Next year's Diagonale - Festival of Austrian Cinema (March 13-21, 2004) is to become the latest in a line of international film festivals launching a CineMart-style co-production market and Film Market/Industry Office under the new management of Miroljub Vuckovic and Tillmann Fuchs.

Introducing the new concept for the Graz-based festival, Vuckovic said that the Diagonale Bazaar would present 10-15 feature projects - ten from the South East European region and 2-5 from Austria. The projects would be pitched to potential partners - co-producers, international buyers and TV commissioning editors - in pre-arranged meetings. The first five South East European projects have already been selected by Vuckovic this summer and a final line-up will sent out in a dossier to potential financiers in December.

The Film Market/Industry Office will intend to provide a platform for industry screenings of completed films for TV buyers and distributors as well as organising "working breakfasts" and other get-togethers to spotlight production in the South East European region and Austria.

Other innovations at the festival will include the creation of two new competition sections for new Austrian and South East European films with eight new awards and prize money totalling Euros 285,000.

While Vuckovic stressed that "the Diagonale will continue have a focus on and remain the place for contemporary Austrian cinema", the festival's concept was greeted by widespread disapproval by the Austrian film community at the official presentation in Vienna this week.

Producer Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu of Amour Filmproduktion told that "what the Diagonale directors have presented today is in total contradiction to what the Austrian film industry is in both aesthetic and formal terms . The Diagonale in Graz always had an aura and symbolic force for the people who came from abroad to the festival, but such a repositioning gives a massive message of an orientation towards television, an absolute commercialisation and the complete opposite of what has made Austrian cinema so successful"..

"Many of the Austrian filmmakers came to the press conference because they just wanted to hear the festival concept. But the reaction was that it is the opposite of what we need and would mean the destruction of everything that had been built up at the Diagonale over the last six years. "