Österreich in Bild und Ton

Austria in Sound and Vision:
The Years 1935 to 1937

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Österreich in Bild und Ton (Austria in Sound and Vision) was the first state-produced weekly newsreel series in Austria that ran from June 1933 to March 1938. Newsreels were the predecessors of television news, informing the audiences of current world events in "living images". Although many of the pieces focus on political content, the range of coverage is impressive and offers a fair share of entertainment. Austria was not the sole focus of the newsreels - they include pieces acquired in exchange with international cooperation partners, which were included in the weekly editions.
 
The theater operators received (and were obliged to show) two new editions every Friday (an A and B copy), which were then alternately played in theaters. Only a total of 26 copies per week were produced for a market that consisted of about 700 theatres across the country. It could sometimes take a newsreel up to half a year to reach small provincial theatres. This unsatisfactory situation led to discontent and caused people to act on their own authority and unceremoniously remove out-of-date pieces from the newsreels. It is therefore difficult to make out the original state of the newsreels, since many of them only survive in pieces.
 
Following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938, Austria in Sound and Vision was dropped and reissued under the title Ostmark Newsreel. Older newsreel editions that remained in circulation still carry this title. All negatives and copies were placed in the Reichsfilmarchiv. After the Second World War and the division of Germany, part of the newsreels ended up in the West German Federal Archives, while the rest wound up in the State Film Archive of the GDR. In 1968, West Germany gave their part back to Austria, whereas the remaining material found its way to Vienna after the reunification of Germany. While the Austrian Film Archive holds the newsreels from the years 1933, 1934 and 1938, the Austrian Film Museum preserves those spanning from 1935 to 1937 in its collection. Today only 70% of the series, originally made up of 498 editions, is known to survive.
 
In the early 1970s, the Film Museum produced safety film copies of the newsreels preserved on nitrate film. At the end of the 1980s, the complete holdings were transferred onto U-matic high-band tapes on the occasion of the making of Hugo Portisch's popular historical TV documentary Österreich I. These U-matic recordings were the basis for the online presentation, which is the reason for the occasional interference typical for the format and age.