Michael H. Profession: Director
The Austrian national Michael Haneke is one of Europe’s most respected and, at the same time, most controversial film directors. His highly cerebral movies delve into the origins of violence in the human psyche, while simultaneously questioning the pleasure we take in seeing violence represented on stage and screen. His is a philosophical, rather than a sociological, way of looking at things, and one of the reasons his films are “controversial” is that none of them are easy to interpret.
So at first sight it looks good that he has agreed to allow independent director Yves Montmayeur to make a film about him. Or rather, it would be good, if it weren't for the fact that, eloquent about other filmmakers, Haneke turns out to be constitutionally averse to discussing the meaning and intention of his own filmic work. That is the critic's job, he says. As for interviewers, he has no intention of making their job an easy one.
Fortunately, over the course of the film he turns out to be less rigorous in this matter than he pretends to be. Haneke may not be willing to give “explanations”, but he is extremely articulate about the practicalities his craft, and derives pleasure and instruction in unpacking the mysteries of his profession in a humorous and straightforward fashion. In short, he is a born pedagogue.
There are many “making of” films on the market, but the ones that really teach you something new are somewhat rare. This is one of them. Montmayeur goes behind the scenes of each of Haneke’s movies, allowing us to be present on the set as individual sequences are rehearsed and filmed. Actors such as Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant contribute their own vivid anecdotal witness. Gradually a picture builds up of a complicated, dedicated, professional artist. By the end of this film, one can see why the people who work with Haneke admire him so much.
Yves Montmayeur is a director, journalist, and musician from France. Since 1999 he has been directing documentaries about directors and their films, with a concentration on cinema from Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan. Additionally, his films include portraits of personalities with a strong force of character, such as Michael Haneke, cameraman Christopher Doyle and the Italian actress and director Asia Argento. Montmayeur has worked as a film critic for magazines Le Cinéphage, 7 in Paris, Bref and Nosferatu, as well as for the TV magazine Le Journal de Cinéma. Since 1998, he has regularly filmed reportages on cinema, music and visual arts topics for the ARTE magazine Tracks.