Mittwoch, 20. Januar 2010

Michael Haneke's "White Ribbon"

Haneke's film about violence and the beginning of fascism received a Golden Globe award

By Simone Kussatz

On January 17th, 2010, the film “The White Ribbon” (Das weiße Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte), set in Northern Germany on the eve of World War I, directed and written by Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke received the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film at the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Therefore “The White Ribbon” will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 82nd Academy Awards along with eight other foreign films. The result of the next voting process will be announced on February 2, 2010 during the 82nd Academy Awards nominations inside of the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

A day before Michael Haneke received his Golden Globe for “The White Ribbon” he was invited to a panel discussion at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The event was organized by the American Cinematheque. On Haneke’s side were also filmmakers Giuseppe Tornatore ("Baaria"), Jacques Audiard ("A Prophet"), and Sebastian Silva ("The Maid”) The fifth nominee, Pedro Almodovar (“Broken Embraces”) wasn’t present due to another commitment he had in Paris. All nominated filmmakers were assisted by interpreters except for Sebastian Silva. The discussion that started at 1 p.m. was moderated by Mike Goodrich, editor of Screen International and an HFPA member.

When Goodrich started the discussion by telling Haneke how he wondered about how the children in the film could have turned into Nazis, Haneke said that his film is not exclusively about German fascism, "but rather shows an example of how people are prepared to take part of totalitarianism." He also said that although the film is for German audiences, "it’s not pointing a finger at Germany specifically, because it would be foolish of people from other countries to think that it doesn't apply to them."

Haneke also said that the casting was the most difficult part in the filmmaking. For the extra work he had Romanian farmers come by bus to Germany. He said it took him half a year to find the perfect cast. It had been particularly difficult to find the right child actors, because they didn’t only need to be talented, but they also needed to have faces from that time period. Finding the right cast, “Ist die halbe Miete,” (is half of the rent) Haneke said.

Haneke also mentioned that he didn’t want to follow a certain film formula that others use, for instance Hollywood. At the end he didn’t want to give away the answer as to who committed the crimes. It was rather a film that would pose questions, so that viewers could reflect about them later on. He also used an element of alienation by shooting the film in black and white. “The aesthetics of photography from that time period makes it easier for the viewer to empathize with the characters,” he added. Also he wanted to create a distance to that time period to insist on the uncertainty of things. “I don’t like films who pretend how things were,” Haneke explained.

Asked about the role that religion plays in his film, Haneke said that he wanted to become a minister at age 14. Towards the end of the panel discussion the filmmaker mentioned his new film, which will be "about the depressing realization of one’s old age and the suffering caused by it."