After attracting widespread disdain from international critics on its world premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny has now picked up the FIPRESCI Prize at this year's Viennale - Vienna International Film Festival in a re-edited version.
Festival director Hans Hurch said the FIPRESCI jury's decision had been "completely unexpected" and "a great surprise" for him, but that he regarded it as "a kind of recompense" after the harsh treatment meted out in Cannes.
A Special Mention was made for Julie Bertucelli's family drama Depuis Qu'Otar Est Parti which was screened after the gala prize-giving ceremony on Wednesday evening (October 29).
The Vienna Film Prize was unanimously awarded to Ulrich Seidl's Jesus, You Know (Jesus, Du Weisst), with a Special Mention for Martin Bruch's debut Handbikemovie.
In a statement, the jury noted that "overall, the Austrian feature films and documentaries of this year left a positive impression behind: the works showed themselves to be diverse both regarding subject and aesthetics, and we were particularly pleased that the proportion of young filmmakers was so high."
Meanwhile, the prize of the daily newspaper Der Standard's Audience Jury, which offers free advertising space for a film currently without theatrical distribution in Austria, went to Peter Sollett's debut feature Long Way Home [aka Raising Victor Vargas], with a Special Mention for Argentine director Celina Murga's Ana Y Los Otros.
Hurch added that he was "extremely pleased" with the decisions of this year's juries. "I see them as a confirmation of the festival's programme because all three films and the special mentions represent certain positions within the Viennale," he said.
According to preliminary figures, attendance at the Viennale increased from last year's 70,400 to 75,200 tickets sold, with over a quarter of the screenings complete sell-outs.
In fact, there was such a run on certain titles in the 2003 programme ahead of the festival's start on October 17 that the Viennale decided to extend for one more day to October 30.
Among the films receiving a third screening on the extra day were Thom Andersen's Los Angeles Plays Itself, Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock's A Certain Kind Of Death, Goran Rebic's Donau, Dunaj, Duna, Dunay, Dunarea, Barbara Albert's Boese Zellen and Gallo's The Brown Bunny.