The Struggle of Freedom

22 01 2009

p1000445Photos: Film Director Arash T. Riahi, January 2009. Photo Credit: Reinhard Bimashofer

Already from a distance, people passing by at the Gartenbaukino on Dec. 10 could notice the commotions at one of Vienna’s traditional 1960s cinema. With 736 seats, the last surviving large one-screen cinema (Einsaalkino) in Vienna was host to a special film preview, and indeed the seats were filling fast, judging by the long cues at the ticket office.

SOS Mitmensch, the Austrian human rights and anti-racism pressure group, was the host of this special film preview of the Austrian-French production Ein Augenblick Freiheit by the Iranian-born Austrian Film Director Arash T. Riahi. In a loose series of film previews, including the one tonight, under the heading of ‘Drei Filme fürs Bleiben’, the organization aimed to promote the legal framework of a right of permanent residency for refugees. And Ein Augenblick Freiheit translates the political demand into powerful pictures.

Riahi’s film was first shown at the Worldfilm Festival in Montréal in August 2008, where it picked up the award for Best First Feature Film. With almost a dozen of international awards in his pocket, including best Austrian film at the Viennale in October 2008, Ein Augenblick Freiheit started in Austrian cinemas on Jan. 9, 2009 .

Evidently, the film preview in December had something special, I noticed. Not only was the date set deliberately – Dec. 10 was the 60th anniversary of the declaration of Human rights by the United Nations – but the whole event, the screening and the following panel discussion and live performance of the Austrian-born Kurdish musician Karuan in the foyer, who composed and performed the soundtrack, offered much more than just a good evening at the movies. Read the rest of this entry »