Newhard Does Vienna

November 2nd, 2011 § 0 comments

Zach here. Before I get into any of what I’m about to say just click play on the video below to set the mood for the rest of the post.

Alright, so I just got back from the Viennale last night and am happy to say that I think I am finally comfortable spelling viennale.

I knew that this festival would be special from the moment I arrived. The hangover was only just beginning to set in (I’d spent the earlier hours of that same morning researching the role of Parisian wino) as I checked into the Vienna Hilton and, en route to the elevator, was suddenly surrounded by the cast of a fever dream: a group of about four or five weathered old Austrian faces extending glossy prints of my own photograph and calmly repeating “├Âttograph. ├Âttograph.” The only explanation that occurs to me is that these characters were hired by the festival as an ego-boosting measure for incoming guests.

That same night was my first screening. Fresh from my first taste of typical smoke-and-piano-music-filled Viennese cafe, I rolled up to the Urania – a beautiful riverfront theater and former site of the emperor’s private observatory. Not joking.

Inside the Urania I was greeted not only by the throng of lobby loiterers responsible for the sold-out house and formidable standby list, but also by the delightfully British critic and moderator Neil Young. Everyone took their seats and I stumbled nervously through an introduction, noting that I hadn’t faced such a large audience since about eighteen months ago. Ducking out of the theater as the lights went down, a local drunk appeared out of nowhere and shouted at me in German with several dashes of “fuck you” thrown in for flavor. He was escorted outside by an employee and I was given a conciliatory bottle of sparkling water. Eighty minutes later I re-entered the theater as the credits rolled and was surprised to find that almost the entire audience was staying seated for the Q&A. This of course turned out to be standard for every movie that screened at the festival, but that first night it gave me the confidence that, alongside Mr. Young’s insightful moderation, was ultimately responsible for what was, in my opinion, the best Q&A I’ve ever done.

And that was all just the first night. The next few days were a lovely autumnal tapestry of awesome movies, intelligent company, and lavish meals…including one that was maybe a bit too lavish in that it left me dangerously close to too-drunk-to-Q&A territory. I did my best regardless and am sure that only a small handful of Viennese locals now consider me a clown.

Anyway, it was a great time. I got rid of a bunch of screeners for both new Newhard joints and, most importantly, I made a shitload of facebook friends.

And now this is gonna be me tomorrow.

Kill me!

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