Diagonale
Festival of Austrian Film
April 5–10, 2022, Graz

Opening sponsor:
AVL Cultural Foundation

Co sponsors:
Almert & Partner
Energie Steiermark

SONNE by Kurdwin Ayub opens the Diagonale’22

SONNE, Kurdwin Ayub © Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion

The Diagonale is pleased to announce that the Festival of Austrian Film will open on April 5 with Kurdwin Ayub’s feature film SONNE (AT 2022). After its world premiere at the Berlinale Encounters section, the Austrian premiere of the film produced by Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion will be shown on Austria’s largest temporary screen – in the Helmut List Halle. Kurdwin Ayub’s SONNE is an unprecedented film of its generation, urgently relevant in terms of form and content, the ironic deconstruction of all authenticity. Simultaneous to the opening screening in Graz and in collaboration with Stadtkino Filmverleih, SONNE will be shown in selected independent film theaters all over Austria on April 5.

More information on Kurdwin Ayub and SONNE as well as information on the gala premiere of Ulrich Seidl’s Rimini (AT 2022) and the competition film Für die Vielen – Die Arbeiterkammer Wien (AT 2022) by Constantin Wulff can be found below.

“With SONNE, Kurdwin Ayub presents the Diagonale an exceptional opening film. Already in her beguiling music videos, ludicrous and snappy short films, and her documentary film debut Paradies! Paradies!, Ayub demonstrated that describing the present demands extremely varied cinematic forms. In SONNE, the filmmaker condenses her aesthetically risqué maneuvers, humor, and cunning linguistic sense for youth jargon to a radical feature film.

SONNE is a ray of hope – perhaps a turning point – in (recent) Austrian cinema. A feature film that has little to do with the films shown in the first 25 years of the Diagonale in Graz. SONNE is a child of its times and brings onto the screen the aesthetics of a present day in which cinema has long had something nostalgic about it. The smartphone’s portrait format and fleeting social media story’s fast cuts are inscribed in Ayub’s self-confidently staged pictorial world. With the characteristic up-close intimacy of her cinematic language, she expresses the confusion of her generation and our era: The protagonists Yesmin, Bella, and Nati are searching for clues in lifestyle codes between retro fashion and Kurdish military uniforms – cultural ascriptions are appropriated and rejected. SONNE is thus a statement of a generation free of self-pity and false morals.

For Kurdwin Ayub’s current fans, SONNE is certainly a first best-of, for the curious, an invitation to get to know a new signature style in Austrian film, for her critics, the obligatory next provocation – and for the Diagonale, the best opening film to look to the future after 25 years of Diagonale in Graz. We are extremely pleased to share the film with our audience!”
——— Sebastian Höglinger and Peter Schernhuber, Festival directors

 

Rimini, Ulrich Seidl © Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion

Gala premiere of Rimini by Ulrich Seidl

The day after the opening and the Austrian premiere of Kurdwin Ayub’s SONNE, for the second time, the Helmut List Halle will again become the unique setting for a prominent cinema premiere on April 6: Ulrich Seidl’s long awaited new feature film Rimini’s Austrian premiere can be seen at the festival as a one-off screening following its world premiere in the competition of the Berlinale.

Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas), once a celebrated hit singer, hunts for his faded fame in wintertime Rimini. Lost between permanent intoxication and concerts for bus tourists, his world begins to crumble when his adult daughter suddenly enters his life. She wants money from him, but he doesn’t have any. Detailed information on the film can be found on the Berlinale website here. Tickets for the public screening of SONNE at Annenhof Kino, taking place parallel to the opening, as well as for the gala premiere of Rimini in the Helmut List Halle will be available beginning March 30, 2022.

Presented by Ö1, Patronage: AVL Cultural Foundation and RTR Fernsehfonds Austria

 

Für die Vielen – Die Arbeiterkammer Wien, Constantin Wulff © Navigator Film

From the Berlinale to Graz: Constantin Wulff’s Für die Vielen – Die Arbeiterkammer Wien

The Diagonale will take place from April 5 to 10, 2022, marking its 25th appearance in Graz. In the context of the anniversary edition, also the new documentary by Constantin Wulff, who directed the festival in its first edition in Graz in 1998 together with Christine Dollhofer, will have its Austrian premiere: Für die Vielen – Die Arbeiterkammer Wien, filmed in direct cinema style, celebrates its world premiere in the Forum of the Berlinale and has been chosen for the competition of the Diagonale in Graz. Wulff sedately observes and accompanies the interplay of institution and society. Für die Vielen – Die Arbeiterkammer Wien is a precise portrait of a bureaucracy in service to solidarity, an institution as seismograph of a transforming world of work.

 

Kurdwin Ayub © Diagonale/Elsa Okazaki

Film, fame, festival – Kurdwin Ayub

Just like Wulff, also Kurdwin Ayub has been affiliated with the Festival of Austrian Film for many years. Since 2011, she has been represented many times and in nearly all sections of the Diagonale competition: from the performance miniatures Adele1 (AT 2011), Katzenjammer (AT 2011), sexy (AT 2013), and Video1 (AT 2014) to the animation films Die Intrige und die Archenmuscheln (AT 2010) and Armageddon (AT 2018) through the short feature Boomerang (AT 2018) and the (short) documentaries Familienurlaub (AT 2012), LOLOLOL (AT 2020), and Paradies! Paradies! (AT 2016).

The latter an intimate, in part bizarre and sober portrait of a generation about rooting and uprooting as the fate of a single family and simultaneous mass phenomenon of the 20th and 21st centuries was Ayub’s first long documentary, honored at the Diagonale’16 for best artistic cinematography: “With a great skill for observation and a talent for being at the right place at the right time, she consistently captures intimate key moments and, in doing so, also shows the courage to expose herself. An enthralling, tragicomic home movie about the pull of homesickness.” (Jury statement) Like Boomerang, Paradies! Paradies! will be available for viewing at the Diagonale’22 in the In Reference series. Ayub’s father can be seen in key roles in both films as well as in the current feature film SONNE.

Kurdwin Ayub was born in Iraq in 1990. She lives and works as director and screenwriter in Vienna. From 2008 to 2013 she studied painting and experimental animation film at the University of Applied Arts as well as performative art at the Academy of Fine Arts, both in Vienna.

 

On the opening film SONNE by Kurdwin Ayub

Three Viennese teens in hijabs twerk and sing a pop song. A YouTube video of it brings them overnight fame, mainly among Kurdish Muslims. Yesmin, the only one of the friends who is a Kurd, gradually begins to distance herself from her culture. Nati and Bella, on the other hand, seem fascinated by a world that is foreign to them. When the girls meet two young Kurdish patriots, the situation threatens to escalate. A film about youth between social media and self-discovery, a story about rebels.

“And just as the band Tic Tac Toe broke up very dramatically, I wanted these three friends to split up with a bang”, Kurdwin Ayub recently remarked in a talk with AFC – Austrian Films. The complete interview can be read here.

 

SONNE, the suffering of the young Twerkers – Catalogue text by Alexandra Zawia

“Oh life is bigger / It’s bigger than you.” Two teenagers roll around on a bed. They’re wearing hijabs. They laugh. From a cell phone, the song booms on: “And you are not me / The lengths that I will go to / The distance in your eyes.” Seductive gazes. They twerk their behinds into the camera, act like they’re kissing one another. Tongue play. “Oh no I’ve said too much / I set it up.” They push together in a corner of the room for a selfie with a third girl in the room, who films them with a cell phone. Six sexy gazes. “That’s me in the corner / That’s me in the spotlight / Losing my religion.” This opening scene of Kurdwin Ayub’s film SONNE already leaves no doubt: The “voice of a generation”? The politically most relevant perfection of “form and content”? In the words of R.E.M.: “Consider this the hint of the century.”

 

Rimini will be released on April 8, SONNE on September 9, and Für die Vielen – Die Arbeiterkammer Wien on September 23, 2022 in Austrian cinemas (Stadtkino Filmverleih).