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#Diagonale17  #FestivalOfAustrianFilm
Media Release,
April 6, 2017
Anniversary edition underscores significance as a festival for enthusiasts

With 31,200 visitors (2016: 30,200), the Diagonale’17 seamlessly continues its success story and strengthens its position as a regionally rooted festival for enthusiasts, treasured by the industry and audiences beyond Austria’s borders. In its twentieth year in Graz and second year with directors Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber, the Diagonale continues to place its trust in a balance of stability and new impulses, along with increasing cooperation with local initiatives and partners. The festival, which as postulated in the opening speech is a forum of curiosity and exchange, relied this year more than ever on encounter and constructive confrontation in and around the movie theaters: in the framework of the broadly positioned Diagonale Film Meeting, representatives from various sectors and functions illuminated the domestic popularity and potential of Austrian film. Meanwhile, with the support of the new main sponsor Steiermärkische Sparkasse, the new Diagonale im Dialog discussion program has been able to bring illustrious personalities such as Josef Hader, Elisabeth Scharang, Alexander Horwath, Birgit Kohler, Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz, and Veit Heiduschka to festival cinemas for in-depth talks. 

“Our goal in the second year was to stabilize the popularity among the audience, for which we are grateful. We are extremely pleased that interest was even able to increase again slightly. In the best case scenario, a festival is not a loose stringing together of films, but offers narratives that the audience can also actively understand and question. It should create resonances, allow contradictions and correspondences—between the films and beyond the screen. That’s been achieved. The Diagonale also acted as a gathering and meeting point—situated somewhere between discourse and hedonism. As a festival of Austrian film, it functions as mediator between the domestic film landscape and its audience, which uses the exceptional situation of a festival for reading —or in the case of our historical program, re-reading film images. The bottom line: we’re satisfied,” say Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber.

This year’s competition program presented an exciting mix of established and new figures, providing evidence once again of the original tonalities and striking individual styles in Austrian filmmaking—from genre cinema to biopic, from audience favorites to new discoveries. The competition gathered, among others, tales of intercultural cohabitation between global neighborhoods and local borders, grappled under the banner of coming-of-age with youthful quests for identity beyond common cliché roles, and brought socio-politically involved cinema to Graz. Trans-genre short film programs and supporting films took account of the trend towards a merging of the film genres. Thus positioned together in the Diagonale ’17 competition were experimental works, music videos, and feature and documentary films.
Over the course of six days, the Diagonale’17 presented a total of 191 films and videos in the framework of 133 showings in four festival cinemas. The competition included 106 films. In the framework of the Diagonale’17, 63 films were shown for the first time in Graz, and 37 of these celebrated their world premiere. As is tradition, a majority of the directors were personally present at the screenings and accompanying film talks. The Spotlight On series dedicated to Andi Winter marked a highlight. As a “working class” spotlight, the program devoted itself to the supposed second row , as well as Winter’s multidisciplinary work. In the context of a lecture, Winter also provided insight into his working methods as colorist. With the special historical program 1000 Beat Film, the Diagonale’17 successfully searched for influences of pop culture on Austrian film and vice versa. The festival’s In Reference section opened diverse references within the program, which allowed Austrian cinema to enter into dialogue with itself and with chosen international positions. U.S. director Ana Lily Amirpour was a guest at the Diagonale for the second international master class for filmmakers. In an exclusive preview, she presented her new, internationally celebrated genre cinema highlight The Bad Batch in Graz, in advance of its U.S. cinema release.
In the context of the Diagonale, a total of € 195,000 was awarded in prizes. At the awards ceremony held on April 1, among the 17 film prizes presented were the Grand Prizes of the State of Styria endowed with € 21,000 each, for the best Austrian feature film and documentary, and the Diagonale Prize for Innovative Cinema of the City of Graz. Die Liehaberin/A Decent Woman by Lukas Valenta Rinner was honored as the best Austrian Feature Film. Ivette Löcker’s tense family portrait Was uns bindet/Ties That Bind won the Grand Diagonale Prize for Documentary Film. The Innovative Cinema Prize, endowed with € 9,000, was given to Katrina Daschner for Pferdebusen. This year’s Diagonale Acting Prize went to Verena Altenberger for her “extraordinary devotion and fearlessness” in Die beste aller Welten/The Best Of All Worlds and to Philipp Hochmair for his appearance shaped by “pleasurable physicality and sublime character portrayal” in KATER/TOMCAT. Director Adrian Goiginger was honored with the audience prize for his autobiographical, full-length feature film debut Die beste aller Welten/The Best Of All Worlds. Already at the opening, Johannes Krisch was honored with the Grand Diagonale Acting Prize for service to Austrian film culture in the form of an artwork by the photographer Stefanie Moshammer. The Franz Grabner Prize was awarded for the first time in the framework of the Diagonale, in the categories cinema and television documentary film. The award in the category cinema documentary went to Djordje Čenić and Hermann Peseckas for their autobiographical journey through time, Unten. Winning in the category television documentary was Menschen und Mächte – Flucht in die Freiheit by Andreas Pfeifer and Andreas Novak as a “statement against historical amnesia.” The Carl-Mayer- and Thomas Pluch screenplay prizes were also awarded in Graz.
“The outstanding films of the Diagonale’17 attest to Austrian film’s bravery and eagerness to experiment and pay tribute to the striking personal styles and positions that cinema explores in its many varieties—and along the way, break with social and narrative norms. Produced or located between Buenos Aires and Salzburg, they identify the boundlessness of Austrian film. They emphasize diversity as potential: in terms of content, formally, and also on the side of production, as is exemplarily covered by the Prize for Innovative Production Achievements, which went ex aequo to the works Bauer unser, Mister Universo, and WILDE MAUS/WILD MOUSE”, say Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber.
Thanks for showing such great interest; we’re looking forward to seeing you again at the Diagonale’18 in Graz. How nice that you were here!

Your Diagonale Press team
Franz Jud
Matthias K. Heschl
Edith Huemer
Samira Saad 
Festival des
österreichischen Films
Festival of
Austrian Film

Graz, 28. März–
2. April 2017
Büro Wien
Billing Address
Forum österreichischer Film
Rauhensteingasse 5­/5
10­10 Wien, Austria
T +43 (0) 1 595 45 56
F +43 (0) 1 595 45 56-10
Büro Graz
c/o Hotel Weitzer
Grieskai 12–16
8020 Graz, Austria
T +43 (0) 316 82 28 18
F +43 (0) 316 82 28 18-10
Photo: Diagonale/Paul Pibernig

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