March at the Austrian Film Museum

Film and history, history and film, film (hi)stories, filming history, film history: The Film Museum devotes its March program to the myriad expressions of these wordplays as well as their formative influence on cinema and the role of a cinematheque. Huston, Wyler, Capra, Ford, Stevens, Lurf, Lassnig, film documents of daily life during the Nazi era 1932–1941, Driftwood and Diagonale. Here is March as we imagine it:

John Huston | William Wyler
in dialogue with Frank Capra, John Ford & George Stevens

March 2 to April 5, 2018
History can, for example, mean that classical Hollywood directors come into contact with world history. John Huston (1906-1987) and William Wyler (1902-1981) are among the most significant American filmmakers. It has been a long time since the Film Museum has last paid appropriate tribute to their films. Their work and life were profoundly marked by the experiences ofWorld War II and their filmic contributions to the U.S. Army’s war effort. We will show selected films by these directors in dialogue with three of their contemporaries: Frank Capra, John Ford and George Stevens.

Films made during the war are as essential to our retrospective as those made before and after the U.S. involvement in World War II. This combination shows the mastery of filmmakers like Huston and Wyler across the genres, while allowing for values the likes of honesty and courage to emerge among the humanist principles they uphold.

John Ford was the first to join the War Department, followed by Wyler, Huston, Stevens and Capra. The war documents made by Wyler, Ford and Huston amount to nothing less than pinnacles of cinema. All five returned to the studio system after the war, a world whose ethical, aesthetic and social norms had been completely shattered. Our retrospective strives to make this turning point visible.
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In Person: Johann Lurf
March 8 to 11, 2018
Speaking of film history, turning points of an entirely different kind are provided by the Austrian avant-garde shooting star Johann Lurf. The “star” bit is a good cue, as Lurf’s latest and most extensive work so far, ★ (2017), demonstrates just such an engagement with film history: Atranscendental and trancelike gaze at the starry sky of cinema. Here the meandering, at timesmischievous gesture of the cineaste meets formalist rigor in a string of simultaneous and contrasting movements, a characteristic of many of the artist’s works.

The Film Museum will pay tribute to Johann Lurf with an In Person program together with a Carte blanche including a number of rare and exceptional short films. We will show all of Lurf’s works for the cinema, many in rarely seen 3D versions. An exhibition of Lurf’s graphic work and photographs as well as his installative Ameisenkino will be presented in the foyer of the Film Museum. The filmmaker will be present at all screenings and available for audience Q&As.
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Maria Lassnig: Films in progress
April 5, 2018
Another worldwide outstanding position caught between art and film history originating from Austria is occupied by Maria Lassnig. After their premiere at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, we are proud to present a selection of both finished films and film fragments made by Lassnig in 1970s New York. These “films in progress” were digitized by the Maria Lassnig Foundation in collaboration with the Film Museum and completed in the spirit of Maria Lassnig by Hans Werner Poschauko and Mara Mattuschka.
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From the Brown Age
March 11, 2018
The strained relationship between film and history is explored in our program From the Brown Age. Film documents of daily life during the Nazi era 1932-1941. Almost ten years after our Film Documents and Contemporary History, we will once again turn the spotlight on 20th century archival material. Ingo Zechner and Michael Loebenstein will present footage filmed by Austrian and foreign amateurs during the “Anschluss” and thereafter as well as films in which Austrian National Socialists erect a documentary monument to themselves; among these are rare footage from the NSDAP film department shot in 1932/33 and recently discovered private films from a high-ranking “party member” made in the early years of the war.
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“Small wonder that camera reality parallels historical reality in terms of its structure, its general constitution. Exactly as historical reality, it is partly patterned, partly amorphous – a consequence, in both cases, of the half-cooked state of our everyday world.”
(Siegfried Kracauer, “History: The Last Things Before the Last”)

The Diagonale and “The Remains of Cinema”
Film history encompasses far more than just professional cinema. It is also formed by what remains in its wake: the ephemeral, unfinished, ignored, forgotten. Along with private footage filmed in 1938, in the traditional Diagonale month of March we will address the Driftwood of film history. The exploration will begin with Olaf Möller’s short film program on March 19: An evening highlighting special finds and works emerging from unrealized or thwarted projects.
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Cinematic driftwood galore can also be found in an exhibition at the Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien in Graz, open from February 10 to April 22. Reaching across genres and generations, the exhibition curated by Norbert Pfaffenbichler and Sandro Droschl is organized in cooperation between the Diagonale and the Austrian Film Museum. Historical and contemporary artistic positions are brought face to face with historical film artifacts in order to investigate the impact and reverberations of cinema in art and “cultural memory.” During the Diagonale, we will also present a program curated by Alejandro Bachmann and Stefanie Zingl: “Live Wire Province. Post-1968 Film Tropes of the Provincial.” The question of how film portrayed the province after 1968 is explored in a wide range of means: from documentary to amateur films. Film writes and depicts history: this is how.
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Picture: Under the Volcano, 1984, John Huston


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