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Austria’s Up-Tempo Allegro Plays With Genres

One of Austria’s most active production companies, Vienna-based Allegro Film, has enjoyed a hit streak in recent years with its ever-diverse lineups and 2014 promises even more.

Andreas Prochaska’s Alpine Western “The Dark Valley,” a co-production with Berlin’s X Filme Creative Pool and among the shingle’s most anticipated productions this year, is having its world premiere at the Berlinale on Feb. 10.

Starring Sam Riley (“On the Road”) and Tobias Moretti (“Jew Suss: Rise and Fall”), the film is set in the 19th century in a remote high-mountain valley and follows a stranger who arrives in a small village, where a series of mysterious deaths soon follow.

The film, which screens as a Berlinale Gala Special at the fest, already picked up two Bavarian Film Awards in January: the director prize for Prochaska and actor for Moretti.

Allegro enjoyed a very different hit last year with Markus Imhoof’s 2012 documentary “More Than Honey,” (pictured) which the company co-produced with Germany’s Zero One Film and Thelma Film in Switzerland. The pic, which examines the alarming and dramatic disappearance of bee populations, has been Allegro’s most successful film of the past year, becoming the biggest doc in Switzerland, where it racked up more than 230,000 admissions; in Germany, it attracted 170,000 moviegoers, in France more than 130,000 and more than 70,000 in Austria. It also produced Marvin Kren’s horror thriller “The Station” (Blutgletscher), which preemed at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

“When it comes to feature films it’s important to us that we are not just committed to one kind of genre,” says Allegro Film topper Helmut Grasser. “Variety is important to us and we are open to all kind of genres as long as the story is appealing and interesting.”

Allegro produces an average of three films a year, including TV movies. The company’s average budget for features is about $4 million, and between $800,000 and $1 million for documentaries.

Budgeted at €7 million ($9.5 million), “Dark Valley” is one of Allegro’s biggest projects to date.

Allegro’s upcoming projects include Marie Kreutzer’s second feature, “Gruber Is Leaving,” which Grasser describes as “a touching but at the same time cheerful drama” about a fast-living and egocentric thirtysomething whose life is thrown off track by a cancer diagnosis as well as by the person who unwillingly delivers the news, a female DJ from Berlin. The pic is set to shoot this spring.

Hubert Canaval’s documentary about the world’s energy consumption “Energized” hits theaters in March.

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