Virgil Widrich - Biography


Born in Salzburg, Virgil Widrich spent his childhood in a house that is over 500 years old and stands on the Mönchsberg. While there he became acquainted with artists such as Peter Handke, who was his neighbour, and Wim Wenders, a frequent visitor. He gained his first experience with film at a very young age and was given his first camera, a Super-8, at the age of 13. That same year (1980) he made three films, "My Homelife", "Gebratenes Fleisch" and 3 mal Ulf. He followed that with an animated cartoon titled Auch Farbe kann träumen. At the age of 15 he made Monster in Salzburg, on which he worked with actors for the first time. He created the rampaging monster using stop-motion photography. In 1983 he began work on Vom Geist der Zeit (Spirit of Time). Even bad marks at school were not enough to prevent him finishing his first feature-length movie, which took him 14 months. During this time he also took on a job as a props manager at the Salzburg Festival to finance his films. In 1984 he began to take an interest in computers and programmed a number of simple games.

After passing his school-leaving exams at the Akademisches Gymnasium in Salzburg he entered the Vienna Film Academy, only to leave again after a matter of weeks to work on the script for a science fiction film which, in the end, he never made. In 1987 he founded the film distributing company Classic Films with two partners with the aim of distributing mainly artistic films. Later on he became assistant to John Bailey, a camera man and director, and in 1990 he went to Hollywood to work with Bailey on the science fiction comedy The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe. After selling Classic Films in 1991 Widrich again turned his attention to the computer and the possibilities it offered for creating art. His next major project, which saw him working as production manager, was a new festival for Austrian film, held for the first time in 1993 under the name Diagonale. In the second year he also compiled a film database. More databases relating to film followed, and he was also involved in the creation of an interactive CD-ROM.

In 1997 Widrich started concentrating more on making his own films again, producing the short film "tx-transform", which was a great success at the Ars Electronica festival. He also returned to his script for "Heller als der Mond (Brighter than the Moon)", which he filmed in 1999. The film premiered in 2000 in Rotterdam. "Copy Shop" was his next project, and one of his most successful to date. Following its premiere in 2001 the film won 35 awards, was nominated for the Oscar and was shown on television and numerous film festivals. His next short, "Fast Film", was likewise very successful and won 36 international awards. A large number of multimedia projects for companies followed (in 2001 he founded the firm, checkpointmedia AG, and is its CEO) and he continued producing films with his company Virgil Widrich Film- und Multimediaproduktionen G.m.b.H. Together with other filmmakers he also co-founded the production company Amour Fou Film in 2001, focusing on arthouse movies from young directors.

In 2004 Widrich was a member of the jury for Ars Electronica and became chairman of the Austrian Film Directors’ Association until 2007. He is also a member of the Academy of Austrian Film. From 2007 to 2010 Virgil Widrich taught as Professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, teaching the class of “digital arts”. Since 2010 he is the leading Professor of the post-graduate Master Programme "Art & Science".

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