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DIAGONALE 2018

The Diagonale cooks up a smorgasbord of Austrian film

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- The jam-packed programme of the 21st edition of one of the most important film gatherings in Austria is set to unspool in Graz from 13-18 March

The Diagonale cooks up a smorgasbord of Austrian film
Murer – Anatomie eines Prozesses by Christian Frosch

The Diagonale, which every year presents a selection of films that aim to shed light on the various forms of artistic expression in Austrian filmmaking, covering all genres, formats and lengths, is gearing up to unspool its 21st edition in the city of Graz from 13-18 March, helmed by co-directors Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber. All of the movies included in the main programme, lying “somewhere between surreal mysticism and uncompromising realism”, according to the festival, will be enjoying either their world premiere or their first Austrian screening. 

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The competition comprises 103 films that were picked from among a total of 500 submissions. Altogether, the Diagonale is showing 167 films in 142 screenings. 81 competition films are celebrating their premiere in Graz, with 47 of these also a world premiere. The opening slot has been entrusted to an Austrian-Luxembourgish co-production, the courtroom thriller Murer – Anatomie eines Prozesses [+see also:
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, which will be having its world premiere. Basing his work on the original documents from one of the biggest judicial scandals in the Second Republic, director Christian Frosch traces the case of renowned Styrian politician and large-scale farmer Franz Murer, who from 1941-1943, as the so-called “Butcher of Vilnius”, was reputedly one of the key protagonists in the murder of Jews in what is today the capital of Lithuania. 

Other high-profile titles on the programme of fiction features include festival favourite Western [+see also:
film review
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interview: Jonas Dornbach
interview: Valeska Grisebach
interview: Valeska Grisebach
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]
by Valeska Grisebach, Tehran Taboo [+see also:
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interview: Ali Soozandeh
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]
 by Ali SoozandehMademoiselle Paradis [+see also:
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interview: Barbara Albert
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 by Barbara AlbertLife Guidance [+see also:
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interview: Ruth Mader
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by Ruth Mader, the Cannes-premiered Happy End [+see also:
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Q&A: Michael Haneke
film profile
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 by Michael Haneke, the film within a film Looking for Oum Kulthum [+see also:
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interview: Shirin Neshat
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 by Shirin Neshat, and L’Animale [+see also:
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 by Katharina Mückstein, fresh from Berlin’s Panorama section.

The documentary line-up is equally enticing, including The Waldheim Waltz [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ruth Beckermann
film profile
]
by Ruth Beckermann, which won the Best Documentary Award in the Forum section of this year’s Berlin Film Festival, Anomalie by Richard Wilhelmer, last year’s Viennale and DOK Leipzig title Gwendolyn [+see also:
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 by Ruth KaasererI’m a Bad Guy by Susanne Freund, and Weapon of Choice [+see also:
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 by Fritz Ofner and Eva Hausberger, which investigates the myth and history of a cult object of Austrian invention and a bestseller in the USA: the Glock.

Storied national distributor Filmladen will be in focus to mark its 40th birthday, and as part of this, the Diagonale will shine a spotlight on the early phase of the firm, which began as a consortium of four personalities from the Austrian film industry: founding members Josef Aichholzer, Ruth Beckermann and Franz Grafl, as well as Michael Stejskal, who joined the group a short time after its founding. The films included on this programme comprise several shorts, plus the features Perfumed Nightmare by Kidlat Tahimik (the Philippines, 1977), Malambo by Milan Dor (Austria, 1986), Mourir à tue-tête by Anne Claire Poirier (Canada, 1978) and Salt of the Earth by Herbert Biberman (USA, 1954).

Besides the rich programme of film screenings, a number of workshops, discussions, installations, exhibitions, apprenticeship projects and university specials constitute a key part of the festival. The Diagonale places the emphasis squarely on dialogue about the subject of Austrian filmmaking – for example, through conversations between the director and the audience during Q&As following the screenings. Moreover, there are meetings with film-industry professionals, both Austrian and international, where questions of particular importance to the domestic industry will be fielded. 

Lastly, the Grand Diagonale Prize for Acting, for her lifetime contribution to Austrian film culture, will be presented to 86-year-old thesp Ingrid Burkhard, who most recently appeared in Ronny Trocker’s Venice- and Rotterdam-screened The Eremites [+see also:
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, and Maren Ade’s festival darling Toni Erdmann [+see also:
film review
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Q&A: Maren Ade
film profile
]
.

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