welcomed 58,200 visitors in total, as Viennale director Eva Sangiorgi happily reported. Indeed, the 2021 edition “exceeded her expectations”. Of the 250 screenings, 140 included Q&As with guests such as Matt Dillon, Mia Hansen-Løve, Andrea Arnold, Mathieu Amalric, Sean Baker, Bruno Dumont, Nadav Lapid, Maria Speth and Abel Ferrara.

This year’s “monography” was dedicated to British directing legend Terence Davies, who was not only in attendance, but also held a scriptwriting workshop. The director further announced that his next movie would be shot in Austria. The retrospective was dedicated to Austrian-American filmmaker and curator Amos Vogel, the co-founder of the New York Film Festival, amongst others. Six curators from around the world were invited to select a programme that would reflect Vogel’s idea of film as a subversive art, enriched by aesthetic, social and political activism.

At the Viennale Bar, the directors of the Berlin International Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival and San Sebastián International Film Festival, together with Sangiorgi, discussed the current role of film festivals and their imminent future.

Here is the full list of award winners:

Vienna Film Award

Best Austrian Movie
Great Freedom [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Sebastian Meise
film profile
]
- Sebastian Meise (Austria/Germany)

Special Award of the Jury
Beatrix [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
- Milena Czernovsky, Lilith Kraxner (Austria)

Viennale Award of the DER STANDARD Reader Jury
Celts [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Milica Tomovic
film profile
]
- Milica Tomović (Serbia)

FIPRESCI Award
The Tale of King Crab [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alessio Rigo de Righi and M…
film profile
]
- Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matteo Zoppis (Italy/Argentina/France)

Erste Bank MehrWERT Award
Great Freedom - Sebastian Meise

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