53rd Viennale – Vienna International Film Festival
Austria, October 22 - November 5 2015
Having been in existence for more than half a century, the film festival in Vienna knows how to combine the practical with the pleasant, the classic with the experimental, fiction with documentary. But above all, it is flexible and approachable. Suffice it to say that the first screenings at the Viennale start at 6:30 AM to accommodate viewers whose schedule is dictated by working office hours. The last show starts just before midnight, to fit the schedules of those working the afternoon shift. The program of the festival was also put together with variety in mind: devotees of Peter Tscherkassky’s avant-garde films were crossing paths with Woody Allen’s fans, those who love classic documentaries can share a conversation and a coffee with sci-fi lovers. The opening film was the elegant oeuvre by Todd Haynes – Carol with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara – while the closing film was Anomalisa by the eccentric helmer Charlie Kaufman.
While open to different genres, styles and tastes, the Viennale is very clearly structured. The films in the main selection fall under two categories: fiction and documentaries. These are accompanied by many interesting sidebar sections and retrospectives. This year, for example, the festival put together with the local Film Museum a retrospective of animal films, a section of Austrian pulp cinema, a contemporary Greek cinema retrospective, a tribute to the young Uruguayan artist Federico Veiroj, an Ida Lupino retrospective and many more. What is interesting in the festival program is the fact that every film has to be invited by the selection team – there are no call for entries. That means that the programmers can fit the program to their audience’s tastes and each year’s production. It also means that being invited to the Viennale is a staple of quality and a reason to be proud for lucky filmmakers. This year the festival hosted many interesting guests, including the legendary actress Tippi Hedren, who presented Marnie and Birds.
“As in previous years, the Viennale was once again special proof of the diversity and quality of Austrian and international cinema,” said the Viennale’s director Hans Hurch in a press release. “The fact that the number of visitors can’t be increased arbitrarily from year to year probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone. We do, however, consider it important to continue developing the Viennale’s distinctive feature of being a city and audience festival and an internationally acclaimed film event at the same time.” (Ola Salwa, edited by Yael Shuv)
Viennale – Vienna International Film Festival: www.viennale.at