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Film Industry

Roll of film ©ässchen


Austria's film industry has an eventful past.  In recent years it has been attracting increasing attention once again. The latest success stories include awards and nominations at festivals in Venice and Cannes. Radical and entertaining at the same time, this could be a description of the typical Austrian film.


Tradition and Innovation

New Austrian Film

The domestic film industry today epitomises outstanding diversity and originality. Biting satires and socially critical documentaries effortlessly carry forward the new blood of the successful traditions. Nominations and awards at Cannes and Venice, and numerous awards at international film festivals attest to the profile of new Austrian film.

Cutting-edge - Avant garde film

One of Austria's key contributions to international film history lies in avant garde film. The non commercial, experimental film genre exploits filming techniques outside established traditions. There has been a history of modern film since the beginning of the fifties, which laid the groundwork for the successes of today.

Sectors and Structure

In terms of absolute size, Austria's film industry is a small player on the European stage. In terms of artistic acclaim, Austria's film industry is a leading light.

Value Creation Chain

The value creation chain of the film industry covers creation, production, processing and reprography through to sales and rentals. In addition to film, the DVD and video formats also count as part of the film industry.

In the creative field the borders between cinema, TV, advertising, artistic and short films are often blurred. Cinema production accounts for just around a tenth of total film output. TV films account for the largest share by far. The most important commissioner, producer and patron in Austria is ORF, the public broadcasting corporation.

The domestic film industry is characterised by the many small companies and freelancers alongside the limited number of institutions which provide financing and support. Another defining feature is the intensive interaction with the advertising industry and the multimedia industry.

High-Tech Austria

Austria is a high-tech country and the creative specialists have stepped up the pace in recent years with rapid technological developments. Here are just a few examples:

  • ARRI Rental , the revolutionary 35mm film camera
  • Riha Film , developer of innovative film equipment for special purposes

Television and Radio

The market for radio and TV in Austria is relatively small and was therefore only opened up for private broadcasters very late (Radio:1995; TV:2002). ORF (in German) has annual revenues of EUR 800 million, generated through advertising and licence fees. With the two channels ORF1 and ORF2, the public broadcaster still retains its dominance.

The Viennese broadcaster ATVplus (in German) is currently the only private competitor and has an average coverage level of around 3.2%. There is strong competition from foreign programmes which are accessed via cable or satellite. Compared internationally, ORF is in twentieth place among European TV broadcasters.

ORF is the most important commissioner, producer and patron of the Austrian film industry.

Creation and Production

Austrian documentaries, short films and dramas are more present than ever at film festivals and win key awards every year. Most of these successes are independent projects that attest to the remarkable creative potential and know-how of the producers.

The creative heads of the film industry

  • One of the most successful Austrian films to date is "Die Klavierspielerin" (The Pianist) by Michael Haneke, with ticket sales of around 2.5 million worldwide.
  • Ulrich Seidls critical production "Hundstage (2001)"(Dog Days) is a prime example of socio-critical drama.
  • Socio-critical documentaries include the works of Erwin Wagenhofer ("We Feed the World", 2005), Hubert Sauper ("Darwins Alptraum" - Darwin's Nightmare, 2004) and Nikolaus Geyrhalter ("Unser täglich Brot" - Our Daily Bread, 2006) which have generated cinematic success and won awards.
  • The challenging balancing act between making films which are both demanding and also have popular appeal has been managed in recent years by Wolfgang Murnberger ("Komm, süßer Tod", 2002, "Silentium", 2004), Michael Glawogger ("Nacktschnecken", 2004, "Slumming", 2006) and Hans Weingartner ("Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei" - The Edukators).
  • Other successful directors in recent years include Barbara Albert ("Nordrand", 1999, "Fallen", 2006), Elisabeth Scharang, Mirjam Unger, Kurt Palm, Jessica Hausner, Virgil Widrich, Florian Flicker and Ruth Beckermann. These directors have gained international acclaim, also at film festivals, with films that cover a variety of genres.

Feature film production

Large film production companies in Austria include:

Successful young film companies include:

Commissioned productions dominate the market and are much more prolific than independent productions by freelance filmmakers, outnumbering them by more than 9 to 1. ORF plays an important role in Austria as commissioner, producer and patron. The close interdependence with TV is especially developed in Austria, in contrast to other countries.

Advertising film

Advertising films for cinema and TV hold a key position as an industry commissioner, accounting for 20% of the film industry's total production value.

Many Austrian film production companies offer comprehensive packages for advertising, commercial, documentary and dramatic films. Nevertheless, there are many production companies who are specialised specifically in advertising films and who are closely linked with the media and communication industries.

The industry book 'creation/production' is regularly published by Falter publishing house and offers the most comprehensive overview of companies in the fields of creation and production, including all service providers and subcontractors. The Internet version of creation/production (in German) contains more than 7500 data entries for the film and communication industry and is regularly updated.

Cinema Industry

Advertising, rental and distribution of a film ensures the value chain which generates hundreds of millions of euros and creates numerous jobs. The gross production value in Austria is currently around EUR 800 million, the resulting gross value creation is worth around EUR 420 million.
Foreign films have a market share of around 90% of the cinema industry in Austria and mostly originate from the USA. In recent years domestic cinema production accounted for an average 8-10% of films showing for the first time in Austria. Of these, six Austrian productions managed to pass the 100,000 ticket mark across Austria.

The globally dominated situation is still reflected in the structure of the distribution and rental market. From the approximately 20 distribution and rental companies which exist in Austria, the largest are subsidiaries of major foreign companies: Buena Vista, Centfox, UIP, Warner and Sony Pictures.

The largest Austrian distribution company and simultaneously the largest cinema operator in Austria is Konstantin Film (in German) . Filmladen-Verleih (in German) is the largest sales and rental agency for Austrian films. Along with Filmladen, Polyfilm (in German) and Stadtkino (in German) are the national screeners with the highest market share. Hoanzl (in German) is the most important distributor for Austrian film and cabaret shoots.

Representation and Support

Representation of Interests

You can find a detailed list of Austrian and international associations on the website of theFAMA - Fachverband der Film- und Musikindustrie .

Subsidies and Grants

Public subsidies and grants from the state and the provinces amount to around EUR 40 million. The Austrian film institute administers the state funds and additional funding comes from the federal culture budget. The film institute manages the funds raised by TV in conjunction with ORF. In terms of funding for provinces and towns, Vienna has the highest amount available by some distance, with funding of around EUR 8 million.

Austrian film abroad

The Austrian Film Commission (AFC) is responsible for promoting Austrian films abroad and supporting film exports. This is the contact partner and service centre both for the national and international industry.

The initiative Location Austria promotes Austria as an ideal backdrop for foreign film production and offers support in practical areas.
Doris Rothauer / Büro für Transfer