Michael Haneke Movies and Career Information

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Actor, Director, Producer and Writer
Award-winning Austrian writer and film director Michael Haneke is known for making movies that are grim, unsettling and violent. His filmmaking style is considered bold and direct, often critiquing the troubles of contemporary culture. Haneke is also notorious for using long, suspenseful fixed takes that depict sudden acts of extreme brutality. Brought up in the city of Wiener Neustadt, Austria, Haneke is the son of actress Beatrix von Degenschild and director Fritz Haneke. After early efforts in acting and music didn’t pan out, he attended the University of Vienna to study drama, psychology and philosophy. He worked as a film critic and editor at the German television station Südwestfunk after getting his degree, and started freelance directing theater and television programs in the early 1970s. In 1989 Haneke released The Seventh Continent, his first feature film. The film’s storyline, concerning a normal middle class family that suddenly and inexplicable decide to commit suicide, would be a strong indication of the direction of his later work. Haneke’s second film, Benny's Video, came out in 1992. The horror-of-personality film depicts the life of Benny, a teenager who spends his free time watching violent movies before deciding to video-record himself murdering a girl. The film gained attention for it’s depictions of graphic violence, though the only straight shot of carnage in the movie is the slow-motion slaughter of a pig in a video Benny repeatedly watches. The Piano Teacher, released in 2001, is Haneke’s most critically successful film to date. The disturbing plot concerns a masochistic piano teacher that is romantically pursed by one of her students. The Piano Teacher won the Grand Prix at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, along with Best Actress and Best Actor awards for stars Isabelle Huppert and Benoit Magimel. Haneke’s most recent American release is Funny Games U.S., an English-language re-make of his 1997 film Funny Games. Staring Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt and Tim Roth, the brutal thriller concerns a family taken hostage in their home by a pair of serial killers that force them to play torture games.

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