Diagonale celebrates its fifteenth spring
by Bénédicte Prot
22/03/2012 - Since 1998, the Diagonale film festival has transformed Graz, the capital of Styria, into the capital of Austrian cinema, with a varied and nuanced exploration of film, in part to attract the media’s attention to the country’s film industry. Its 15th edition, from last Tuesday to March 25, will show 131 productions during 120 screenings in four cinemas, and is expected to draw around 25,000 visitors and 1,300 accredited professionals.
The event’s director, Barbara Pichler, and her team have chosen 100 films in all genres and formats for the main programme, of which 39 will be making their worldwide premiere at the event. The festival opened last Tuesday with Spain [trailer], the first feature film by the director from Vienna, Anja Salomonowitz, a DOR FILM production in which she intertwines several destinies in a story of migration that is both a human and visual journey. Visitors will also be able to see Stillleben by Sebastian Meise, in which a family is suddenly confronted with the fact that the father pays prostitutes to pretend to be his daughter, as well as the new film by Hans Weingartner (The Edukators), Hut in the Woods, a psychological drama about the relationship between a deranged mathematician and a mysterious boy that opened the last Max Ophüls Festival but that has never been screened in its home country.
Austria’s documentary film sector is alive and well, according to the long list of new documentaries to be screened at the festival, including veteran filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Donauspital, and What Is Love by Ruth Mader (selected for the Forum of the last Berlinale).
The documentary Whore's Glory by Michael Glawogger (Workingman’s Death) will however be screened as part of a retrospective on last year. In his award-winning film to be released next month in the United States, the excellent documentary and fiction filmmaker tells several stories of prostitution throughout the world. The retrospective will also include the Cannes film and 2012 Max Ophüls Prize awardee Michael [trailer] by Markus Schleinzer, as well as the superb Atmen [trailer] by Karl Markovics, a film awarded last year in Cannes (read the review) and that was the overall winner of the second Austrian Film Awards with six awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.
Diagonale’s Spotlight this year will be on the celebrated figure of Austrian cinema, Ferry Radax. The festival will end with an awards ceremony, in which the two most important awards are for Best Austrian Fiction Film and Best Austrian Documentary Film, who will each receive €21,000.
(Translated from French)