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The Great Museum

Das große Museum

Austria | 2014 | 94 minutes | Johannes Holzhausen

Director Johannes Holzhausen gives us an all-access pass to the directors, preservationists, curators, and general staff of Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum over the course of one year while they renovate and re-brand one of Europe’s grandest treasures.

June 3, 2014
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival  
6:00 PM Date has passed
June 7, 2014
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival  
2:30 PM Date has passed
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Director Johannes Holzhausen brings an internationally renowned cultural institution to vivid life in this multi-dimensional portrait. Holzhausen eschews voiceover narration, conventional interviews, and a musical score in favor of a fluid journey through the sights and sounds that characterize Vienna’s sprawling Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Museum of Fine Arts or KMH). From the curators to the cleaning staff, every worker has a part to play in preserving the collections and attracting new visitors. Built for the Hapsburg Dynasty in 1891, the museum represents an ever-evolving portrait of the past as donors contribute new items to the inventory and staffers re-contextualize older holdings to speak to today’s public. Holzhausen’s unmediated approach provides privileged insights into the restoration process, marketing meetings, and hidden treasures packed away in storage rooms. Since the top brass gave him free reign, the documentarian—who studied art history for six years—captures the stresses and strains (including a few profane words from a frustrated restoration expert) as much as the joys and pleasures of the curatorial world. In his patient eyes and hands, The Great Museum feels as much like a work of art as any of the Kunsthistorisches’ priceless antiquities.

Director Biography

Johannes Holzhausen was born in Salzburg. After leaving school, he began a degree in art history at the University of Vienna in 1981. From 1987 to 1995 he studied at the Vienna Film Academy where he made his first documentary, Those Loved By God, which was met with critical acclaim at numerous film festivals. After graduating from university, he created his full-length documentary On the Seven Seas about a Soviet aircraft carrier, which premiered at the Berlinale in 2002. Holzhausen is co-founder and associate of Navigator Film, a Vienna-based production company for creative documentaries. From 2005 to 2008 he was also a member of the advisory board for films at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture.

Sponsored by W Seattle Hotel

Director: Johannes Holzhausen
Country: Austria
Year: 2014
Running Time: 94 minutes
Producer: Johannes Rosenberger
Screenplay: Johannes Holzhausen, Constantin Wulff
Cinematographers: Attila Boa, Joerg Burger
Editors: Dieter Pichler
Website: Official Film Website
Awards: Berlin Film Festival 2014 (Caligari Film Prize)
Filmography: On the Seven Seas (2002)
Language: German, English
HasSubTitles: Yes
Format: DCP
US Distributor: Kino Lorber
International Sales: Wide Management
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