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VIENNALE: Comedy and Catharsis

VIENNALE: Comedy and Catharsis

Vienna is a commodious city for a film festival. Skirting the Ring is the small ensemble of cinemas, coterminous with trams, bicycle- and footpaths, rustling through crisp seasonal mists biding one’s time between films. Just three days into the festival, there was already a lot to take in. The Viennale’s Opening Gala, on 24 October, […]

James Hunt and Niki Lauda: Driven To Excellence

James Hunt and Niki Lauda: Driven To Excellence

“At around 170 mph, this thing’s a bomb on wheels,” future champion James Hunt appreciatively tells his soon-to-be wife as he lovingly strokes his fuel-injected chariot. “Why don’t they make it safer?” she asks.  “The risk of death turns people on.” The past is indeed a strange land, equating motor sport with gladiatorial combat, where […]

Love in the Time of Globalisation

Love in the Time of Globalisation

A woman irons a shirt, telling the camera: “The Austrian Republic dictates how much money I must earn – €1,187 – so my husband can get his residence permit back.” She then tells us the staggering amount of clothes she must press this month to meet this quota. And many are far worse off in […]

Out of Sync

Out of Sync

With all the rave reviews, the film Brokeback Mountain had been a must-see when I finally caught a German-language version in a Vienna cinema. A German-dubbed western is an unsettling experience. Phrases like “I reckon”, and “I just can’t quit you!” spoken in lazy western drawls are more than lost in translation; they are just […]

After World War II: Finding Where I Belong

After World War II: Finding Where I Belong

The eye changes over time: Looking back now 50 years on the manners, conventions, look and style of the 1950s feel like a foreign land: familiar, but very far away. This is the world of Where I Belong, the first feature length film written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Fritz Urschitz. Set in a small […]

When Less is More

When Less is More

Film festivals are fascinating. They tend to uncover the unknowns, promote the unpromotable, putting on display pictures you would rarely see in a fiercely commercial medium. Yet their influence far outweighs their attendance. After all, innovation doesn’t happen in the mainstream, and today’s lunatic fringe may turn out to be tomorrow’s standard. And while Vienna […]

Outdoor Cinephilia

Outdoor Cinephilia

On summer nights, daylight lingers longer – almost begging us to stay outside. But after the sun sets on your dinner, the movie you go to next doesn’t need to take you back indoors. Vienna offers a wide variety of open-air cinema. There are pre-screenings of new films, contemporary, cult and classic movies, and even […]

Going the Extra Mile

Going the Extra Mile

“Wait, I have to give my dog a pig’s ear!” Austria’s Grande Dame of stage and screen, 86-year-old Erni Mangold, says to the driver before getting into the black van. Thus begins Driving the Stars, a documentary film and an intimate peek into the not-so-glamorous side of Austrian show business. Josef Deininger, alias Joschi, is […]

The Man Who Lived at the Café Central

The Man Who Lived at the Café Central

Peter Altenberg was a writer who wore sandals in the snow, chased underage girls, and wrote small works that could reflect an entire world.  Altenberg: The Little Pocket Mirror is a documentary about his life, well worth watching for its beautiful images, its eloquent stumble through modernist and modern day Vienna, and its spotlight on […]

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