The competition is separated into five sections: Fiction & Documentary contains a selection of international narrative and documentary shorts, whereas Animation Avantgarde features international innovative short animation films. The National Competition is conceived as a showcase of current Austrian short film-making, no matter if fiction, animation or documentary. 2013 also brought the creation of a new competition, Screensessions, debuting the Austrian music video award. VR the World—Virtual Reality & 360° Film Competition is our newest competition segment that challenges our most basic conceptions and ideas about visual language, storytelling, participation and voyeurism.
Twenty-nine films, nineteen countries, nine hours: in six program segments, the international competition for live-action and documentary shorts—Fiction & Documentary for short—presents high-caliber new discoveries and acclaimed masterpieces from Cannes, Rotterdam, and Sundance. All selected films—chosen from a total of 2,900 submissions for this competition this year—make their Austrian debut at VIS.
It makes us particularly happy, not least because of international debates about the unequal treatment of women and men in the film industry and at festivals, is that more than sixty percent of this year’s competition entries were directed by women. Most of the works are from Europe, especially France and Switzerland; the ten non-European productions are from Malaysia, the Philippines, Iran, Israel, the United States, Russia, and Canada.
We thank all filmmakers who have given us their trust by submitting their films to Fiction & Documentary. Special thanks go to our preselection screening team, who have supported us for months with great curiosity, conviction, and tireless professionalism in our search for new competition gems.
These six competition segments—all named after famous songs—invite you to sharpen your senses, question your own truths, live you through strange times, explore the glue that holds relationships together, let your bodies talk, and always embark on quests for new beginnings. Films, no matter if they’re short or long, need one thing above all: a curious, open-minded, and enthusiastic audience. (db)
Doris Bauer (db) & Marija Milovanovic (mm)
Daniel Ebner (de), Wouter Jansen, Christof Kurzmann, Diana Mereoiu
Since 2010, Animation Avantgarde has been pursuing the idea of placing experimental and animation films (as well as videos and digital works) in dialog with each other, thereby focusing on works that avoid the beaten path. We seek out innovative works, and innovation is possible anywhere, not only in the realm of experimental cinema (which has in part created its own clichés) but also in narrative filmmaking. What was striking about this year's submissions was that we received several longer works. It seems that animation has become more self-confident and is now daring to take up more space for itself-and therefore, we will be showing 24 films this year instead of 31, like last year.
The spirit of the time is depicted in films such as The Fall by Boris Labbé, in which humanity is steering toward apocalypse, or the music video paris by Billy Roisz, where Guro Skumsnes Moe speaks for us all when she yells, “I like the anger!” A highlight of this festival year is without a doubt Niki Lindroth von Bahr's The Burden, in which figures dance and sing in the face of pretty bleak scenarios. Humor, after all, is a suitable means to cope with the worst—as Nikita Diakur's Ugly attests, in which the world is coming apart at the seams. The two longest films in the program masterfully push the boundaries of animation’s potential: Solar Walk by Réka Bucsi and Don Hertzfeldt's World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People's Thoughts. The stars of the international scene are joined by equally exciting works by lesser-known artists. Come and enjoy! (tr)
Thomas Renoldner (tr) & Wiktoria Pelzer (wp)
In cooperation with ASIFA Austria
Austrian short-filmmaking is exciting, diverse, and adventurous. Each year, new high-quality submissions attest to this. VIS has been providing an international platform to Austrian filmmakers for years, inviting audiences to discover domestic exponents of the short form, and making these films visible well beyond Austrian borders. The four competition programs give a concise overview of the most recent productions, offering both famous names and new discoveries.
Traditionally, the National Competition mixes genres, placing fictional films alongside experiments, documentaries alongside animations, essays alongside music videos. This year, a total of seventeen films were chosen from almost 400 submitted works. The films of nine female and ten male directors (including two codirectors), most of which were created in an artistic, academic, or independent context, are roughly grouped under four themes. This is why the programs’ titles-loosely based on the films’ contents-are Way of Life, Distance, Flying High, and Self-Portrait.
All this year’s submissions masterfully translate moods into images and are formally brave and compelling. Life realities are investigated, personal stories told, and political scandals recounted; we are invited to think, to marvel, and to smile. Along with numerous world premieres, several works in this selection have already won awards and prizes. (av)
Alexandra Valent (av) & Gregor Hochrieser (gh)
Daniel Ebner, Franka Giesemann
Presented by orf.at
The Screensessions—for their sixth year in a row—focus once again on liberating the music video from the small screen of our everyday lives and putting them on the big screen to pay them their due respect. As an autonomous art form that is easily on par with more conventional short-film formats, music videos are a creative playground for musicians and filmmakers alike. Their free form and compact length go far beyond merely serving the purpose of advertising the visualized songs. Their techniques and aesthetics are as varied as their genres. They are thus able to either exactly reflect the music in images or be a clever antithesis to it by giving the sonic and visual levels a life of their own, replete with unique dynamics.
The national and international music video program provides a cross section of last year’s artistic activity in this field. The selection ranges from detailed performance videos and flashy animations to classical narratives and forge a bridge between the different approaches by consolidating them in this program package. The Screensessions concept also provides that one of the nominated bands perform an exclusive concert: This year, we have the successful Salzburg-based band MYNTH to look forward to, who will play an audiovisual show in the Historische Saal of the METRO Kinokulturhaus. (ce)
Christoph Etzlsdorfer (ce) & Verena Klöckl (vk)
Marco Celeghin, Daniel Ebner, Samira Saad
Presented by the gap
VR—a medium that cried wolf quite a while ago. After the initial (failed) promise in the 1990s and a slower-than-expected recent revival, one began to wonder: Is the medium the message? Is there any message at all?
This is exactly what we set out to understand through this new competition, VR the World. We were keen on finding more than a gimmick, more than the game-something that went beyond marketing and sensation mongering. And so we sought films that challenged our most basic conceptions and ideas about visual language, storytelling, participation and voyeurism. We wanted to see what they might tell us about perception, movement and space, and what they might undo in terms of our expectations of the art of film.
Out of the almost eighty submissions we received for this first edition, eight went on to be selected. Among the filmmakers taken into consideration, it was both nice and intriguing to see a few familiar names, who had competed in previous editions of the festival. An intriguing thread seems to be emerging, and it’s exciting to see where it leads.
The selection process has mainly been one of discovery—while Virtual Reality seems to be on everyone’s lips, 360-degree short films remain treasures to be hunted. Even so, each film submitted in this category has tested and expanded our understanding of the medium and of cinema. For us, it’s about commitment, not just interactivity. It’s about the film, not just the medium. And most of all, it’s about how the two interact in this new constellation. (dm/de)
Diana Mereoiu (dm)
Daniel Ebner (de)
In cooperation with We Are Cinema