By Ray Pride

Andersen On Hurch

“Under Hans Hurch, the Vienna International Film Festival (VIENNALE) was the best there was. It was a festival for the people of Vienna, “a festival of festivals,” like Toronto originally, not a business-oriented commercial festival. It was the most hospitable of all the festivals. The festival team stayed together from year to year so they became like friends if you visited more than once or twice. The festival social events, including the nightly dinners, were open to all the guests. At other festivals, visiting film-makers get invited to one dinner with the director and are shut out of the others. And it was just the right size, not too big, not too small. Hans chose all the films with the assistance of Katja Wiederspahn.  Films didn’t get lost as they do in Toronto or Rotterdam. Short films were an important part of the program. If you were up for seeing five programs a day, you could see just about everything.

“And the curating was the best. He supported the work of many Los Angeles film-makers who are not part of the ‘industry,’ and many from Cal Arts, students, graduates and faculty members. But his choice of Hollywood films was inspired: for example, he was among the first to notice Christopher Nolan. It was at the VIENNALE that I discovered the work of Bahman Ghobodi (V2000), Apitchatpong Weerasethakul (V2000), Lisandro Alonso (V2001), Rithy Panh (V2000), Nuri Bilge Ceylon (V2003), Julie Bertuccelli (V2003), Alain Guiraudie (V2003), Miguel Gomes (V2008), when  they were still little-known, and of course all the Austrian film-makers whose work I have come to cherish.

“And Hans made it all look easy. He never complained about being overwhelmed and exhausted during the festival as most festival directors like to do. I can’t remember a single projection problem, a single film shown in the wrong aspect ratio. And we didn’t have to tolerate those witty advertisements from a festival sponsor that are fun the first time but become unendurable by the end of the festival (cf. Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles). So film-makers and film-lovers all over the world will miss Hans deeply.”
~ Thom Andersen Remembers Hans Hurch On Facebook

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