Juror Presentation | Thomas Renoldner

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Screening Room - Michigan Theater Thu, Mar 24, 2022 3:00 PM


Many roads on the way to ‘Funny Avant-garde’

Short films from 1980–2020 in 4 chapters

by Thomas Renoldner





My primary artistic interests in my youth were music, drawing, painting, installation, and performance. Many of these artistic approaches can also be found in my films, which follow different interests in different periods. 


In the first period (1980–1990)—I call it my “naive / cinema-analytic period”—I made self-taught super 8 films. Some were realized spontaneously, others were more conceptual: basic investigations of the possibilities of cinema.


The second period (1989–1994)—“academy years”—were when I studied animation at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. At that time I followed two different directions: funny, figurative cartoons and serious, abstract works in the sense of a visual music tradition.


In a third period (1994–1998)—my “split screen years”—I explored different experimental techniques, among them using multiple exposures for in-camera split screen, and hand-cut masks. The artistic interest was to explore how cinema can open new perspectives for our experiences of time and space.


After 2010 a fourth period began—a phase of “restart, remix and renewal”—withSunny Afternoon (2012) and Dont Know What (2019) becoming my two most successful films internationally. I think that in these works I have successfully implemented all the experiences from earlier phases. 

1. 1980s—the naive but “cinema-analytic” period


Are you waiting for something special?

1983 | 4 | Super 8

The first part of this film imitates a destructive attitude, which I regarded as an essential element of avant-garde films I had seen at that time. As a contrast to the physically intense overstimulation of the senses, I wanted to add a very slow second part: myself just staring at the audience.


Film with mirror

1984 | 1 | Super 8

I shot this film while on vacation in Italy, spontaneously following an intuitive impulse. Today I interpret the mirror as a metaphor for cinema: like the camera it can only cut out a fragment of reality. See what happens when camera and mirror meet each other.


The borderlines of the projection screen

1983 | 3 | Super 8

I don’t think this film needs much explanation. Obviously I ask the question of how cinema relates to reality, and I make visible the fact that film always means to be fragmentary. We may also call it a “performance film.”

2. 1990s part 1—the academy years, animation studies



1990 | 2 | 16mm

I found this six-cube image puzzle at a flea market and simply liked it visually. Then I decided to use it for a music video for the pop band Maria, three friends of mine. Two of the cubes always follow the accents of one of the three instruments: guitar, keyboard, and drums.



1990 | 4 | 16mm

I made this film during the year our first daughter Laura was born, with the idea of abstract images in the mind of a child growing up. Twenty basic images and transitions between them resulted in 500 watercolors, which I recorded using masked multiple exposure to 16mm film, based on a minimal music composition.


Lonely Cowboy in 1992

1992 | 3 | 16mm

This is one of my rare “classical cartoon” movies. I made it on the occasion of the 500-year anniversary of America’s so-called discovery by Christopher Columbus. My commentary to that anniversary was to imagine what a cowboy would discover in America in 1992.


Rhythm 94

1994 | 4 | 16mm

My diploma film is a very complex multiple exposure to 35mm and refers to early visual music (Hans Richter’s Rhythmus 21 inspired the title) and evolves from realism (starting with an homage to Muybridge) to digital abstraction. Both visual and musical composition follow a strict polyrhythmic structure.

3. 1990s part 2—the split screen years, experiments with time and space


Picnic in the green

1996 | 3 | 16mm

This film was meant as a first “technical test” for hand-made split screen exposure in a 16mm camera. But since I really enjoyed the “experimental” result, especially the randomly interfering light flashes, I asked Andi Haller to turn it into a music video. In his lyrics he also referred to these destructive light flashes.


SC01Belo Horizonte.April.97

1998 | 3 | 16mm

I recorded a ride on the bus line SC01 in the center of Belo Horizonte, Brazil using a Bolex 16mm camera connected to a battery-driven device for time-lapse shots. The stops at the bus stations are interrupting this kind of high speed race in irregular intervals, given the visual rhythm for the music composed by Andi Haller.


Time Space

1997 | 9 | 16mm

The first part—One Day—combines in four vertical sections four different times at an open-air food market in Vienna. In the second part—One Year —a geometrical organized sea view filmed in north Italy through long-lasting fades which merge the four seasons of the year into one another.


Sophia's Year

1998 | 11 | 12 x Super 8 split screen on 35mm

After my mainly self-made split screen experiments, in Sophia’s Year I further developed the concept of transforming the experience of time and space into new cinematic forms. Each of the 12 windows of this split screen represent one month in the year 1995, when our second daughter Sophia was born.

4. after 2010—restart, remix, and renewal


Sunny Afternoon

2012 | 7 | 2K Digital Video

Sunny Afternoon is a song that I composed 25 years earlier, and a film project which I had first started 20 years earlier in my time as an animation student. It is the confrontation of “kind of” an avant-garde film with “kind of” a music video, posing questions about the conventions, taboos, and clichés of different film genres.


Fuck the Cancer! (short version)

2016/2020 | 5 | 2K Digital Video

In 2016 I had finished my video about my experience of tongue cancer therapy in the time between April 2014 and August 2015, consisting of self-encouraging selfie videos, stubbornly repeating the sentence, “Fuck the Cancer!” In 2020 I decided to shorten these 12 minutes to a more audience-friendly five-minute version.


Dont know what

2019 | 8 | 4K Digital Video

Employing the method of single-frame editing, the realistic film image transforms into a surreal, structuralist, and even abstract film. It also creates a musical composition while experimenting with the human voice and transforming language into sound and music. But the main reason to make this film was to enjoy myself and to celebrate that I can talk and move my body.




Thomas Renoldner is an artist, educator, film historian, and the founder and director of the Best Austrian Animation Festival. He’s also the founder and co-curator of Animation Avantgarde, an international competition that began in 2009 at Vienna Shorts Film Festival. Born 1960 in Linz, Upper Austria, Renoldner studied psychology and educational theory before turning to painting and animation at the Academy of Applied Arts Vienna. He has created numerous experimental, animated, and documentary films, and some commercials. He has also been a producer of animated films for other artists such as Linda Wolfsgruber, Federica Pagnucco, Nicolas Mahler, Sabine Groschup, and Heimo Wallner. Since 1992, Renoldner has conducted animation workshops and seminars with children and adults. He has led the Animation Lab at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna since 2004.