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Heyser Lecture

Last Updated: 20070423, mei

Saturday, May 5, 12:00 — 13:30


Keynote Speaker

This year’s Keynote Speaker is Helmut Voitl. Voitl was born in Dresden and grew up in Vienna, studying photography and film at the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt. He scripted and directed his first short film in 1966 and directed his first documentary series in 1968. Voitl teamed up with Elisabeth Guggenberger in 1973, and they began making films for numerous TV productions commissioned by ORF, SRG, ZDF, BR, and NDR. With the productions Russkiy Chleb and Schto delat, Towarisch? in 1989 and a documentary of the Ukraine in 1990 began an involvement with the former Soviet Union, finding its climax in the re-enactment series Arctic North-East (ORF, 1992–1996), a dramatized and staged reconstruction of the Austrian polar expedition of 1872–1874 that led to the discovery of the high arctic archipelago Franz Joseph Land. Shooting took place at original locations in the Russian High Arctic. Another production in Russia followed in 1998, Russia’s Holy War, and a year later A-Watch, which dealt with the environmental state of affairs in Austria. Currently Voitl is working on a feature film project called White Clouds Island, also situated in the High Arctic.

Voitl’s keynote address is entitled: “Sound and Emotion: The Power of Audio in Storytelling.” With the moment of our birth, our sense of hearing recedes into the second row, into the unconsciousness. Nevertheless it cannot be switched off and is a vital means for our understanding of the world around us, as well as a powerful transport medium for emotional content. Filmmakers have long used these powers for translating their storytelling to the audience in sometimes sublime, sometimes drastic ways. In documentary filmmaking, the situation is no different. In this talk, the various ways how sound can be used to augment, embelish or even contrast the visual impression will be discussed, always with the prerequisite of being an equal partner and a welcome tool for the final result—the experience of watching a film.