Short Films Against Fear and For the Oscars

The motto for the 13th edition of the international short film festival VIS Vienna Independent Shorts is "Fear Is Not an Option". Over a period of seven days, nearly 350 films will be screened in four competition categories, two featured artists programs, and a variety of special focuses and special features. As the only Academy Award qualifying festival in Austria, films at VIS also have the opportunity to qualify directly for the Academy Award's long list.

A tense social climate, radicalized discourse, extreme solutions: when fear comes into play, you can't appeal to reason alone, but rather, must also address the emotional core of the people. This is what makes film in general, and film festivals in particular, such a fruitful framework - what do films appeal to, if not our emotions? At the same time, festivals provide a platform for discussion and reflection. Given current state of affairs, festivals can only open up more space for dialogue.

This year's motto "Fear Is Not an Option" is therefore deliberately political. In uncertain times like these, fear may be a stubborn companion, but remains a poor advisor. This theme appears throughout the largest Austrian festival for short film, animation, and music video in many of the 346 international and Austrian films, and in the joint film programs, with partner festivals Go Short (NL) and Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (CA) and in cooperation with the International Press Institute, Vienna.

114 Films in Four Competition Categories
Beyond this years main focus, especially the international competition categories Fiction & Documentary (for short feature films and documentaries), and Animation Avantgarde (for animated and experimental works), but also in the Austria Competition, we get a concentrated look at the current state of short films. Out of the more than 3,500 films submitted, 114 films were ultimately selected, and these reflect both the high quality and diversity of the international short film landscape. They compete for the favor of the audience and the jury, prize money of more than 20,000 euros, and for the first time, not only for qualification for the Austrian Film Prize, but also for the Academy Awards®.

For the fourth time the Austrian music video prize will also be awarded in the context of VIS. The festival, together with the Poolinale Music Film Festival Vienna, contributes to the renaissance of a film genre that has long been understood solely as a promotional tool and interface between music and film. The best international music video will also be awarded as part of the so-called 'Screensessions.'

Live Events, Football films, Virtual Reality & The Rhythm of Vienna

This year, two special live events are planned for Cinema Sessions: U.S. rapper Zebra Katz shares the stage with DJ Leila Arab and filmmaker Florian Pochlatko at the METRO Theater. Two days later, Austrian one-man band A Thousand Fuegos alongside director Christoph Schwarz treat us to a concert in the auditorium. Curious visitors also have the opportunity to try the most modern version of Expanded Cinema: Virtual Reality. In cooperation with the virtual reality lounge vrei in Vienna, from Friday to Sunday in the Künstlerhaus Passagegalerie, which also acts as the Festival Center, there will be VR goggles available and allow guests to plunge into simulated worlds.

VIS's popular Midnight Movies is also back, and along with Night of the Light, hosted by Michael Ostrowski, promises to be a crowd pleaser. VIS also presents programs in cooperation with Sundance programmer Mike Plante, with the Short Film Festival Oberhausen, national specials focusing on the Bosnian diaspora and Colombian animated film scene, and - in celebration of the European Football Championships - a free open-air screening with football/soccer films in front of Heuer at Karlsplatz. In cooperation with the Vienna Tourist Board and the Vienna Shorts Agency, a major highlight of this year's international competition is "The Rhythm of Vienna". Out of 129 submissions, three film concepts will be selected, whose realization will simultaneously begin with the start of the festival.

Star Guests & Big Names: Bill Plympton & Anouk De Clercq
This year's program includes many films from big names in directing - from Werner Herzog to Wes Anderson, from Krzysztof Kieslowski to George Lucas. A film by Don Herztfeldt, last year's Spotlight guest and now two-time Oscar nominee, is also in the mix again and part of a special program.

Together with the Austrian Film Museum, this year VIS welcomes a very special international guest star: Bill Plympton is one of the world's most famous animation filmmakers. The two-time Oscar-nominated director from Portland, Oregon, is regarded as a stylistic influence for "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy". The second solo exhibition, in cooperation with sixpackfilm, is dedicated to the Belgian artist Anouk De Clercq. Her movie "Building" fits well within the framework of this years festival motto, which can be seen as a political and artistic appeal: Fear Is Not an Option.

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