ALI MOHAMED IS A GERMAN TEACHER who escapes with his son and sister to Vienna from Iran in order to avoid the horrors of a coming war. In the refugee camp, housed in a run-down hotel, he is for the first time confronted with the temptations and curses of the West. With a fervent belief in a just world he starts to fight the bureaucracy, prejudices, linguistic barriers, and, what he considers to be deteriorating values - everything to keep his own cultural identity. Even love causes problems for Ali Mohamcd. He loves Vienna, his new city, and is loved by a Viennese woman, but first - insists Ali - she will have to marry him. Is he a man with high idcals or is he just hopelessly stubborn? The film is a comedy about the complications that arise when the Orient collides with Europe. Comment:THE CAPITALS OF OLD IMPERIAL EUROPE are having a renaissance: Paris, Berlin, Vienna ... In the reconstruction of the European house, the scratches are plastered over and images of a lost greatness are recovered. During the last decade Vienna has becomc one of the symbols of the dream about the lost Central Europe. In this case both the historical continuity, with the Habsburgian Empire and the culture of the Operetta, and Vienna as modern project, the cradle for Freud, Loos, Wittgenstein, Musil, Klimt and Schiele, have been brought forth. In the end Vienna appears like a golden ghost-town, a monstrous ruin in the middle of an empire, reduced to a bigotted middle-class republic. Those who describe Vienna best are those who hate the city, like Karl Kraus and Thomas Bernhard. The hated Operettas, the gossip, the court culture and the intolerance. Bernhard has pointed out the xenophobia, which is becoming a current issue of the greatest importance, especially since the city has become one of Asia's gates to the West. The Turks, who under the Ottoman empire, rode through the Wienerwald forest have been replaced by tired guest-workers, pursued by the authorities and the Austrians, led by their bizarre president Waldheim. The Iranian Houchang Allahyari gives us, in his I Love Viena, a good-natured critique from the East, a collection of Persian letters of sorts, a sad comedy about Iranian and Arab immigrants who arrive in Vienna to find a future. The main character, Ali Mohamed, has a curious obsession. He loves Vienna. ''I love Vienna'', he says, friendly, no matter how badly he is treated, no matter how rough of a time destiny gives him. He is met with indifference and superiority, but also with love. This love brings him through the bureaucratic labyrinths and the continuous cultural clashes. This is a critical film, but there is no hatred. Allahyari gives us a new attitude to Vienna and reminds us that it's people of flesh and blood who live in the shadow of Festung Europa, not heroes from Operettas or serial gangster stories. It's the living who populate the new capitals, while the Habsburg line is rotting in the grave. LARS GUSTAF ANDERSSON

I Love Vienna
Houchang Allahyari
104 min
Europa idag
Production year
Veredoon Varochsad, Dolores Schmidinger, Marisa Mell
Dieter Pochlatko
Houchang Allahyari, Reinhard Jud

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