Le Mépris (Die Verachtung), 1963, Jean-Luc Godard


Film Museum Retrospective (March 6 to April 10, 2014)

Circling around a single year in the calendar of cinema, this is a large-scale attempt to portray a specific cultural moment, a very rich one in terms of film history. For the purposes of this retrospective and its film selection, "1964" – the year when the Austrian Film Museum was founded – is being extended in both directions: to the fall of 1962 (when Peter Kubelka and Peter Konlechner began working together) and to the fall of 1965 (when the Film Museum took residence in the Albertina building, where it is still housed today).

In retrospect, the creation of this museum in February 1964 was neither an accident nor an isolated incident. Starting in the early 1960s, movies and cinema rapidly developed new modes of self-reflection. A multitude of festivals, cinematheques and film magazines were founded, the first film schools were established, there was a blossoming of literature about film. Taking up the example of the Nouvelle vague, a young generation of filmmakers and critics loudly demanded a "new cinema" in other parts of the world; artists and writers found a wealth of attractive material in the pop world of movies; and the history of the medium became widely available for the first time, partly through television. In many ways, it was a high point of cinephile culture, while also expressing a feeling of crisis at the film industry level.  

The retrospective will present roughly 60 works from around the time of the museum's "birth". Some of these films are energized by the glamour of a new cosmopolitanism (fly PanAm to Rio!), others suffer from the provincial but still-prevalent attitude of censorship. Some deal with mad men, frustrated by the results of the economic boom in the West, others with women who lose themselves in the memory of the concentration camps or the industrial wasteland of the Po Valley. Some films represent the crest of the New Wave and the beginning of follow-up waves in Sweden, Poland, Brazil and Germany. Others are the last hurrahs of the "thaw" in the East, and of Western masters who, in their eight decade, are widely considered "old-fashioned" by 1964. Some engage with the Cold War, Algeria, the Tokyo Olympics, or Lawrence of Arabia, while others are content with being called educational, advertising, or underground films. Taken together, they supply us with documents of an era in which irony and earnestness, high culture and camp, political engagement and the liberation of the self could still be held in balance.  

The series is highlighted by a number of guests: P. Adams Sitney, film historian and theorist, and the herald of the New American Cinema when it arrived in Europe in 1963/64; Gavin Smith, chief editor of Film Comment (first published in the fall of 1963); Natacha Laurent, director of the Cinémathèque de Toulouse (founded in 1964); Olaf Möller of Cologne, critic and consultant to the retrospective; and Zagreb-based writer and curator Tanja Vrvilo.


Projects in the framework of the Film Museum's 50th anniversary are supported by the Austrian Film Institute, the City of Vienna and the Austrian Federal Chancellery.


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