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A Metonymic Cinema: Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s "Abendland" and "Danube Hospital"

At least since the 1990s, Austria has commanded a central place within global cinema culture, certainly within that portion of it governed in a semi-official manner by film festivals and arthouses. Like many such European film scenes, many of its members have moved quite easily between fiction and documentary modes (Ulrich Seidl and Michael Glawogger, to cite the most obvious and prolific). Still, the documentary element remains too seldom remarked upon as a spiritual source for the unique, penetrating gaze that characterizes so many of key Austrian films. Generally speaking, fictional features by the likes of Michael Haneke, Jessica Hausner and Michael Schleinzer have drawn more attention from programmers and distributors than the documentaries of Nikolaus Geyrhalter. This is par for the course with nonfiction cinema. But it nevertheless seems worth mentioning here because, in terms of the tone, construction, and global attitude of Geyrhalter’s cinema, his work seems

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