The seeds for a potentially controversial Vienna International Film Festival (Viennale, October 17-29) have been sown with the inclusion of two special programmes - one dedicated to US actor-director Vincent Gallo and the second to Austrian filmmaking as a riposte to Austria's Secretary of State for the Arts Franz Morak.
The Gallo showcase, which "wants to offer the controversial filmmaker, radical author and idiosyncratic actor the space and freedom he deserves in cinema", will include scerenings of his 1986 shorts If You Feel Froggy, Jump and The Gunlover, Abel Ferrara's The Funeral, his feature debut Buffalo '66, and, naturally, The Brown Bunny.
Meanwhile, the focus on Austrian cinema - entitled News From Home - has been introduced as a reaction to Morak's perceived heavy-handed treatment of the Diagonale Festival of Austrian Cinema in Graz early this year (Screen Daily, May 26 2003).
Viennale festival director Hans Hurch was particularly vocal in his criticism of Morak's appointment in May of Miroljub Vuckovic as Diagonale's Artistic Director and Tilmann Fuchs as Business Affairs Manager to succeed Christine Dollhofer and Constantin Wulff.
At the time, 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 had argued.
News From Home will aim to show the complete range of Austrian production - from short films to avant-garde productions, videos, documentaries and new feature films as well as providing a forum for discussions about the state of public film policy in Austria.