Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages (Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys). 2000. France/Germany/Romania. Directed by Michael Haneke. © Jérémie Nassif, courtesy MK2

Michael Haneke is one of contemporary cinema’s most provocative and incisive filmmakers. The most comprehensive U.S. presentation to date, this exhibition includes all of Haneke’s theatrical features and the North American premieres of eight Austrian-German television productions. Born in 1942 in Germany, and raised in his current home of Austria, Haneke studied philosophy, psychology, and drama at the University of Vienna before becoming a screenwriter and director of theater, film, and opera. (Upcoming directing projects will be seen at the New York City Opera under General Manager Gerard Mortier.) Much of Haneke’s early work—based on his own writing or adapted from modernist and postmodern literature by Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, Ingeborg Bachmann, Peter Rosei, and others—centers on the historical amnesia of Old Europe and its wartime past, and on the loss of identity and individuality, whether during the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (The Rebellion [1993]), in the decade following World War II (Lemmings - Part 1 - Arcadia [1979] and Fraulein [1986]), or in the present day (Three Paths to the Lake [1976], Lemmings - Part Two - Injuries [1979], Variation [1983], and Who Was Edgar Allan? [1984]).

More recent films, including his masterful collaborations with Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher [2001], Time of the Wolf [2003]), and Juliette Binoche (Code Unknown [2000], Caché [2005]), are elliptical, Rashomon-like narratives, told with exquisite precision and in riveting detail, that shock viewers out of their willful indifference to the suffering of others and challenge their unquestioning acceptance of mediated reality.

In a style at once musical and mathematical, Haneke’s films treat themes of alienation and social collapse; the exploitation and consumption of violence; the bourgeois family as the incubator of fascistic impulse; individual responsibility and collective guilt; and the ethics of the photographic image. Haneke will introduce the screenings of Code Unknown on October 13 and Funny Games on October 15. The exhibition is also presented at Harvard Film Archive and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (October 11–November 3). All films directed by Haneke.

Organized for the Museum by Joshua Siegel, Assistant Curator, Department of Film, based on the originating exhibition Michael Haneke: A Cinema of Provocation, curated by Roy Grundmann, Film Studies professor at Boston University, with additional assistance from Karin Oehlenschläger of the Goethe-Institut Boston, and Brigitte Bouvier from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Boston. Michael Haneke is supported by the Elysée Treaty Fund for Franco-German Cultural Events in Third Countries, and by the Austrian Cultural Forum New York. Special thanks to Juliane Wanckel, Alexander Horwath, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Martin Rauchbauer, and, for their generous loan of prints, Kino Entertainment (Gary Palmucci, Jessica Rosner), Leisure Time Features (Bruce Pavlow), Palm Pictures (Ed Arentz), and Sony Pictures Classics (Michael Barker, Michael Piaker, Tom Prassis).

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