was born in Kitzbühel, a village of Tyrol, in the Austrian Alps. He has lived in Great Britain, Italy, the USA, and since twenty years in France. He studied film directing in Vienna (Univ. of Performing Arts) and in Paris (Univ. de Paris VIII.) and graduated B.A. (Mag. art.). In 2004 his documentary „Darwin’s Nightmare“ was nominated for the Oscar. He teaches film classes in Europe and USA. The last two documentaries he wrote and directed were awarded twelve International Film Prizes. His latest film „We Come As Friends“ is the opening film of this year’s International Film Festival Innsbruck.
Masterclass: The Art of Mastering Non-Fiction Film
Ever since the terrorist catastrophe at Charlie Hebdo (in my district of Paris) it became clear that one of the great ideals of our civilization is in question: “Free Speech”. But if you look closely, there are very few “frontier zones” of real freedom of expression. Maybe (author) documentaries are one of the last bastions of this “utopia”. Is it worth it to fight for this freedom at any price?
What are the biggest questions of each author of nonfiction films? After the question of the subject and the research of the facts immediately comes the question of form, the “creation”: what is it supposed to look like in texture, mood, rhythm, the narrative mode of the film? What is the obvious statement and what is the subtext, which is not shown, the tangible of a movie? As an author you have to mentally “see” the film long before making it. A film must probably be dreamt of.
In the practical sense, there is the challenge: How do I get inside the world, physically and mentally, of the people who are featured in the film. It’s about “access”: access to places where cameras are forbidden most strictly (eg Chinese oil fields in deepest Sudan, or military airports in the civil war, or government meetings) and access into the conscience, even the subconscious, of the people who ‘carry’ the film by their presence.
Is it “a game”, a science, a special form of seduction a filmmaker or a wandering poet must master? Art or “non-art”?