Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Viennale - Viennale International Film Festival

We're well into October by now which not only means that my birthday is approaching and the weather is getting crappier by the day. The most important thing going on at the moment is the Viennale - Viennale International Film Festival - a definite highlight here when it comes to movies. While I still think that the crossing europe film festival that takes place in Linz each April is the better festival the Viennale is still a great time to be in Vienna. On the day they started selling tickets, Saturday - October 10th, I got up at 10 a.m. to buy the tickets for the 10 movies I wanted to see. Unfortunately one of them has been canceled and the replacement flick doesn't sound too interesting so all in all I'll see 9 movies until the festival ends on October, 31st. While 9 movies in 2 weeks might sound a lot it's nothing compared to the 19 films I saw during this year's crossing europe which lasted 5 days. :-)

Up to now I saw 4 films with three of them being extremely good and one being mediocre. The mediocre one was called "Cocalero" and it's basically a documentary that followed Evo Morales, now president of Bolivian, during the last few weeks of his electoral campaign in 2005. I can't really pinpoint why I didn't like the film that much but I guess it's related to the fact that I spent 2 weeks in Bolivia in summer 2005. Therefore the film didn't really offer me any new insight into the country or person as I was basically aware of what was going on at the time.

The first movie I had seen was "Monkey Warfare" by Canadian director Reginald Harkema and IMDB sums up its story in this sentence: "Two ex-revolutionaries living underground have their lives turned upside down by a sexy young radical who goes from smashing SUVs to fighting gentrification with firebombs." It was an extremely good movie and I especially loved the performance by the main characters. Plus during the discussion before and after the movie the director offered to trade a copy of the soundtrack for some green beans which of course resulted in lots of laughter from the audience.

The third movie I saw was a German production called "Am Ende kommen Touristen". The main character is a young German guy who comes to Auschwitz, Poland to work there as part of his compulsory social-service (which is the alternative to military service in Austria and Germany). It's an interesting insight into his personal experience there, especially in dealing with a Holocaust survivor and a Polish girl who works in Auschwitz as a guide. Additionally it's also a look at the people who live close to a place with such a horrible historic burden. Again the main character's performance was absolutely amazing and I think all in all the film is amongst the best German productions I've ever seen.

The last film which I saw yesterday evening was a documentary from Argentina called "M". Here's what the Viennale website has to say about it:

"Director Nicolás Prividera searches for answers as a documentarian, as an Argentinean, and as a son in this unflinching look at a nation's painful history. M follows Prividera as he searches for answers as to why his mother became one of Argentina's infamous «disappeared» when he was six years old. Confronting the political militancy that swallowed up his nation in the Seventies, as well as his own unresolved confusion and rage over the loss of his mother, Prividera interviews family, friends, and comrades with open desperation about long-held questions for which no satisfying answers may exist."

While it took a while for me to get into the documentary I liked every second of its 150 minutes. It's an extremely personal and therefore very touching work. At the same time it also manages to look at the issue of the disappeared in a broader social and historic context. That combination makes it a very powerful piece of art. Even though the movie finished at 11.30 p.m. most people stayed another 30 minutes to listen to the interesting discussion with Nicolás Prividera himself.

All in all I'm very happy with the movies I've seen so far and I can't wait to get back to the cinema on Friday evening to watch the next one...

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