Vienna Shorts opens with a strong speech delivered by its co-directors

Doris Bauer and Daniel Hadenius-Ebner at the opening gala of Vienna Shorts. Photo by: Marina D. Richter

It takes skill, diplomacy and carefully chosen words to bring a strong message across, which was the case at the opening of Vienna shorts in Gartenbaukino, when its co-directors Daniel Hadeius-Ebner and Doris Bauer delivered their speech calling for tolerance and dialogue, not forgetting to stress out the importance of acknowledging the worrying rise of intolerance and racism.

“This year, too, we would have liked to talk about future projects, about making the world a little better, one step at a time. However, looking at the world today, just a few days before an important European election, other issues have come to the forefront for us – like the worldwide shift to the right, racist language seemingly becoming acceptable, climate protection measures being rolled back, and heavily armed conflicts being the new normal … We are aware that the debate is heating up and intensifying – and this also affects our festival –, and yet it is important to us to discuss these matters seriously and not further inflame them with populism.”

Regarding the selection of films screened at Vienna Shorts, Hadenius-Ebner and Bauer said:

“Filmmakers need to know what a festival stands for when they submit their films; guests of a festival need to know what they are getting into when they accept invitations; and it is also important for an audience to know how a cultural event positions itself in their city. (…) Everyone who has followed the festival in the past knows very well what we stand for – and that we do not shy away from conflicts or discussions. Our aim is and always has been to promote public discourse, not restrict it – and our stance is clearly reflected in our program.”

Also the Vienna Shorts’ position in the international festival landscape was addressed: “A public festival like ours never operates in a vacuum. We are part of international and regional debates – for us, however, a position is not conveyed through loud Social Media posts or externally imposed obligations to make a statement, but through the films, in whose power we believe, and the thematic focuses we have set for many years”, the co-directors clarified, continuing: “We understand Vienna Shorts as a political festival – not least in the knowledge that the short form often very quickly addresses current discourses and developments in the world. Among the 306 films we are showing this year, there are works from all corners of the world: from North and South America, from the Middle East and the Far East, from Europe and the Arab world, from Africa and Australia“, they concluded.

A powerful speech was also delivered by the Executive City Councillor for Cultural Affairs and Science Veronica Kaup-Hasler who used the festival’s slogans from past and present to speak about longing for peace, empathy and solidarity.