The Austrian newsreels form a central part of the nation’s audio-visual heritage. A weekly news format screened in movie theaters, the newsreels, which covered political, social and cultural events, contain a wealth of emblematic footage capturing key moments in the history of the First and Second Republic. The FAA’s collection of newsreels spans almost half a century, from 1933 through 1981. With the advent and ascendancy of television, the newsreels gradually lost their status as the dominant visual news format. A selection of the most important materials has been made available on a series of year-by-year DVDs published by the FAA.
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Österreich in Bild und Ton (1933-1938)
From June 1933 to March 1938, the austro-fascist government commissioned the weekly news format ÖSTERREICH IN BILD UND TON [Austria in image and sound] as part of a multi-media propaganda strategy that sought to give legitimacy to the authoritarian regime. The newsreels were intended to create the image of a new, patriotic Austria in order to strengthen the sense of an Austrian national identity and thereby avert the threat of “annexation“ to Nazi Germany. Today, this corpus of newsreels, which has survived almost completely, is regarded as a seminal primary source for the history of the austro-fascist corporatist state.
ÖSTERREICH IN BILD UND TON (Signation)
Though constituting a major primary source for the study of Austria’s history, the OSTMARK newsreels have remained largely unknown to this day. After Hitler’s troops had invaded Austria, the OSTMARK WOCHENSCHAU was quickly established as the “local” version of the DEUTSCHE WOCHENSCHAU. Ironically, the creators of the OSTMARK newsreels were able to use the very same production structures from which had sprung the corporatist newsreel ÖSTERREICH IN BILD UND TON. Due to the fact that for decades the OSTMARK newsreels had been practically kept under lock and key, even specialists in the field had been unaware of their existence until recently. The FAA successfully campaigned for the repatriation of these documents from Germany and has made them available to the public since then. The OSTMARK newsreels contain spectacular footage shot during and after Austria’s “annexation“ to Germany in March 1938, e.g. segments that show how enthusiastically the German troops were welcomed by the Austrian population.
Welt im Film (1945-1949)
The British-American weekly newsreel WELT IM FILM was produced for the German-speaking occupied territories, with some segments in the local editions specifically tailored to Austrian audiences. WELT IM FILM was part of an endeavor to “reeducate” a population that for years had been fed a steady diet of the DEUTSCHE WOCHENSCHAU by propagating a new, positive view of democracy. After the AUSTRIA WOCHENSCHAU was established in 1949, WELT IM FILM, along with the newsreels produced by the other occupying powers, ceased production. Film Archive Austria has made selections from WELT IM FILM available to the public through its DVD edition “Austrian Weekly Newsreels.”
WELT IM FILM (Signation)
Austria Wochenschau (1949-1982)
The establishment of an independent Austrian weekly newsreel was the subject of a treaty signed by the Austrian government and the occupying powers in June 1949. The first edition of the AUSTRIA WOCHENSCHAU was screened in theaters on November 11th, 1949. Owned by the Republic of Austria, this news format, which ran between eight and ten minutes, was intended to create positive images of Austria which would be conducive to the development of a national identity. Between 1954 and 1971, there was also another weekly newsreel, entitled the WELTJOURNAL. These weekly newsreels are among the key documents of Austria’s audio-visual history. In 1998, after years of uncertainty, the archives of the AUSTRIA WOCHENSCHAU were finally incorporated into the holdings of the Film Archive Austria. A selection of the material was released on DVD in our year-by-year edition “Austrian Weekly Newsreels.”
AUSTRIA WOCHENSCHAU (Signation)
Fox Tönende Wochenschau (1950-1974)
From 1950 onward, the newsreel FOX TÖNENDE WOCHENSCHAU – successor to the British-American occupying powers’ MPEA TÖNENDE WOCHENSCHAU – featured segments specifically made for Austrian audiences. A pivotal figure in this venture was the Viennese cameraman, director and producer Otto Pammer (1926-2008). Pammer filmed the signing of the Austrian State Treaty (1955), the national uprising in Hungary (1956), the first Vienna Opera Ball after the war (1956) and the Prague Spring (1968), to name only a few of his exploits. In 2008, Film Archive Austria acquired Pammer’s archive and was thus able to supplement its historically important collections of weekly newsreels with essential footage from the years of reconstruction.
FOX TÖNENDE WOCHENSCHAU (Signation)
Scope und Hallo Kino (1982-1994)
By the 1980s, it had been obvious for some time that cinema and its place in society were going through some major changes. The first urban multiplex theaters, which were mainly targeted at younger audiences, opened around 1980. SCOPE, which was launched in 1982, was conceived as a weekly newsreel in the shape of a movie magazine. In its early years, SCOPE was something like an Austrian MTV, with segments about movies, songs from the Austrian music scene and a weekly event calendar. HALLO KINO started in 1985 as a sort of celebrity magazine interspersed with movie trailers. Hosted by public figures from the world of sports, politics and culture, HALLO KINO was at first produced on a weekly, then bi-weekly and finally, toward the tail-end of its existence (1994), only a monthly basis.