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Film on vanishing Slovenian language in Austria featured in Graz

Graz, 9 April - A documentary by Andrina Mračnikar, the Austrian director and screenwriter of Slovenian descent, which deals with the vanishing of the Slovenian language from everyday life in Carinthia, will be featured on Saturday and Sunday at the Diagonale film festival in Graz.

Klagenfurt, Austria
A bilingual place name in Austria's Carinthia.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

The feature-length documentary entitled Verschwinden (Vanishing) is a "call against resignation and for courageous political action," says the presentation of the film in the festival's catalogue.

It is noted that before 1910, about 90% of the population of what is now the Austrian state of Carinthia spoke Slovenian, and most of them exclusively Slovenian. For instance, only 5% of people in Keutschach/Hodiše speak Slovenian today.

"This decline is a consequence of more than a century of discrimination fuelled by nationalism ... and ignorance of the German-speaking society and politics."

In interviews with Slovenian families in the area, Mračnikar presents an image of "persecution, deportations, violence, insidious hostility and bureaucratic obstacles" that have led many Carinthian Slovenians to give up their own language.

The film explores what happens when "this language is taken away from you in everyday life and how politicians should and could act to prevent the disappearance of a language whose protection is enshrined in the Austrian constitution."

An additional reference for the film is the official festive atmosphere in Carinthia on the centenary of the 1920 plebiscite in which a majority of the population opted for the Republic of Austria instead of Yugoslavia.

Born in 1981 in Hallein, Mračnikar grew up in Carinthia and studied at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television in Ljubljana and directing and screenwriting at the Vienna Film Academy. She has lived in Vienna for the past 20 years.

She has made two other documentaries - Andri 1924-1944 (2003) and Der Kärntner spricht Deutsch (2007), and one feature film - Ma Folie (2015) to receive a number of awards and recognitions.

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© STA, 2022