Austrians Rule On The Lido
Austria may be a small country but it sure has a booming film industry. Think Haneke, Waltz, Ruzowitzky and the four Oscars – and many Golden Globes – they won. Or better yet: think not. Because at the Venice film festival other Austrian names and their films are causing a stir among journalists and jury members.
Directing enfant terrible Ulrich Seidl is back with the documentary Im Keller (In The Basement). And yes, the title refers to the underbelly of society and human behavior. Seidl won awards for his last works, the trilogy Paradise: Love, Paradise: Faith and Paradise: Hope. In Venice alone he got three special jury awards. “My films are always controversial” he said “But I like that. A film is supposed to move you and leave you in a different state after you’ve seen it. If it doesn’t do that, what’s the point?”
His films are co-written and co-produced by his wife Veronika Franz. But Franz is busy this time with her own film Ich Seh Ich Seh (Goodnight Mommy). The horror drama about a mother and her ten-year old twin boys is Veronika’s directorial debut which she shares with Severin Fiala. The directing duo got rave reviews at the festival, as did Seidl. There won’t be any competition for the talented couple, though. The films screened in two different competitions. “There I was hoping we’d be getting into Locarno and here we are in Venice !” a delighted Franz said. Actress Susanne Wuest who plays the mother in Ich Seh Ich Seh created fan hysteria during her photo shoot on the beach. She also looked especially glamorous on the red carpet.
Elias and Lukas Schwarz who play her sons acted like pros. Not only on screen but also at the festival press conference. Asked if they would like to continue acting, the precocious youngsters stated : “Sure. If the right offer comes along.”
The filmmakers’ success did not go unnoticed by the Austrian cultural minister Josef Ostermayer who flew from Vienna to Venice for the day to meet with Seidl and attend the premiere of the Franz/Fiala movie. “I have been to Berlin, Cannes and Venice this year and – unlike the Germans – we had films everywhere!” Ostermayer proudly stated. The Austrian government subsidizes films through the Austrian Film Fund.
Seidl, Franz, Fiala and their actors went on to celebrate at the lovely osteria Antica Locanda Montin until the wee hours of the morning.
Elisabeth Sereda [gallery:3410]