Before his death, Chris Marker created a special anniversary trailer.

The Viennale is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with some amazingly creative plans that reflect the event’s passion for cinema.

This summer, in selected Austrian cinemas, audiences will enjoy an anniversary trailer by the late Chris Marker, described as “a short film about the long history of cinema.” [pictured below] Past festival trailers have been directed by Agnes Varda, Jean-Luc Godard and David Lynch, which is a sign of how much directors love this festival too. (The festival will also celebrate past shorts used as Viennale trailers).


The festival is using image recognition app Petite Madeleine, which brings to life the printed guide to the anniversary and immerses users in current information, photo galleries, videos, competitions and more.

Over 50 evenings this summer, the open-air Kino Wie Noch Nie in Vienna’s Augartenspitz tells the history of the festival with 50 films screening.

The festival will have a train carrying the name of the festival (running between Salzburg and Vienna) with info (including loudspeaker announcements) about the Viennale.

There will be Viennale tributes at festivals including Locarno (kicking off this week), with tributes already running earlier this year during Bafici, IndieLisboa, Marseille and Jeonju.

There’s a festival ice cream (you don’t get that at the Berlinale) and an official Austrian postage stamp (below).


From mid-September, industry online platform Festival Scope will host a selection of Austrian shorts.

This year’s festival will host the Austrian premiere of Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours, which makes use of Vienna as a location and protagonist (the film first goes to Locarno). Werner Herzog will also be a special guest at the 2012 festival.

I went to the Viennale for the first time in 2002 – I came from New York covering it for indieWIRE and couldn’t believe the hospitality and cinephile vibe I found in Vienna. I was soon a regular visitor and came to appreciate the Viennale for its unique programming and attitude. There were industry attendees but it’s not an industry festival – it’s a place where movies of many forms are championed, audiences are encouraged to interact with films and filmmakers in close contact, and the programme always turned up some unexpected current gems alongside the lauded retrospectives. It’s also the festival that breaks down the barriers between filmmakers and other guests – I found myself supping pumpkin soup with Stanley Kwan one year and having late-night drinks at the festival tent with James Benning another time. One of my fondest memories of the Viennale is sitting with my late colleague and friend Peter Brunette at a fancy dinner at the Lusthaus discussing Antonioni’s L’Eclisse, which I’d seen for the first time earlier that day (and which Peter was kind enough to enlighten me about further without making me feel like a total idiot – he was always good at that.)

For those reasons and more, I hope to be celebrating with the Viennale in late October. Here’s to another 50 years.

(More info on the festival here.)