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Old 08-19-2009   #1
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Cyril Tourneur
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Michael Haneke

Michael Haneke (born March 23, 1942 in Munich, Germany) is an Austrian filmmaker and writer best known for his bleak and disturbing style. His films often document problems and failures in modern society. Haneke has worked in television‚ theater and cinema. He is also known for raising social issues in his work. Besides working as filmmaker he also teaches directing at the Filmacademy Vienna.


At the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, The White Ribbon won the Palme d'Or for best film.

He has made films in French, German and English.

The son of actor and director Fritz Haneke and actress Beatrix von Degenschild, Haneke was raised in the city Wiener Neustadt. He attended the University of Vienna to study philosophy, psychology and drama after failing to achieve success in his early attempts in acting and music. After graduating, he became a film critic and from 1967 to 1970 he worked as editor and dramaturg at the southwestern German television station Südwestfunk. He made his debut as a television director in 1973.

Haneke's feature film debut was 1989's The Seventh Continent, which served to trace out the violent and bold style that would bloom in later years. Three years later, the controversial Benny's Video put Haneke's name on the map. Haneke's greatest success came in 2001 with his most critically successful film, the French The Piano Teacher. It won the prestigious Grand Prize at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and also won its stars, Benoît Magimel and Isabelle Huppert, the Best Actor and Actress awards. He has worked with Juliette Binoche (Code Unknown in 2000 and Caché in 2005), after she expressed interest in working with him. Another actress Haneke frequently enjoys working with is Susanne Lothar.

His latest film, The White Ribbon, premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. The movie is set in 1913 and deals with strange incidents in a small town in Northern Germany, depicting an authoritarian, fascist-like atmosphere, where children are subjected to follow rigid rules and suffer harsh punishments, and where strange deaths occur. The Cannes jury presided by Isabelle Huppert and including Asia Argento, Hanif Kureishi and Robin Wright Penn awarded Haneke's film the Palme d'Or for the best feature film.

As a playwright, he directed a number of stage productions in German, which included works by Strindberg, Goethe, and Heinrich von Kleist in Berlin, Munich and Vienna. In 2006, Haneke gave his debut as an opera director, staging Mozart's Don Giovanni for the Opéra National de Paris at Palais Garnier, when the theater's general manager was Gérard Mortier. In 2012 he was to direct Così fan tutte for the New York City Opera. This production had originally been commissioned by Jürgen Flimm for the Salzburg Festival 2009, but Haneke had to resign due to an illness preventing him from preparing the work. Haneke is now scheduled to realize the production at Madrid's Teatro Real in 2012, which then will be managed by Mortier.

"My films are intended as polemical statements against the American 'barrel down' cinema and its dis-empowerment of the spectator. They are an appeal for a cinema of insistent questions instead of false (because too quick) answers, for clarifying distance in place of violating closeness, for provocation and dialogue instead of consumption and consensus."
-- From "Film as catharsis".

"Pornography, it seems to me, is no different from war films or propaganda films in that it tries to make the visceral, horrific, or transgressive elements of life consumable."

"Film is 24 lies per second at the service of truth, or at the service of the attempt to find the truth."

Michael Haneke





(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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