The 45th Viennale started, as lively as it has ever been, in a bright and colorful autumn. Yellow and green autumn leaves have created a rainbow. The picture has not change. Nor there has been a change in the composition or music. Yet, this is the most pleasant welcome everybody receives. It reminds me of 15 years ago when I went to see the Viennale for the first time in 1993. The Iranian film Nargess and its director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad and the film's leading actress Farimah Farjami were there. Farjami's unique performance had fascinated everybody. These 45 years with the same music are reminiscent of all of those films and their stars and directors. In those years, Farabi Cinema Foundation also sponsored a small festival of Iranian films in Vienna. It showed the fresh face of the Iranian cinema. In the next years, Iranian films were always there and this went on until four years ago.
Fifteen years have passed since then and Viennale has featured retrospectives of films by Bahram Baizai as well as Ebrahim Mokhtari's Zinat, Jafar Panahi's The Circle and The Crimson Gold as well as other films by other directors. I have grown 15 years older in the meantime. But I still believe that watching the treasures of cinema will keep me young like a joyful child. I am always young enough to watch films.
Viennale is the most important cinema event of Austria; old and magnificent and at the same time simple. It is an important event among German-speaking countries' film festivals. The films are carefully selected and many of them have their first screening in Austria. They usually represent a juncture of a filmmaker's career or a country's film history. The event's main privilege is that it is not a competitive event. FIPRESCI, the Vienna Municipality and the Standard daily offer prizes to the films they choose as the best.
Viennale has had a good reputation in recent years and major film directors want to have their films premiered there. In Viennale 2007, some 300 films were screened within 12 days for 92,000 spectators with 126 screenings out of 321, going full house. The festival had six sections including short films, documentary films, feature films, poetic films, special screening and “A Tribute to Jane Fonda”...