Viennale 2012: A City Goes to the Movies

For two weeks out of the year, everyone is a film expert: The schedule is impossibly tight and events are packed. But the frenzy is warranted... Dim the lights, it’s time for cinema

Top Stories | Margaret Childs | November 2012

A favourite venue: the Gartenbaukino (Photo: Alexander Tuma)

Now in its 50th year, organiser Hans Hurch calls the Viennale "a festival at eye-level", and despite annual adaptations of venues and programme, in essence it’s a constant. This is an event that "doesn’t serve anything or anyone," Hurch says.

It is its own reason for being. Proof lies in the city’s undying enthusiasm for the Viennale and the growing crowds at the screenings and side events. Premieres, gala evenings, tributes, book presentations, debates, and the festival’s new category "in focus", keep Vienna’s cinephiles very busy for two full weeks.


All-star cast

On 26 October is the Gala "Tribute to Michael Caine" at the Gartenbaukino, where, at his own request, there will be a screening of the 1972 murder mystery Sleuth, in a new and remastered version.

Another gala evening will be dedicated to the Austrian photographer and cameraman Wolf Suschitzky, who just turned 100. It will include a screening of the 1971 film Get Carter, also starring Michael Caine.

You’ll see Patti Smith as executive producer at the premiere of Museum Hours (see also p. 29, "The Scenic Route"), but she has also organised her own kind of event: "An Evening to Remember" takes place on 4 November at the intimate Metro Kino, with tickets only available by lottery; guests should send an email to by 1 November, with your full name and number of tickets.

Next, Austrian filmmaker Peter Kubelka will be presenting his project "Monument Film" at the Gartenbaukino on 27 October, which already wowed viewers in New York and London. There will be screenings of his 1960 film Arnulf Rainer, alongside his modern pendant, Antiphon (2012), although the word "screening" may not do justice to event. Organisers call the project "the best gift" Kubelka could have given them.

There will also be a book presentation of Memories of Vienna by Fritz Lang. It was his 1966 answer to a couple of Parisian film critics who asked about his roots. The event will be at the Festivalzentrum on 28 October.


Take me to the movies

Beginning with the new American commercial release Argo, and ending with L’intervallo, a minimalist European film d’auteur, a display of the scope of genres and moods the festival encompasses.

There will be some 140 full-length films showing, with the ratio of feature films to documentaries about 50:50,  unique to film festivals of this kind. Highlights include Tabu by Miguel Gomes, Après mai by Olivier Assayas, No by Pablo Larrain, and Into the Abyss, by Werner Herzog, among many more. Other films that have been under the radar in the festival community, include Donoma by Djinn Carrénard, Malaventura by Michel Lipkes, and The Unspeakable Act by Dan Sallitt. Also some forgotten gems will be on display, including Killer Joe by William Friedkin and Margaret by Kenneth Lonergan. There will also be a wide selection of short films playing at the various locations.

Over 20 Austrian feature, documentary and short films have been selected for the festival with about half of them by women filmmakers, which is also an exception from the norm, something of which the organisers are very proud.

For a list of screenings and events visit the website:

For past coverage of the Viennale in TVR, see:

2008: "A Feast of Film" and "Viennale: Kino Wien"

2009: "Vienna’s "Ideal" Film Fest" and "Viennale’s Fest & Folk"

2010: "Viennale: An Embarrassment of Riches", "A Morning at the Movies", and "Viennale 2010: The Good the Bad and the Boring"

2011: "Honoured Past, Bold Future" and "Viennale '11: Popcorn and Acquired Tastes"

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