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Austria, 1998 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky

"Billed as an 'Alpine Western', The Inheritors is a smartly mounted ensemble drama about class conflict and oppression set in an Austrian farming village in the early 30s. Showing considerable command and an arresting visual sense, writer/director Stefan Ruzowitzky invests the jaunty folkloric tale with the scope of a small epic." - Variety

The village's head farmer lies in his yard with his throat slit. As cruel and loathed as he was, he leaves his land to his seven peasant workers - something unheard of. While each of the 'one-seventh farmers' learn what it means to be free and responsible for themselves, hostility towards them grows amongst the older, established farmers. The conflict draws out camaraderie, tensions, dark secrets.

The Inheritors is a powerful film. It recalls both George Orwell's 1984 and Henry Miller's Crucible. The power struggles between the young peasants and the farmers are drawn out through their personalities, not in spite of them. Stefan Ruzowitzky has maintained what he calls a "consciously personal and present-day point of view", which is "more honest and ultimately more authentic". The Inheritors raises universal questions about existential struggles, compassion and freedom.

"The erotic tension in the hate relationship between (farmers) Danninger and Emmy, or the repressed homosexuality of Severin are facets one can't write into a screenplay; they can only be conjured up 'inadvertently' by great actors. That's when things start to get interesting. And as the director, you are excited about being able to watch from so close up." - Stefan Ruzowitzky

Stefan Ruzowitzky is a guest of the Festival

Stefan Ruzowitzky was born in 1961 and studied drama and history at the University of Vienna. Since 1987 he has worked as director and screenwriter on numerous documentaries and short films. Tempo (1996) was Ruzowitzky's first feature film, The Inheritors, his second, was a Tiger Award winner at the 1998 Rotterdam International Film Festival.

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