Friday, June 3, 2016


VIS stands for Vienna Independent Shorts - it's a film festival that's been around for about 13 years.

Apparently, last year David OReilly and Don Hertzfeldt appeared there and sang my praises - for whatever reason, I don't know.  In any case, the Austrian Film Museum invited me to come this year and do a retrospective screening and a master class.  I'd heard great things about Vienna, and thought it would be fun to visit.  So here I am, I'm writing this while on an AirBerlin flight returning from my 4-day visit to VIS.

They put me up in a fancy, yet wackily-hip hotel called 25 Hours.  The festival opened with a celebration of my birthday on stage, after screening my latest "Simpsons" couch gag.  I was caught by surprise, partly because my birthday was a month ago, and also because they gave me a cake with a cow on it, and it was the cow from my film "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger", along with two large roman candles.

My three shows were big successes, because I had packed-house audiences and sustained applause throughout - this is what I live for.

But also, I was able to check out the robust cultural scene in Vienna.  The Belvedere Museum, which looks a lot like Versailles, had a couple of famous Gustav Klimt paintings.  Then I visited the Leopold Museum, which contains the largest collection of Egon Schiele artwork, and I must admit that right now I'm a freak for Egon, especially his drawings.  They're so evocative and distorted, yet are anatomically correct.  I'm considering using his drawing style for my next feature film.

Other highlights were the Austrian Congress building, where Hitler once gave a speech from a balcony where he claimed the conquest of Austria, in front of thousands of adoring Viennese fans.  And then, of course, the Austrian Academy of Art, which rejected Hitler's portfolio when he applied for enrollment to art school, which subsequently led to him trying to dominate the world.

Just imagine, if the school had accepted his application for enrollment - in fact, that's the premise of my new mockumentary, "Hitler's Folly", where you can see that alternate reality explored.  It's just released, you can see it streaming on my new web-site at

But to get back to VIS - it's a vibrant shorts festival that concentrates on abstract and avant-garde shorts (I went through that phase in college).  That's why everyone who works for the festival is young or college-age, and it gives the festival a wonderful, free-form spirit, which I loved.  I give the VIS Festival a B+

Be sure to enter your short films there, it's a great experience.

And my thanks to the Austrian Film Museum for arranging my appearance, and for the great photos!

--Bill Plympton

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