Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

from Summit Notebook:

Michael Haneke: How to politely dislike his movies

HanekeRTL Group Chief Executive Gerhard Zeiler came to our U.S. headquarters on Thursday so we could interview him for our Global Media Summit this week. While we waited for our colleagues in London and Germany to beam in remotely, I asked him about what he and other Austrians generally think of Michael Haneke.

Haneke is perhaps Austria's most well known artist these days, a director whose films ("Cache," "Code Inconnu," "Benny's Video," "La Pianiste," "Le Temps du Loup" and others) contain violent and intense episodes combined with queasy comedy that tend to disturb, shock and dismay his fans and his foes. He also enjoys the distinction of having made "Funny Games," the only film to ever make me physically ill. In terms of his provocative content, think Peter Greenaway, not Steven Spielberg.

Zeiler told me that he used to work for ORF, the Austrian public broadcaster (which just got a cash infusion from Vienna after repeatedly going over budget). Not only did he know Haneke's work, he was responsible for financing it because it's a government obligation. As for the movies? He doesn't like them; the brutality turns him off -- so how do you tell people you don't like the movie that you just bankrolled?

"I tell them, 'It was very interesting!'" he said.

(Photo: Some people might not like Haneke's movies, but the Cannes Film Festival's jury sure does. Reuters)

“White Ribbon” wins Cannes Palme d’Or, does Oscar await?


cannes16Austrian director Michael Haneke claimed the coveted Palme d’Or, the top prize of the Cannes film festival, for “Das Weisse Band” (The White Ribbon”), instantly catapulting the movie on the top of the list of this year’s must see films around the globe. Cannes, of course, is the world’s top film festival where cinematic art precedes the showbusiness commerce of Hollywood. For the full story, click here.

The win comes as somewhat of a surprise because heading into the final weekend of the festival , Cannes watchers had said French prison drama “Un Prophete” (“A Prophet”) had the upper hand at grasping the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm). But Cannes awards are given by a jury, and jurors can be a fickle bunch.