This year’s Viennale (Oct 20 – Nov 2) will be staging special programmes to celebrate the work of UK producer Jeremy Thomas [pictured], US actor and political activitist Harry Belafonte and the Belgian director Chantal Akerman.

The Tribute to Thomas in the presence of the veteran producer will include a selection of his most important productions from Jerzy Skolimowski’s 1978 film The Shout through Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor to the  Austrian premiere of David Cronenberg’s latest film A Dangerous Method, which first screens in Venice next month.

Belafonte will be coming to Vienna for the presentation of a selection of his films – ranging from 1954’s Carmen Jones to Robert Altman’s late jazz homage Kansas City from 1996 – as well as the documentary Sing Your Song on his life and work.

Moreover, the Retrospective on Chantal Akerman, organised in cooperation with the Austrian Film Museum, will include her latest film La Folie Almayer as well as a Carte Blanche programme with 14 films by other directors – such as Jean-Luc Godard, Gus van Sant, Douglas Sirk and Wong Kar-wai - who are particularly dear to Akerman and chosen by her especially for this retrospective.

Commenting on the selection made so far for the Viennale’s main programme of feature films and documentaries, the festival says that the lineup ranges “from individual big names, who have become well known to the festival audience over the years, to new discoveries; from classic narrative style to experimental forms; from well-known film genres to exciting, sometimes hybrid-like mixtures of fiction and documentation; old and new; the familiar and disturbing.”

Titles already confirmed to screen in Vienna as part of its lineup of around 130 feature-length films include this year’s Locarno Golden Leopard winner Back To Stay by Milagros Mumenthaler, Alex Ross Perry’s The Color Wheel, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, Nanni Moretti’s Habemus Papam, Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre, Sono Sion’s Koi no tsumi, Todd Haynes’ Mildred Pierce, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, and the documentaries, Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog, Tahrir, Liberation Square by Stefano Savona, and Unter Kontrolle by Volker Sattel.

he local Austrian press reported festival director Hans Hurch as saying that in his time at the Viennale he had never seen so many interesting documentaries coming from Austria. So far, he has invited Ruth Beckermann’s American Passages, Lotte Schreiber‘s Tlatelolco and Joerg Burger’s Way Of Passion to run at the festival.

At a first press conference on this year’s programme, Hurch noted that the Viennale’s 2011 edition would be the last one with the present programme structure. A “comprehensive relaunch” is planned for the festival’s 50th anniversary edition in 2012, which will retain the tried and tested elements, but expand and update with “new, varied programme ideas and structures.”