When the InternationalDocumentary Film Festival Amsterdam opens in the Dutch capital on Thursday (Nov24) it will feature two documentaries from the same country on the same topic.
The overlap is not due tosome error by the selection committee: the films in question - each Austrianand dealing with food politics - are very different. Erwin Wagenhofer'sWe Feed TheWorld adopts a traditional journalistic style, while NikolausGeyrhalter's OurDaily Bread (Unser
They also point to thenation's current appetite for documentary film-making. Indeed, a quick look atScreen International's regular production listings - below - reveals that theynumber around half of the productions in Austria.
The genre's success is notrecent trend but one that has gradually been building steam during the past year.
To the fore is Hubert Sauper's Oscar shortlisted
Also on the Lido wasMichael Glawogger's Horizons sidebar title
Nikolaus Geyrhalter'sAcross The Border: FiveViews From Neighbours has similarly enjoyed strong festival play,with invitations from Moscow, Munich and Minneapolis, while Paul Rosdy's Neue Welt played Karlovy Vary among others.
Part of the success isdown to how documentaries are now finding favour with Austria's public funds.At a recent funding session of the Austrian Film Institute, four non-fictionprojects received backing: in comparison none of the feature projects pitched were deemed worthy of financing.
Martin Schweighofer,managing director of the Austrian Film Commission (AFC), explains: "Thereis a great tradition in Austria of documentaries not just getting made, butalso of having a chance to run in cinemas. You don't have that possibility inmany other countries."
Several of the upcomingdocumentaries are specifically located in Austria. HanneloreTiefenthaler's GoodMorning Austria (Guten
But other film-makers arelooking farther afield. UdoMaurer's Wasser,which examines different peoples' relationship with water, was shot over twoyears in Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, and Kenya. And Ina Ivanceanu and Elke Groen's Happy NewFish (Nian
Peter Jageris managing director at Autlook Filmsales,a Vienna-based company launched in early 2005 by documentary producers Amour Filmproduktion, Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion andNavigator Film.
He explains that theoutward vision is in part due to Austria's geographical position. "Austriais a small country with many borders, so Austrian film-makers are veryperceptive to international subjects.
"People are more andmore interested in constructive and creative visions of our world and thisdemand is being met here."
It's an argument supportedby the home box-office success of Filmladen release
Food for thought indeed.
Forfull Austrian and German listings, http://www.screendaily.com/productionlisting.asp'id=74&pl=true&main=true>clickhere