The first filming for VIENNA’S CINEMAS took place in spring 2012. At English Cinema Haydn a new cinema was under construction – theater 4 – and Christian and Herbert Dörfler granted me entry. The last filming took place in the summer of 2018. Peter Kubelka, whom I had met by pure accident at a screening at the Österreichisches Filmmuseum, told me about the Invisible Cinema. A few hours later – in the middle of the night – I knew I needed to include this last story.
In between I spent years researching in the archives and libraries of Vienna and with private collectors. I also searched for people who could give me (and the audience) an inside view of the movie theater world.
I found exactly what I needed in Anna Nitsch-Fitz, who has run the Breitenseer Lichtspiele since 1969, and Gerhard Gruber, the “best piano player in the world.” Cinema technician Horst Raimann opened the door to the projection booth at Gartenbaukino – and the stories of the widescreen formats, Cinerama and Cinemiracle, as well as the 70mm opening with Kirk Douglas in 1960. Stefan Nehez brought to life the Zentral Kino (1906 – 1966), its origin in the Prater, and the working life of a film courier in the streets of Vienna. Christian and Herbert Dörfler let me witness the building of a new movie theater, and recounted the painful story of the building and the tragic fate of the previous owners, the Honig family. Klaus Christian Vögl shared his unpublished manuscript, Kinos in Österreich 1938 – 45, which led to the files of the Nazi Reichsfilmkammer branch office in Vienna. In an interview, Vögl shines light on Red Vienna and its impact on cinema, as well as the era after 1945, and how the city-owned Kinobetriebsanstalt (Cinema Operation Institute) profited. Michaela Englert and Henry Ebner discussed the Admiral Kino now and then, one of the many movie theaters that was aryanized in 1938.
Florian Pausch, projectionist and collector of cinema memorabilia (Friedl & Chaloupka), photographed the landmark protected Eos Kino in 2004, on its last day in business. Harald and Peter Kotas told me about their grandfather and father, Robert Kotas (1904–73), “the architect of post-war cinemas” – only one still exists: the Gartenbaukino. Peter Kubelka, with the help of an old camera, showed me where the movie theater – in the long line of machines that make up a film – has its place. Michael Stejskal, talked about his early years as a film distributor and owner of the Votiv Kino, and how around the turn of the millennium the multiplex building boom hit Vienna and changed everything. Christof Papousek, Chief Financial Officer of the Constantin group of companies, explained the inception of the Cineplexx movie theater chain with the Apollo Kino in 1992, and the situation today – “in the new age movie theaters”. The audience answered the question: „Why do I go to the movies?” Das Blatt des Kinobesuchers (The Chronicle of Cinema Audiences)(1923 – 25) first asked this question, and almost a hundred years later I posed it again.
Archival materials are an integral part of this film.
– With archival film I highlight the Austrian Newsreel collection at the Filmarchiv Austria, the film documents of the Österreichische Filmmuseum about Vienna in the 1920s, as well as the collection of the Filmarchiv der media wien on the development of public transportation.
– Photo treasures include, among many others, findings in Thomas Jelinek’s private collections, Florian Pausch’s cinema slide collection, the Bildarchiv Austria, the photo collections of the Vienna City Library and the Wien Museum, as well as the work of Herwig Jobst, who in 1980 photographed every cinema in Vienna. He also introduced me to the Tagblatt-Archiv at the Wien Bibliothek.
– I found a rich poster collection at the Wien Bilbliothek. Newspapers and magazines such as Das Kino-Journal (1908 – 1938), the Kinematographische Rundschau (1909 – 1916) and Der Kinobesitzer (1917 – 1919) were in the holdings of the Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek and in the Theatermuseum.
– Exciting text documents such as The development of Viennese Cinema, a manuscript from 1929 about early cinema in 1896, The Film Courier at Work, and The Grand Opening of the FORUM Kino are performed by voice actors.
Filmarchiv Austria, Filmarchiv der media wien, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Theatermuseum, Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv, Wien Bibliothek etc.
Thomas Jelinek, Florian Pausch, Herwig Jobst etc.
Angeschlossen und gleichgeschaltet, Kino in Österreich 1938 – 45,
Böhlau Verlag (2018).
Friedl & Chaloupka (1934 – 1979) was the only Austrian company who built 35 mm film projectors. In the Breitnseer Lichtspiele they are still in use. One film projector is exhibited In the lobby of the Admiral Kino.
Reference to this chronicle and question I found in Franz Grafl, Praterbude und Filmpalast: Wiener Kino-Lesebuch, Verlag für Gesellschaftskritik (1993).