Easily the most important annual film festival in Austria, and arguably one of the most significant of its kind anywhere in the world, the Vienna International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Viennale, is a worthwhile reason to visit the Imperial City all on its own.
Intended as a counterpoint to the callous aesthetics of modern, mainstream moviemaking, the festival has distinguished itself with the high caliber of its entries and the vibrancy of its attendees (of the more than 90,000 cineastes who make the trip to Vienna every year, a considerable percentage are decidedly young).
The program for 2011 promises to feature more than 350 films from all around the globe and in every conceivable genre. The final list of titles will not be released until mid-October (the festival runs from October 20 through November 2), but the list of events running concurrently with the main competition is unsurprisingly tantalizing.
Established in 1960, the Viennale has long featured a large retrospective every year in collaboration with the Austrian Film Museum examining various aspects of Viennese cinema studies, history, and culture. Another tradition, the so-called “Viennale Specials”, feature theme-oriented performances and retrospectives in an effort to fashion an enhanced, memorable experience for moviegoers who have come to expect nothing less than cinematic excellence.
Along with the general public, the festival is attended by more than 700 accredited celebrities, filmmakers, actors, journalists, writers, and academics, a staggering figure that helps set the Viennale apart as a world-class event. Don’t wait for the official program to make your travel plans. The quality and range of the offerings on hand are a sure bet.