Every year in March, many filmmakers travel to Graz, Styria to enjoy the film festival called “Diagonale”. The festival takes place for a week in March and screens Austrian shorts, experimental, documentaries and feature length movies.
The city of Graz looks forward to this event every year and the trademark of the festival, a red flag with white stripes, can be found in every street corner and in every shopping window. The whole city awakens in excitment, beating with a fresh new bundle of people who are passionate about film.
The most charming aspect of the festival is its prize, which is a special handcrafted walnut. The golden walnut is hand crafted by the artist Anna Paul. This understated prize, can be seen as a metaphor, for Filmmakers working hard on cracking the nut to success.
The winner of this years feature film was awarded to Sara Fattahi for her film „Chaos“. Sara Fattahi is originally from Syrian but recently came to Austria to find peace and to create art.
During her speech, I found her take on cinema remarkably touching and inspiring. She said that cinema was always a place where she could explore the world without borders.
Since the start of the war in Syria, Sara has lost her home, her friends and family yet in the spirit of the festival Sara remarked that she felt at home in Austria, even going as far as to say that she felt Austrian.
After the award ceremony, which tends to be a very long event, Austrian filmmakers flock to the bar and mingle, plan and create new projects for the coming year. I recommend visiting the Diagonale if you wish to meet Austria’s up and coming filmmakers.