CROSSING EUROPE is a unique event in its genre. Its name sets precisely its mission: an inspiring journey through Europe. The only film festival completely and exclusively dedicated to feature the rich and complex diversity of Europe through its cinematographic diversity.
Before starting Crossing Europe I was running an Arthouse cinema in Vienna followed by being the director of Diagonale – Festival of Austrian Film in Graz for seven years. With this experience about the Austrian festival and film landscape I wanted to position a festival between the international film festival Viennale in Vienna and the national film festival Diagonale in Graz. The invitation by the local art house manager Wolfgang Steiniger in Linz was just in time to start a festival project with an European focus. The profile of CROSSING EUROPE was inspired by the fact that plenty of outstanding and innovative European films are not released or presented in Austria, I wanted to fill the gap and exhibit innovative European “auteur” cinema.
Crossing Europe is fifteen. Over these years Europe has been changing dramatically and not always for the best. How the Crossing Europe Festival has experienced and mirrored in its programming the setbacks and the backlashes of the very idea of European integration?
Indeed, in the last fifteen years Europe has had to cope with economic and bank crises, the consequences of austerity policies, structural change, armed conflicts, migration and refugee movements, nationalistic and xenophobic currents, terrorist attacks and political shifts to the right. This makes it all the more important to critically further the European peace project and to remain politically aware in the interests of democracy. And it is exactly in this period of time that the Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz has matured into a cinephile festival, uniting directors with a clear position, who use varied artistic means and narrative forms to take up socio-political trends and demonstrate a vibrant, cosmopolitan, critical, and diverse film culture. This is what we want to show and celebrate!
Crossing Europe has become a hub for high-quality European productions, new discoveries, promising talents from all over Europe, experimental and unconventional cinematography. When you start programming and selecting among many films and documentaries, how do you pick them up? Do you follow some precise guidelines or every year you are event-driven and get inspired by the “hot issues” of the moment for your selection?
It is ongoing process of watching hundreds of films from all over Europe. And over the year we put together – like a mosaic – a variety of films dealing with European subjects and crossing territories. The selection process is a challenge due to the fact that there are so many interesting films but it’s impossible to include all titles, therefore the decision making is first of all focused on the artistic approach followed by the issues they deal with.
Crossing Europe offers occasion to cover and discuss all aspects and themes profoundly affecting our times across Europe and provide insight into key themes: disruptive consequences of wars on social and family ties, migration impact on every-day life of common people, religious and sexual identity as explosive social issues.
That’s a perfect summery you gave about the topics of this year’s edition. For example only the 22 films in the Competition fiction and documentary section cover a broad spectrum of themes and forms. In the selected feature films we see young people at the crossroads (KÖRFEZ), ready to take the leap into “real” adult life (ANTÓNIO UM DOIS TRÊS) or trapped between two cultures (CHARMØREN, HVA VIL FOLK SI), dysfunctional family and sibling relationships (IL CRATERE, VINTERBRØDRE), female selfempowerment (SASHISHI DEDA), and relationships in an emotional state of emergency (HJÄRTAT, MARTESA, MORIR, SOLDAŢII. POVESTE DIN FERENTARI).
This competition documentary section comprises works, which probe the current disposition of Europe at the social, political, economic and contemporary historical level. The entries in this section deal with the drastic (late) consequences of armed conflicts (METEORLAR), totalitarian regimes and misguided economic policies (MZIS QALAQI, OUĂLE LUI TARZAN), illuminate the situation of young people in search of their place in society (MR GAY SYRIA, NIC JAKO DŘÍV) and families buffeted by fate (DRUGA STRANA SVEGA, DRUŽINA, HUGO), and seek answers to currently “hot” questions like integration (ZENTRALFLUGHAFEN THF), right-wing populism (MONTAGS IN DRESDEN), human dignity and economic exploitation (A WOMAN CAPTURED).
Specialized programs as Working World or Architecture and Society illuminate European working worlds and social realities in times of globalization and economic crises. This year the series, revolves around the theme of “Dream/Nightmare Work” under the title Dreaming Under Capitalism with the four hand-picked documentary films revolving around the analysis of workers’ nightly nightmares.
How far can our journey across Europe arrive? Which role can art of all kind and cinema play in defending and reviving the idea of Europe?
This year the cinematic map ranges from Iceland to Calabria and from the Atlantic to the Urals. With 182 hand-picked feature films and documentaries from more than 40 countries in our 2018 edition, Europe is newly surveyed on the screen. The audience is invited to discover and discuss (with the 140 present film guests) current socio-political but also artistic-eccentric works, as well as highlights from the past festival season.
Which are the next challenges Crossing Europe wants to take up?
Over the past 15 years CROSSING EUROPE has matured into a cinephile festival that unites filmmakers with a stance, who bring European life worlds to the screen using diverse means. Vibrant, open-minded, critical and diverse is the film culture that CROSSING EUROPE stands for. We would love to continue this journey and inspire as many people as possible.