Michael Haneke's drama Hidden(Cache) took the Diagonale GrandPrix for best Austrian feature film 2005/2006at this year's annual celebration of Austrian cinema in Graz.
The film has already won a longlist of awards including the best director and FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes and theEuropean Film Award for best European Film of 2005.
In a letter of thanks, readout by his director of photography Christian Berger, Haneke once more voicedhis concern about the adoption of a film funding principle focusedon local box-office performance.
His producer Veit Heiduschka ofWega-Film remarked "that the joy [on receiving the prize] is all thegreater because the early Haneke films were not recognised in Austria."
The Diagonale InternationalJury, which included German producer Peter Rommel (Summer In Berlin) and Austrian writer-director Goetz Spielmann (Antares), also gave a special mention to the Vienna-basedproduction company coop 99 in recognition of "the high level of itswork" in producing Antonin Svoboda's You Bet Your Life (Spiele Leben), Jasmila Zbanic's Golden Bear-winner Grbavica and Benjamin Heisenberg's Sleeper (Der Schlaefer).
The newly created DiagonaleGrand Prix for best documentary was shared between Tizza Covi and RainerFrimmel's Babooska and Arash's ExileFamily Movie, the documentary jurynoting that their decision had been a compromise as they hadn't found "onebig, genuine film which could have convinced us all completely."
Babooska had received its world premiere at the Berlinale'sPanorama last month where it won the Wolfgang Staudte Prize, while ExileFamily Movie - which is being handledinternaitonally by First Hand Sales - has been invited to screen in theInternational Competition of Nyon's Visions Cinema du Reel next month.
Other awards included theProducer Prize for "innovative achievement in production" ex aequo toHelmut Grasser's Allegro Film for We Feed The World and to Erich Lackner's Lotus Film for WorkingMan's Death as well as prizes for best camerawork to Martin Gschlacht for You Bet Your Life (featurefilm) and Wolfgang Thaler for Working Man's Death (documentary), for best editing to NinaKusturica and Bernhard Schmid for Kotsch (feature film) and to Dieter Pichlerfor his work on the documentaries No Name City and Exile Family Movie; and the Thomas Pluch Screenplay Prize to MichaelGlawogger for his script of the Berlinale competition film Slumming.
Apart from offering a snaphotof contemporary Austrian filmmaking, this year's Diagonale also served as afilm political forum for controversial and often acrimonious debate about thefuture direction of film production in Austria.
The Diagonale's fourworkshops on production showed that a generational change in generations isunderway in the local production scene as dynamic new players throw thepractices of the veteran producers into question.\par
Meanwhile, at the awardsceremony, Austria's Secretary of State for Culture Franz Morak announced hisintention to provide "more funds for Austrian cinema although he neglectedto mention any specifics on the scale of the proposd increase.\par
Two veteran producers told ScreenDaily after the awards ceremony thatMorak's statement was the result of consistent lobbying by the productioncommunity since last year, while another industry figure suggested that thefunding increase could be channeled primarily into the RTR TelevisionProduction Fund which Morak regards as his "baby".