The first filming for VIENNA’S CINEMAS took place in spring 2012. English Cinema Haydn was adding Theater 4, and Christian and Herbert Dörfler granted me entry. The last filming took place in the summer of 2018. Peter Kubelka spoke with me at the remarkable Invisible Cinema in the Austrian Film Museum.
In between I spent years in the archives and libraries of Vienna and with private collectors. I searched for people who could give me insight to the movie theater world. I found it in Anna Nitsch-Fitz, who has run the Breitenseer Cinema since 1969, and Gerhard Gruber, the best cinema piano player in the world. Cinema technician Horst Raimann opened the door to the projection booth at Gartenbau Cinema, who already worked there in 1960, when
Kirk Douglas appeared at the opening. In Ottakring, Vienna’s 16th district, Stefan Nehez guided me through the Central Theater for Cinematography, which his grandfather opened in 1906. Nehez describes a profession long gone – the film courier.
Christian and Herbert Dörfler not only showed me how a new cinema was built – at the English Cinema Haydn – but also made me aware of the tragic fate of the previous owners, the Jewish family, Honig. Klaus Christian Vögl
shines light on Red Vienna and its influence on cinema, along with the era after 1945, when the city-owned Cinema Operation Institute (Kiba) profited from Aryanization by the Nazis. Michaela Englert and Henry Ebner talk about the Admiral Kino now and then, one of the many movie theaters in Vienna that was Aryanized in 1938.
Florian Pausch took me through the landmark-protected former Eos Cinema and shows us photos from its last day in business in 2004. Harald and Peter Kotas remembered their grandfather and father Robert Kotas (1904–73), the architect of post-war cinemas in Vienna. From more than 40 cinemas he designed, only one remains: the Gartenbau Cinema. Peter Kubelka, with the help of an old camera, showed me how the movie theater – in the long line of cinema machines – has its place. Michael Stejskal from the Votiv Cinema described the multiplex building boom at the turn of the millennium. Christof Papousek spoke about the inception of the Cineplexx movie theater chain at the Apollo Cinema in 1992, and the worldwide situation today – in the new age movie theaters.
Finally, there’s the audience and the question: Why do I go to the movies? The Chronicle of Cinema Audiences (Das Blatt des Kinobesuchers) posed the question in 1923, and I ask it again almost a century later.
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.