Festival History: The first 10 years
For over ten years now, alongside the Viennale (Vienna Int. Film Festival) and the Diagonale (Festival of Austrian Film, Graz), CROSSING EUROPE has been one of the three most important film festivals in Austria.
Since the premiere of the CROSSING EUROPE Film Festival Linz in 2004, the direction of the festival has always been clear: young, idiosyncratic and contemporary European auteur cinema – although “young” does not necessarily relate to the age of the filmmakers; new forms of narrative or innovative artistic design also play a substantial role in the program selection, just as topical, socio-political themes or a confrontation with European reality characterize and enrich the program.
Whereas there was a total of 9,000 visitors at the first festival in 2004, in 2014 over 20,000 festival guests and film and music lovers visited the film screenings, exhibitions, talks, and the Nightline of the festival. The number of accreditations has also seen a steady growth over the ten years of the festival. In the year 2014, Linz welcomed 700 professional guests from Austria and abroad.
Central program tracks like the European Panorama Fiction, European Panorama Documentary and the Competition European Cinema (first or second feature film) with Euro 10,000 in prize money, Tributes (surveys of work by individual directors or filmmakers, including Matteo Garrone, Marc Recha, Ursula Maier etc.), and Specials (including films focusing on Working Worlds, Architecture and Film or from the realm of music and youth culture) have been permanent features of the program since the beginning of the festival. The same is true of the Nightline with musical live acts, which takes place every evening at the festival center OK, and the program section Local Artists, from which a regional film or video work is awarded with the CROSSING EUROPE Award Local Artist with a total value of 7,000.- Euro.
The year 2006 brought two new changes: one was the introduction of the ray Audience Award, in which the audience votes for the winning film; the other is that, in addition to numerous sponsors, local supporters and cooperation partners, since 2006 CROSSING EUROPE is also supported by the MEDIA program of the European Union (since 2014: CREATIVE EUROPE program).
2008 was marked by a small anniversary: in honor of its fifth birthday, CROSSING EUROPE not only presented selected positions of European (horror) genre film in the hugely popular section Night Sight, but also benefited, following the remodeling of the OK “Offenes Kulturhaus”, from the refurbished infrastructure with rich gastronomy offers and especially the long awaited new cinema theater in Moviemento.
In the exceptional year of culture 2009, CROSSING EUROPE presented itself a day longer and with a total of 177 films from 33 countries, which were shown in 180 programs, with about 130 directors and film guests present in person to discuss with the audience.
In 2010 CROSSING EUROPE is expanded with a program track on the theme of “Architecture and Film” (in cooperation with AFO-Architecture Forum Upper Austria). In addition, starting this year, the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) has acquired the Austrian TV rights for a documentary film from the festival program. In 2010 and 2011 the selected films were awarded with the CROSSING EUROPE Award European Documentary (powered by ORF).
2011 was a very successful year for CROSSING EUROPE. In total, the program comprised 160 hand-picked feature films, documentaries and short films from 35 different countries; about 140 directors and film guests were present. With 680 accredited professional guests – out of 19,000 festival visitors - , the interest of the film industry and media in CROSSING EUROPE was greater than ever before. This festival was characterized most of all by networking and cooperation – at both an international and a local level: there was a program collaboration again with the Int. Film Festival Rotterdam (2009: Young Turkish Cinema), so the film history series RED WESTERNS was presented. A guest for the first time was EUXXL FORUM with an international industry meeting. Also a premiere in 2011 was the CROSSING EUROPE Festival TV (in cooperation with Kino5, Nisi Masa, Art University Linz and DORF TV).
The NEW VISION AWARD powered by Silhouette as well as the AUDIENCE AWARD powered by LG were awarded for the first time.
In 2012 the official program presented the festival community with a total of 146 selected feature films, documentaries and short films from 43 different countries – of which there were 96 Austrian premieres (including 22 world premieres). About 21,000 festival guests and film and music enthusiasts attended the film screenings, exhibitions, talks and the Nightline of the festival. This means that CROSSING EUROPE can register the most successful festival year in its existence.
One reason for the audience growth is certainly the new festival venue – the only recently inaugurated Ursulinensaal in the Upper Austrian Culture Quarter. This means that the problems of a lack of space now belong to the past, and the strategy of setting up two program slots in the hall, which seats nearly 400 people, worked out perfectly. In addition, with the completion of the Upper Austrian Culture Quarter, the festival district around the OK “Offenes Kulturhaus”, Moviemento, City Kino and Kapu is now even more attractive.
Once again, it provided a festival atmosphere that is invigorating and relaxed at the same time. Particularly the interest of the young audience was tremendous; due to cooperations with universities and academies in Austria and abroad – e.g. Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe – a huge number of film students were drawn to Linz.
Two FEDEORA juries, each consisting of three film critics from the FEDEORA critics’ association (Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean, www.fedeora.eu), presented the FEDEORA Award for the first time in 2012 to one of the selected documentary films from the section PANORAMA. Also for the first time a selection of European animation films was presented successfully at the festival – IT’S ANIMATED included three feature length animations as well as two short film programs.
In 2013 the anniversary edition of CROSSING EUROPE – 10 years! – came to a successful conclusion. In its tenth year, the festival has definitely arrived as one the leading film culture events in Austria. Roughly 20.000 visitors were counted, who enthusiastically stormed the festival events. The Upper Austrian Culture Quarter blossomed with vitality for six days, and the crowd of international visitors brought an open cosmopolitan flair to Linz.
As an anniversary special CROSSING EUROPE introduced the program section PLAY IT AGAIN. For this section the audience was asked to select their five favourite films from the last nine years of the festival. The festival cooperation FRESH DANUBE FILMS presented six productions from the Danube region (Serbia, Croatia and Austria) at this year’s festival edition. 2013 for the first time the CREATIVE REGION Music Award (prize money € 1,500) powered by CREATIVE REGION Linz & Upper Austria has been awarded.
In fall 2013 CROSSING EUROPE received an award by the federal state of Upper Austria, the OÖ Landespreis für Initiative Kulturarbeit.