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This report is taken from PN Review 49, Volume 12 Number 5, May - June 1986.

Report from Vienna James Malpas
The film festival dominates the cultural life of the city in alternating years with pictorial art under the auspices of the Biennale. The latter organization (for want of a more accurate word) is responsible for the cinematic displays, which accordingly possess all the labyrinthine and oblique qualities characteristic of this city.

Although beautifully, elaborately and minutely catalogued and advertised, the films themselves are often bewilderingly difficult to track down; as one wag put it, there was more chance of making a film on location in Venice than of seeing one. Reasons for this are no clearer than anything else here. At least when great scaffoldings and temporary screens appear in certain unfortunate campi one cannot miss the venue; but these failed to materialize this year, perhaps on account of the large swarms of mosquitoes who show an exemplary interest in cinema (or at least its lights) and are never less than a distraction - although their buzz is worse than their bite.

Deprived of open-air viewing, one has to make do with the regular, rather grotty cinemas, unless the strategically-timed vaporetto strike is braved by those without boats of their own to see the new releases in hotel-land on the Lido. The method of obtaining tickets is convoluted: they are normally released in the hours preceding the showing. The average queuing time (the word 'queue' is used loosely . . .) is forty minutes, and sometimes one is then told that the showing is already sold out. ...


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