DER SIEBENTE KONTINENT (1989) is Michael Haneke’s first feature film, made after an 18-year career as a producer and director for German television. Based on a press clipping from a local newspaper, the film covers three years in the life and death of a middle-class Austrian family in the 1980s. It’s one of his most radical and melancholic works, graphically outlining his later films, posing existential questions through distant observations on the actions and moralities of his protagonists.
Before DER SIEBENTE KONTINENT, the screening will begin with two remarkable short films which reflect on family life in ways that deeply contrast with our feature film. CHRISTIAN AND MICHAEL (2006) is an affectionate portrait of a Viennese couple and the objects that surround them. Chicago-based filmmaker Adele Friedman shot the film on 16mm and uses no sound, evoking associations with early anthropological films while keeping an explicitly subjective gaze.
HAPPY-END (1996) by experimental eminence Peter Tscherkassky is an excessive remix of found footage depicting a middle-aged couple’s yearly ritual involving music, dance and the consumption of lots of egg-liquor. It’s as much a happy celebration of their relationship as a mournful testimony of things that are inevitably coming to an end.