As is already known, sponsors Longevity Labs+ is sponsoring this year's Austrian Film Awards. Why this choice for sponsorship, Mr. Bijelac?
Vedran Bijelac: Especially in these extraordinary times, in my opinion, especially the domestic art scene has not received the attention and support it deserves. At the end of last year, I spoke on the phone with a photographer friend who said a sentence that stuck with me: without art, we are nothing. It hit me because on the same day, one of our scientists said, Without health, we are nothing. I believe that art and health also go hand in hand in a certain way. We as a scientific company, with our clinical research and revolutionary study results, in a way give people hope. Hope for a healthier, longer life, and art takes this idea even further.
Ms. Albrecht-Stadler, as the new managing director of the Academy of Austrian Film, how do you see the role of art in the current times?
Katharina Albrecht-StadlerI find and have always found the role of art in life infinitely important. I believe that art and culture are not just a cherry on the cake for a society, but a very essential cornerstone, and that has also been particularly evident in the last crisis. What would have happened if we hadn't had the Netflix series or movies available in the lockdown? Then civil war-like conditions would probably have broken out (laughs). I don't want to exclude any genre of art: Music, literature, film. I believe that culture needs just as much attention and support as any other sector. After all, art and culture are not only a subsidized sector, but also a serious economic factor in society. In Austria alone, there are an infinite number of companies working in the creative sector; in Europe, billions are turned over by the creative sector. This means that as a creator of art and culture, you don't have to be an intercessor, but are an important pillar of this society, both economically and ideally.
Does representing Austria internationally as a rather small country also play a role here? After all, we have won awards like Oscars in the meantime?
Katharina Albrecht-StadlerAbsolutely! That is definitely one of my concerns. We don't have to hide. We have Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and winners. For being a small country, we have a strong narrative force. I think sometimes maybe even the recognition abroad is a higher recognition than at home (laughs). I see it as part of my role to be an ambassador for Austrian film - both internally and externally. Personality-wise, I'm more of a bridge-building person, and I try to forge partnerships here. There are also a few initiatives that are being created right now that haven't existed in this form before, which I'm really happy about.
Mr. Bijelac, building bridges, forging partnerships, leading a company from the small country of Austria into the world - there are many connections here. Another reason why Longevity Labs+ is sponsoring the Austrian Film Award?
Vedran Bijelac: Of course! Michael Haneke or Stefan Ruzowitzky have done it before with their Oscars. We followed suit and won the Pharma Oscar in Germany last year. We at Longevity Labs+ are the pioneers in Spermidine research, with a new holistic approach to how we live health. We are working with research institutions around the world and it's just nice when you are a small country to get this attention and be a pioneer; which hopefully will manifest itself around the world.
Ms. Albrecht-Stadler, you are relatively new in your role. How does this renewal, which you are experiencing right now in the middle of the Corona crisis, feel to you?
Katharina Albrecht-Stadler: I am totally happy (laughs). For me it has been an absolute lottery win to get this great job in this crisis and also to see how positive the response is from all sides. Also to see how constant the support of all our sponsors is. There is a great deal of openness and cooperation. The current pause also gives me a lot of opportunities to push things forward. For example, we have now launched the Academy Talks, which have been very well received.
So people are in a positive mood and open to renewal?
Katharina Albrecht-Stadler: Of course. I see that there is great cohesion despite all the divergences. Art and culture are important to everyone and we all want to take off again together.
Where do you see difficulties?
Katharina Albrecht-StadlerThere are very well-developed corona concepts from cultural institutions. The film industry, for example, was also able to film last year because of the good security concepts. That's great, but the problem is at the other end of the scale: the cinemas that have been closed for months. It is a pity that the art and cultural institutions were not allowed to open for such a long time despite well-considered precautionary measures.
The motto of the cooperation with the Austrian Film Award is "You write the script of your life". Why is that?
Vedran Bijelac: Health is more and more a topic that we put into our own hands. That's why the motto fits so well. We need to think in a new and different way. The core of our scientific work is cell renewal, or in other words autophagy. We need this to function optimally and stay healthy. But we have it in our own hands whether we follow these paths. The same is true in art. The way we consume art is also renewing itself. The messages that are being shown to us in film right now in the Corona era are changing. It's a constant change, and it's nice to go a new way with a partner like the Academy of Austrian Film, which should have a signal effect for all people.
Katharina Albrecht-StadlerI would like to add that the saying "the script of your life" also has a lot to do with personal responsibility. I think that is also an important learning from the last year, that you don't just blindly believe everything you read on the Internet or elsewhere, but that you find your own way. Reflect on what is right and what is wrong, and then act on your own responsibility. And I think that's where we meet very well.
What else does the Academy of Austrian Film take away from the crisis?
Katharina Albrecht-StadlerThe topic of sustainability. We were one of the first companies to be awarded the eco-label in the event sector. Corona has shown that we won't get through in the future if we don't also pay attention to environmental aspects. We are committed to ensuring that green producing exists in Austria - that films are produced in an environmentally friendly way. I think it has become clear over the past year what is really important and where our priorities should lie. Taking care of our health and our family, and shaping our lives in a way that makes sense - precisely because they are finite - are certainly among the things that we have all taken with us.
Vedran BijelacAnd above all, to value things more.
Mr. Bijelac, this appreciation of life is also at the core of the DNA of Longevity Labs+.
Vedran BijelacAbsolutely. I work out of an intrinsic motivation, because I wanted to show people how important it is to value yourself and your health. I've seen this over and over again with friends and family: Especially in times when there is constant anxiety, people appreciate the free time they have available all the more and think about how they should really use it. I, for example, spend it with my family, listening to beautiful music or watching a movie.
Ms. Albrecht-Stadler, for all culture enthusiasts who now want to spend their time with good Austrian films, what tips do you have for them?
Katharina Albrecht-StadlerI would definitely recommend the KINO VOD CLUB . This platform was set up to help domestic art house cinemas. Whenever you stream a movie there, a portion goes to your favorite theater. There you can find insanely great Austrian and also European films. We also cooperate with this platform for the voting process for the Austrian Film Award. Some of the nominated films can already be seen there, and all the award-winning films will follow in the course of the year.
What other recommendations do you have for culture enthusiasts?
Katharina Albrecht-Stadler: On April 28 at 11:00 a.m., the nominees of this year's Austrian Film Awards in 16 categories were announced in a press conference at the Synchron Stage. This could be followed live on ORF TVthek or on our website. And on July 8, the Austrian Film Awards ceremony will take place. This year we got the Riahi brothers, two really great Austrian-Iranian directors, to host the evening. The ORF is also cooperating even more closely with us this year to provide a live stream and a live recording of the film award, thus setting an example for the industry together with us. We will share all links to the live streams on our website (https://www.oesterreichische-filmakademie.at/).
Any final additions?
Katharina Albrecht-Stadler: I am very happy that the Academy of Austrian Film and Longevity Labs+ have met with this spirit of wanting to move things and are going down a common path here.
Vedran Bijelac: I'll sign that. (laughs)