46th Viennale

Austria, October 17 - October 29 2008

The jury

Diego Lerer (Argentina), Norman Wilner (Canada), Neil Young (UK), Markus Keuschnigg ()

Awarded films

Compared to certain other events on the fall calendar, the Vienna International Film Festival is a rather modest undertaking, taking up just five of the city’s screens and concentrating on salutes to figures that could fairly be described as “cultish”, such as Bob Dylan and the Portuguese director Miguel Gomes.

But one could easily argue that this simply means the Viennale has its priorities straight: It’s not worried about attracting big stars or glossy Hollywood premieres; it’s more interested in compiling the finest new cinema from all over the world for a grateful Austrian audience.

Viennale is a celebration of cinema, not marketing: While London was gearing up for the royal gala premiere of the new James Bond movie, Vienna was winding down with Ari Folman’s daring animated documentary Waltz with Bashir — still generating conversation fully five months after its Cannes debut.

In addition to the Dylan and Gomes salutes, special programs at Vienna included tributes to German New Wave director Werner Schroeter, Stadtkino head Franz Schwartz, avant-garde director John Gianvito (Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind) and actress Nora Gregor, and a special screening of comedies dedicated to the memory of Manny Farber.

But perhaps the most important retrospective was Los Angeles: A City in Film, a series of cinematic resurrections curated by director Thom Andersen from nearly a century of L.A.-centric filmmaking. Viennese audiences queued up at the city’s Filmmuseum to see the likes of Ulmer’s Detour, de Toth’s Crime Wave and Norton’s Cisco Pike on the silver screen for the first time in decades.

And as for Bob Dylan, well, he was not there. (Norman Wilner)