14th April 2014: Opening of the 1st Austrian Film Week in Kosovo

 

Speech of Ambassador Brieger:

 

Fellow Ambassadors, Aficionados of the moving images,

Dear friends of the Austrian Film! Welcome to the first Austrian Filmweek in Kosovo!

 

As many other foreign Embassies in Prishtina we have traditionally been engaged in supporting the DokuFest for several years now – last year by bringing the Programming Director Katja Wiederspahn from the Viennale Film Fest in Vienna to Prizren, which was a great success and a starting point for strong cooperation between the two institutions. We are therefore particularly pleased to not only have tonight’s venue, the ODA Theatre but also DokuFest with the DokuKino in Prizren as partners on board!

 

But the Austrian Film industry has not only great talents in the Doku scene. It also managed a revival in feature films in the last two decades, after suffering for a long time when Austrian talents were forced to leave the country before and during WW II. Some of them, like Samuel Wilder – or better known as Billy Wilder, became Hollywood icons in their own right. He alone received a total of twenty-one Academy Award nominations and won the Oscars not less than 6 times.

 

Given the recent success the Austrian Film has seen winning a lot of international acclaim and most prestigious prizes of the film industry we had started thinking about staging a week of the Austrian Film in Kosovo. 

 

It became more concrete after I had a long discussion with a good friend, one of Kosova’s own great talents as a Director – many of you know him personally – Mr. Blerim Gjoci, who is – as we speak – further developing his skills in LA. Over a glass of wine Blerim became very enthusiastic about bringing the works of Michael HANEKE, the probably best known contemporary Austrian Film Director to Kosovo. While I understand his keen interest as a director/cinematographer, I was a little bit more skeptical to make the film week a Haneke retrospective only.

 

I am sure that many here today have seen “The Piano Teacher” or other masterpieces of Michael Haneke, in which he takes an often shockingly realistic perspective of human nature. One can also clearly see Michael Haneke’s immense interest into the human psychology moving the spotlight in an often brutally disarming way into the darkest corners of a person’s desires and fears, documenting the unhappiness and personal detachment experienced by individuals in modern society. But they are not necessarily feel good movies.

 

What we, however, tried to do with this week’s program is to broaden the scope and find a balance in complementing his works with two other strong signs of today’s cinematographic talent from Austria: We will thus feature three of Michael Haneke’s great works

- Amour (what we will see tonight and for which he has received not less than 51 awards – amongst them his 2nd Palm d’Or (after “The white Ribbon” in 2009) from the Cannes Film Festival but also a first time Academy Award – the Oscar – for Best Foreign Language Film in 2013).

 

- “The White Ribbon” I mentioned already and

 

- “Caché” from 2005.

 

We will learn a lot more about Michael Haneke and get an insiders’ view in a moment from Norika SEFA, a student from the University of Prishtina focusing on scriptwriting and directing herself who recently was offered a place to further her studies at the film college in Denmark.

 

 

The other movies are:

 

The Counterfeiters – by Stefan Rusowitzky. Awarded an Oscar in 2008 for Best Foreign Language Film it is based on a true story and fictionalizes Operation Bernhard, a secret plan by the Nazis during WWII aimed at destabilizing the United Kingdom by flooding its economy with forged British Pound Notes. The film centers on the Jewish master-Counterfeiter Salomon Sorowitsch, brilliantly played by Karl Markowics, who is coerced into assisting the operation at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. 

 

A truly important movie!

 

 

And Small Fish (Kleine Fische) by Marco Antoniazzi (clearly Austrian!!) He is of course Italian, born in Bolzano, who after the Zelig School in Bolzano continued his studies at the Vienna Film Academy. It is the story of two completely different brothers, who meet again after a long time at the funeral of their father. The rebellious runaway and the shy younger brother who still lives with his parents. They do not only have different ideas about how to modernise the family’s little fish shop, but also how to approach the same girl of course – natural triggers for sibling’s rivalry – a lovely comedy.

 

 

With that I would like to thank our Partners for this week, ODA Theatre and DokuFest and my great team at the Embassy, Monika Zach and Berta Hamza who have put this all together and even organized the after party with drinks and a bit of finger food.

 

I wish you a great time and would now like to invite Norika to tell us more about Michael Haneke!

 

Thank you.

 

Dr.Johann Brieger, MBA

 

 

 

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