New Austrian Film

   The New Austrian Cinema of the 1980s arose out of complex cultural cross-currents. One branch, associated with the director Peter K Kubelka (1934–) and his “metric films,” in which he calculates, then closely integrates, every linear and coloristic element into his final product, was strongly influenced by experimental cinematography throughout postwar Europe generally.
   The second wing was far more explicitly political. It had strong affinities to Viennese Actionism and its program for shaking modern Austrian society loose from its attachments to private comfort, hypocritical morality, and refusal to confront the Nazi elements of its 20th-century past. With the realities of human suffering, both psychological and bodily, at the center of its plotlines, the New Austrian cinema also has distant roots in the art of the Austrian Baroque, which used extreme physical trials to make theological points. The linguistic extremes of such directors as Franz Novotny (1949–) also have close affinities with Baroque rhetorical strategies. His casual and frequent use of common vulgarity shocks audiences into awareness of how fragile the base of human civility really is. Novotny’s Exitbut Don’t Panic (Exitaber keine Panik, 1980) was emblematic not only of his work but of the Austrian New Film as a whole. His adaptations of some of Elfriede Jelinek’s fiction was yet another way of unmasking the underside of one of Austria’s sacrosanct pillars of society, the home. Indeed, the theme of deadly family relations has been taken up by others in the movement, such as the Munich born Michael Haneke (1942–), in his The Seventh Continent (Der Siebte Kontinent, 1989). Radical feminism has made its own contribution to the shock value of the New Austrian Film. Especially original has been the work of Valié Export (Waltraut Höllinger, 1940–). In her 1968 Tapp und Tastfilm (Groping and Touching Film), she strapped a camera-like box to her chest, then urged viewers to feel her breasts, a tactic, she said that cleared away the distance between audience and performer along with the male delusions found in the film business and society generally.
   See also Film.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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