FROM ÖSTERREICHISCHE FILMTAGEN TO DIAGONALE
The Österreichische Filmtage festival was founded in 1977 in Velden by a group of filmmakers (including Gerald Kargl and Horst Dieter Sihler) with the aim of giving the Austrian film scene a new direction and promoting the establishment of a national film funding regime. From 1984 to 1996, the Österreichische Filmtage took place in Wels under the leadership of Reinhard Pyrker. As of 1998, this most important festival for the Austrian film sector moved to Graz under the direction of Christine Dollhofer and Konstantin Wulff under its new name of Diagonale Festival des österreichischen Films. In 2003, when the successful leadership team was dismissed by the FPÖ-ÖVP coalition government, the entire Austrian film scene unanimously opposed the newly appointed heads and their programme. They had to withdraw, and the festival was continued in line with the intentions of the creative sector under the name of Gegen Diagonale in 2004. In recent years, under the leadership of Barbara Pichler and her ambitious programme, the Diagonale festival has opened up, transforming from an exclusive industry festival to one that includes the general audience.
Diagonale is headed by Sebastian Höglinger und Peter Schernhuber since 2015 with an innovative and cross disciplinary focus.
In 1960, a group of committed film journalists initiated an Internationale Festwoche der interessantesten Filme der Jahres 1959 without any public funding, thus laying the foundation for the Viennale festival. In subsequent years the festival was held under the name Festival der Heiterkeit - a name designed to help it garner recognition - under the leadership of Sigmund Kennedy and Edwin Zbonek. In the late 1960s, film retrospectives organised by the Wiener Filmmuseum were integrated in the festival in order to extend the scope of funding and the programme. In the early 1980s, under the leadership of Helmut Dimko, the Viennale was given a novel, forward-looking format. Some temporary highlights in the festival programme were provided by the leadership of Werner Herzog, who organised under the leitmotif of ‘cinema as a magical place’ and particularly by Wolfgang Ainberger and Alexander Horwath, who opened the festival towards the USA and genre films. Festival director, 1997 – 2017, Hans Hurch switched the main festival cinema to the centrally located Gartenbaukino, lending it a more special event character, heightening the festival’s profile and popularity in Vienna, and establishing it as a “must” in Vienna’s cultural calendar. Since 2002 the Viennale, with support from the city, has turned the Gartenbaukino into the country’s premiere location for film openings. Since 2005 the yearly number of visitors to major and minor film showings and side events in various cinemas and venues has reached over 80.000. Hans Hurch and team were able to popularize political films and especially documentary film in the city. Eva Sangiorgi who took up the position of festival director upon Hans Hurch’s untimely death in 2018, focuses especially on the interaction of film and modern art.
This queer film festival was set up in Vienna in 1994, initially within the context of the Viennale. In 2004 “Identities” opened at three venues, receiving funding from the City of Vienna and the federal authorities. Under the successful and ambitious leadership of Barbara Reumüller, the festival became the second largest film event in Vienna. In 2019, the festival was forced to close its portals because of cuts in funding.
Christine Dollhofer has been directing this film festival in Linz since 2004. It is devoted to contemporary and socio-politically engaged European cinema.
Thirty years ago, the mobile VOLXkino and KINO UNTER STERNEN were forerunners in recognizing the increasing importance of festivals for grassroots culture. A great number of festivals and outdoor summer cinemas have since developed in all the country’s major cities. Their programmes are devoted to particular areas of national film culture, specific forms, social and political groupings or thematic focal points: eg. Tricky Women, an international women’s animation film festival in Vienna; FRAMEOUT , digital film, Vienna; Cine Latino Vienna, FrauenFilmTage, Vienna; Jewish Film Festival Vienna; JOUKI, an international youth media festival in Wels, Bergfilmfestival, Salzburg, Heimatfilmfestival, Freistadt, Alpinale, Nenzing, International Human Rights Film Festival, Vienna; Politfilmfestival, Innsbruck; K3 Crossing Border Film Festival, Villach; Ethnocineca, international documentary films, Vienna, dot, dot, dot, short films, Vienna, International Childrens’ Film Festival, Vienna, Let’s CEE, middle and Eastern European films. In 2019 after closing of KINO UNTER STERNEN, Kaleidescope, curated by a four-person collective will try their luck on Karlsplatz. The need of increased public funding for festival budgets remains unchanged.