Austria Celebrates Israel at 75 with Spectacular Cultural Events

 Shosha Goren at the Austrian International Storytelling Festival in Graz, held at the Schauspielhaus. (photo credit: Georg Obetzhofer / Austrian International Storytelling Festival)
Shosha Goren at the Austrian International Storytelling Festival in Graz, held at the Schauspielhaus.
(photo credit: Georg Obetzhofer / Austrian International Storytelling Festival)

The Embassy of Israel in Austria marked the momentous occasion of Israel's 75th anniversary with a series of vibrant cultural events, including movies, concerts, shows, and the prestigious Israel Friendship Award ceremony. The festivities brought together high-ranking dignitaries, artists, and the public to celebrate the longstanding friendship and cultural ties between Austria and Israel.

The Independence Day reception and the Israel Friendship Award ceremony at the radiant Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna saw the performance of a string quartet from the orchestra Camerata Masaot Wien (CMW). Israeli conductor and CMW director Amit Rosenblum specifically arranged Israeli and Jewish songs for the string quartet that performed at the Award Ceremony and throughout the reception that followed.

The Israel Friendship Award, an award given to outstanding personalities for their significant contribution to promote Austria-Israel relations in the fields of culture, science, economy, tourism and sport, was presented to Nobel Prize Laureate and Wolf Prize Laureate Prof. DDr. Anton Zeilinger and Vice President of the Austrian Economic Chamber Mrs. Martha Schultz by Ambassador Mordechai Rodgold, Deputy Chief of Mission Maya Karmely Sommer, and Consul Herzel Edri. Among the high-ranking guests were the President of the Republic of Austria and the Ministers of Economy, Defense, Climate Action & Technology, and Science & Education. 

In the field of music, the Embassy promoted several concerts by Israeli bands and artists, such as Yemen Blues at the Salam Orient Festival, the Israeli duo Yonina, and singer-songwriter Naama Guggenheim. Further, the Embassy promoted two classical concerts led by Israeli soprano Assia Davidov and her artist collective ADAM, that took place in honor of Israel 75 and were attended by Ambassador Mordechai Rodgold and Consul Herzel Edri. 

Credit: Embassy of Israel in Austria
Credit: Embassy of Israel in Austria

The Embassy also participated in promoting a concert in collaboration with the Polish embassy to mark the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising..

The love for Israeli cinema was evident as the Embassy continued to support the Jewish Film Club, a successful project showcasing Israeli films initiated by Prof. Frank Stern.  The club celebrated Israel's independence anniversary with a screening of Avi Nesher's "Image of Victory," which was followed by a lively film discussion with the Ambassador, the DCM, and the Consul.

Credit: Embassy of Israel in Austria
Credit: Embassy of Israel in Austria

During the International Women’s Month, the Embassy and the Deputy Chief of Mission engaged in a number of events celebrating women and their significant contribution to culture, science and civil society. A special highlight were the screenings of a series of films by Israeli women directors titled “The Female Challenge” in collaboration with the University of Vienna. The film series kicked off in March with the screening of Smadar Zamir’s documentary “In the Director’s Chair Sits a Woman” followed by a Q&A with the director herself. Among the films screened between March and May were “Aya – Imagined Autobiography” by Michal Bat-Adam, “Before Tomorrow” by Ellida Geira, and “Gett”, by Ronit Elkabetz.

The grand finale of the cultural extravaganza was the Vienna Jewish Film Festival, held under the theme "Israel at 75 - Utopia and Reality."

 The Ambassador attended and spoke at the opening night of the festival featuring the Israeli drama-comedy “Karaoke”. The movies screened throughout the festival included “Laila in Haifa” by Amos Gitai, “Children of Peace” by Maayan Schwartz, “Matchmaking” by Erez Tadmor, “The Other Widow” by Ma’Ayan Rypp, and “Sand Flakes” by Gitit Kabiri and Yahel Kabiri.  Directors attended the festival, engaging in lively Q&A sessions with the captivated audiences. Additionally, former member of the Knesset Dr. Einat Wilf joined a panel discussion during the festival and conducted an interview with Austria's largest newspaper Kronen Zeitung. 

In June, the short film "Common Ground," which was written and developed in cooperation with young aspiring filmmakers from Israel and Austria, celebrated its Austrian premiere at the Gartenbaukino in Vienna. The event was attended by the director of the Austrian Film Institute, the Ambassador, the Deputy Chief of Mission, and representatives from the fields of culture and education from the City of Vienna. The film was screened to Austrian school and university students, followed by a Q&A session with the Austrian participants and the film's producer. Prior to its Austrian premiere, the film had already celebrated its Israeli premiere at the Jerusalem Cinematheque in February.

Adding to the richness of the festivities, Israeli actress Shosha Goren enthralled audiences in the Southern region of Austria during the Austrian International Storytelling Festival, once again with the support of the Embassy of Israel.

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