The Diagonale festival of Austrian cinema and Austria's Secretary of State for the Arts Franz Morak have once more hit the headlines - this time with the appointment of Miroljub Vuckovic as the festival's Artistic Director and Tilmann Fuchs as Business Affairs Manager to succeed Christine Dollhofer and Constantin Wulff.
Speaking to the news agency APA, Viennale festival director Hans Hurch described the appointment as a "deeply undemocratic, arbitrary, vindictive action" and suggested that Austrian filmmakers and journalists should boycott next year's Diagonale.
"Then one would see what Morak has brought about. However sad that may be for the festival directors. But they must accept this if they let themselves be made into Morak's henchmen, and that's what they are," Hurch argued, pointing that it had been "a cheek" by Morak to announce the names of the successful candidates during the Cannes Film Festival when many of the Austrian film community were in the South of France. "That is simply bad manners."
Hurch described Vuckovic as "a thoroughly competent man", adding "the fact is, though, that Vuckovic doesn't speak German, that is rather strange for an Austrian festival".
Moreover, daily newspaper Der Standard quoted producer Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu as saying that Vuckovic was "a profound authority on cinema, but not necessarily an expert on Austrian cinema."
Responding to Hurch's call to boycott next March's Diagonale, Vuckovic told Austrian daily newspaper Die Presse, "this is not the end, but the beginning of a dialogue",
Vuckovic has been the general manager of the Film Institute in Belgrade since 1995 and head of programming at the Belgrade International Film Festival since 1997. At this year's Diagonale he helped coordinate the highly successful Special Guest sidebar dedicated to Serb director Zelimir Zilnik.
Morak had provoked the ire of the Austrian film community in March after ignoring calls to re-appoint Christine Dollhofer in the post of artistic director.