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From politics to cinema: Austria's ex-chancellor returns to limelight

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
From politics to cinema: Austria's ex-chancellor returns to limelight
A huge poster in Vienna advertising a film called "Kurz - The Film" about the former Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz. Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP

Austria's former chancellor Sebastian Kurz - who is to stand trial for allegedly giving false testimony - recently grabbed the limelight again, with several movies about him released all at once.

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The release of the films - including two fawning biopics - has reignited the debate about his potential return to politics, after he resigned as chancellor in 2021 amid wide-ranging corruption allegations.

Kurz, 37, has repeatedly denied such rumours while jetting around the world as an international strategy consultant, posting photos with Israeli leader
Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on social media.

"He is like a Hollywood-esque operetta character, with a powerful myth surrounding him," political analyst Thomas Hofer told AFP.

'Influencing the narrative'

The long-awaited critical documentary "Projekt Ballhausplatz" premiered in mid-September, illustrating the meteoric rise and fall of Kurz.

The title refers to Kurz's plans to take power, culminating in him becoming chancellor in 2017 at the age of 31.

The flattering biopic "Kurz - The Movie" was also released around the same time, with movie posters showing the former-leader in a dark suit illuminated by golden light.

The producers were quick to rebuff several accusations surrounding the film, saying that tickets were bought in bulk as a "precautionary measure" due to planned PR events rather than to skew the film's success.

READ ALSO: Austrian ex-chancellor Sebastian Kurz to go on trial for false testimony

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Interviewees also claimed they had been tricked into participating in the film under false pretences.

A third film called "Kurz - The Truth" by controversial director Jakov Sedlar followed, with a saintly depiction of the ex-chancellor.

While Kurz declined an interview request from the director of the critical "Ballhausplatz" documentary, blasting the film as not "objective", he gave interviews for the two favourable films.

Kurz has a habit of "only making himself available for books or films which are in his favour, to influence the narrative," analyst Hofer said.

The films have certainly led to ample local media coverage, including speculations of a Kurz comeback.

"In three to five years, after being cleared of all legal accusations, he could very well plan his return," Hofer said.

Analyst Peter Filzmaier told AFP that Kurz "succeeded in presenting himself as different from established - usually significantly older - politicians and parties".

"There is hardly any lasting legacy of his politics, because he barely had a vision of how to shape Austrian society. He was more concerned with power," Filzmaier said.

By Kiyoko METZLER

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