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Diagonale 2015 ends with a record number of visitors


Barbara Pichler bids adieu after seven years as director of the Diagonale Film Festival, which had a record 27,300 visitors, closing on March 22 in Graz.

Displaying openness and consistency in the program selection, an insistence on the diverse forms of cinematic expression, and a connection to sociopolitical discourse, Barbara Pichler has successfully repositioned the Festival of Austrian Film over the past seven years. An enormous increase in visitor numbers, no least, attests to this. In addition, the festival has modernized over the years and become increasingly international. As the Pichler era comes to a close, the Diagonale enjoys universal respect as a platform for Austrian film and great international acclaim.

The 18th edition of the Diagonale has once again made Graz the center of Austria’s film world. As always, the festival distinguished itself as an indispensable location for encounter and dialogue between the film branch and audience. With 27,300 visitors enjoying splendid springtime weather, the Diagonale 2015 announces a strong plus in visitor numbers (2014: 25.500). Not only the numerous anxiously awaited premiers proved to be visitor magnets. Also well frequented beyond the cinema halls were workshop talks, panel discussions, the film industry forum, exhibitions, and the nightline.

Through a focused selection, the festival program reflects the range of current Austrian film creation. Diverse, unique, experimental, emerging, and quality are but a few of the terms already used to comment on Diagonale 2015. A total of 157 films were shown this year, 97 of them in the competition program. The program included no fewer than 50 premiers and 25 Austrian premiers; 96 directors were personally present at the screenings.
The retrospective devoted to documentary filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter presented a highlight. And this year’s tribute guest Mia Hansen-Løve advanced as audience favorite. Equally popular with the audience were the special film historical program and the re-discovered TV series Draußen in der Stadt. A strong positive echo also came from the ca. 150 participants in this year’s film industry forum on film financing/film promotion.

Prizes totaling ca. 165,000 euros were awarded within the Diagonale framework. At the awards ceremony, 17 film prizes were presented, including the Grand Prize of the State of Styria, with 21,000 euros each for the best Austrian feature film and feature documentary. Ich seh Ich she/Goodnight Mommy by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala was honored as best Austrian feature film—as the jury states, the film “…has everything, clarity and mystery, psychological drama and horror.” This is the second honor for the directors in the context of the Diagonale 2015, following the Thomas Pluch Special Jury Prize. Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s sensitive long-term observation Über die Jahre/Over the Years, which according to the jury “explores the traces of time in individuals’ lives,” won the Grand Diagonale Documentary Prize. Exhibition Talks by Sasha Pirker and Lotte Schreiber, which the jury praised as a “tactile merging of undeveloped space and the idea of cinema,” won the City of Graz’s Innovative Cinema Prize. This year’s Diagonale Acting Prize in cooperation with VDFS went to Ulrike Beimpold for her role in SUPERWELT/Superworld and to Murathan Muslu for his appearance in Risse im Beton/Cracks in Concrete. Within the context of a separate event, Christian Frosch was honored with the Audience Prize from the Kleinen Zeitung for his feature film Von jetzt an kein Zurück/Rough Road Ahead. Tobias Moretti was honored already at the opening with the Grand Diagonale Acting Award for service to Austrian film culture. A detailed list of all Diagonale film prizes 2015 can be found on our website www.diagonale.at/film-awards/.

The Diagonale 2016 will take place from March 8–13 under the directorship of Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber.

 

Photo: Diagonale 2015 award winners, jury members and award sponsors (c) Diagonale/Martin Stelzl
 

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