A distinct signature, a drive toward bold design, historical achievements, or completely new perspectives: our film series or retrospectives honor important institutions or representatives of the short format whose outstanding work has made a mark on international film—be it recently or a long time ago.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences not only presents the annual Academy Awards® but also manages a vast film archive, where Mark Toscano is responsible for the restoration of independent and avant-garde films. A selection of these films will be shown in Vienna this year in cooperation with the Austrian Film Museum and Slovenska kinoteka.

A program is dedicated to the artist Martha Colburn, who makes cutting political statements by way of collages, overpaintings, and essays and is considered one of the most radical and subversive voices in contemporary animated film. Similar ascriptions have been made to Ernst Schmidt jr., who passed away thirty years ago and left behind a large pioneering oeuvre he created from the 1960s on. Both filmmakers are honored with retrospectives at METRO Kinokulturhaus.

Alongside Martha Colburn we welcome four other artists in residence: the Portuguese filmmaker Diogo Costa Amarante, who also designed this year’s festival trailer. We also welcome last year's Spotlight artist Jacqueline Lentzou and two animation talents, Boris Labbé and—on invitation of ASIFA Austria—Nikita Diakur. (Daniel Ebner)

© Mark Toscano

The Academy & The Avant-Garde

Born in Hartford, CT, in 1976, Mark Toscano is a filmmaker, curator, and restorer. Since 2003, he has been considered the specialist for restoration for independent and avant-garde films at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In this Hollywood institution—which is primarily focused on the mainstream film industry and in charge of events such as the Academy Awards®—Toscano plays an exceptional role. In recent years, he has been responsible for achieving a new visibility of American avant-garde cinema through multiple strands of work. These include his restorations of Stan Brakhage, Bruce Baillie or Chick Strand as well as international film programs that he has curated and presented in his own inimitable way. The film series in Vienna presents three programs that offer insight into the activities of the collection: one program devoted entirely to the filmmaker Chick Strand (1931–2009), which marks the first time Viennese audiences have the chance to see her work; one program on independent animation films; and one on West Coast psychedelia, a dominant thread of the American avant-garde. (Alejandro Bachmann)

The Academy & The Avant-Garde will show all films in analog film prints, most of them new restorations.

Mark Toscano will be present.

© Martha Colburn

Martha Colburn

The breakneck three-quarter time of punk music throbs in the films of Martha Colburn, who was born in Gettysburg, Pa., in 1971. Different strategies—found footage, cutout collages, and hand-overpaintings—sport the artist’s visually tight and quintessentially political signature.

Analog film stock is manipulated from all sides; figures move frantically and are switched like insert cards, overlaid, deformed, and reinterpreted. In this process, Colburn examines American identity and history as well as the role of media, beauty ideals, and—using pornographic material scratched beyond recognition—life after death.

In her later works, the award-winning artist, whose most recent film Western Wild premiered at the MoMA in New York City, ventures into essayistic territory. At their center is always a restless observer, who understands her art as a strategy for inner catharsis. One of the most radical, original, and subversive voices of contemporary experimental animation. (Marius Hrdy/Daniel Ebner)

Martha Colburn (Artist in Residence) will be present.

© Ernst Schmidt jr.

Ernst Schmidt Jr.

He would have celebrated his eightieth birthday this year, hadn’t he died thirty years ago: Ernst Schmidt jr. was incorruptible all his life. A companion to VALIE EXPORT, Peter Weibel, and Kurt Kren, he was the cofounder of the Austrian Filmmakers Coop and one of the most important figures of Expanded Cinema in the 1960s and ’70s. He published the seminal book Eine Subgeschichte des Films (A Subhistory of Film) together with Hans Scheugl in 1974. His wide-ranging activities in media and film—his catalogue contains almost 100 works of different filmic approaches—are marked by criticism of established cinema and subversion in his own artistic work, often paired with irony and subtle humor.

Schmidt jr.’s oeuvre includes feature-length films and a large number of miniatures and radical short filmic “statements” expressing both his political stance and his proclivity toward collages. (Gerard Weber)