Michael Haneke
Birth Date:
March 23, 1942
Birth Place:
Munich, Bavaria, Germany
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Austrian respected, but controversial, filmmaker Michael Haneke first gained notice with his loose trilogy “The Seventh Continent” (1989), “Benny’s Video” (1992) and “71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance” (1994). It was 1997's “Funny Games,” from which he earned a Golden Palm nomination at Cannes that established him as a foremost director. He picked up his next Golden Palm nominations for “Code Unknown” (2000) and the art-house hit “The Piano Teacher” (2001), which marks his greatest commercial success to date. However, Haneke is probably most famous as the writer and director of the critically acclaimed “Cache” (2005, “Hidden”), which collected over 40 awards and nominations. His remake of “Funny Games” (2008) enjoyed little success in the U.S. and U.K.

“Films that are entertainments give simple answers but I think that's ultimately more cynical as it denies the viewer room to think. If there are more answers at the end, then surely it is a richer experience.” Michael Haneke

Haneke became one of 105 persons invited to join the 2008 AMPAS. In 2002, he cited his 10 favorite movies as “Au hasard Balthazar” (1966), “Lancelot du Lac” (1974), “Zerkalo” (1975), “Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma” (1975), “Ángel exterminador, El” (1962), “The Gold Rush” (1925), “Psycho” (1960), “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974), “Germania anno zero” (1948) and “Eclisse, L'” (1962).

In addition to working on his versatile film projects, Haneke also serves as a professor of directing at the Vienna Film Academy.


Childhood and Family:

Michael Haneke was born on March 23, 1942, in Munich, Germany, to actor/director Fritz Haneke and actress Beatrix Degenschild. After the war, his family relocated to Wiener Neustadt in Austria and young Michael developed a passion to become a concert pianist. It was his stepfather who told him he did not have musical talent. After an unsuccessful effort in acting, Michael decided to attend college at the University of Vienna where he studied psychology, philosophy and theatrical sciences. He began working on television in the early 1970s.

Michael Haneke is known by the nickname Slappy.

Funny Games


After graduation, Michael Haneke found work as a film critic before joining the German television station Südwestfunk from 1967 to 1970. He then tried his hand at directing plays, but it was not until 1974 that Haneke made his debut on the small screen directing the West German made-for-TV film “After Liverpool,” penned by James Saunders. His subsequent projects included “Sperrmüll” (1976), “Drei Wege zum See/Three Paths to the Lake” (1976), which he adapted from a short story by Ingeborg Bachmann, and “Lemminge, Teil 1 Arkadien” and “Lemminge, Teil 2 Verletzungen” (both 1979), in which he also served as writer.

Haneke continued to hone in on his directing and writing skills on television with work in “Variation” (1983), “Wer war Edgar Allan,” (1984) and “Fraulein” (1986). In 1989, he made the leap to the big screen with “Siebente Kontinent, Der/The Seventh Continent,” which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival and the America's New York New Directors and New Films Festival before earning a theatrical release in France in 1993. “The Seventh Continent,” which won the Ernest Artaria Award at Switzerland's Locarno International Film Festival, launched Haneke's status as a director.

The filmmaker verified the position with “Benny’s Video” (1992), a story of a lonesome and neglected young boy who tries to gain attention from his parents by murdering his girlfriend, and “71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls/71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance” (1994), a gruesome drama. When “Benny’s Video” won the European Film's FIPRESCI Prize, the European cinema industry began to notice the budding director.

Haneke resumed his television career by directing and writing “Nachruf für einen Mörder” (1991) for “Österreichischer Rundfunk” and was handed an Austrian People's Education TV Award for Best TV Film and a Teleplay Award at the Baden-Baden TV Film Festival for “Rebellion,Die,” based on the work of novelist Joseph Roth.

After providing a segment for the film “Lumière et compagnie/Lumiere and Company” and scripting Paulus Manker's award-winning “Kopf des Mohren, Der/The Moor's Head” (both 1995), Haneke enjoyed a huge breakthrough with the 1997 drama “Funny Games.” Although rejected for his frequent indulgent descriptions of brutality, the film marked a critical hit for Haneke. It won the International Fantasy Film Special Jury Award and Critics' Award at the Fantasporto Awards, the FIPRESCI Prize at the Flanders International Film Festival and a Golden Palm nomination at the Cannes Film Festival, and Haneke was handed the Silver Hugo for Best Director at the Chicago International Film Festival in addition to the London Critics Circle Film ALFS nomination for Director of the Year. Subsequently, Haneke became a world-class director.

Still in 1997, Haneke helmed and wrote the script for “Schloß, Das/The Castle,” adapted from Franz Kafka's unfinished novel. It received an Austrian People's Education TV Award for Best TV Film and for his direction, Haneke was given a Special Award at the Baden-Baden TV Film Festival.

Following a few years break from filmmaking, Haneke made a promising comeback in 2000 with “Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages/Code Unknown,” a drama starring French beauty Juliette Binoche. The film won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at Cannes and was nominated for a Golden Palm.

Haneke enjoyed even more success with his next movie, “The Piano Teacher” (2001), a drama about a young man (played by Benoît Magimel) romantically chasing his masochistic piano teacher (played by Isabelle Huppert). Apart from its intense nature, the film was a commercial hit worldwide. It picked up the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

In 2003, Haneke resurfaced with “Time of the Wolf,” which again starred Isabelle Huppert. Set in post-apocalyptic France, the drama brought Haneke a Best Screenplay honor and was nominated for Best Film at the 2003 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival. But it was the multiple award-winning “Cache/Hidden” (2005) that brought the director/writer back into the spotlight. A mystery about a married couple upset by a series of progressively personal videotapes of their daily lives, the Daniel Auteuil/Juliette Binoche vehicle amassed countless awards, including Best Director, Competition and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival, two European Film awards for Best Director, a FIPRESCI Prize, a Film Critics Circle of Australia for Best Foreign Language Film and an Étoiles d'Or and France's Lumiere for Best Screenplay. It was also nominated for Césars in the categories of Best Director and Best Writing – Original.

“I like the multiplicity of books because each book is different in the mind of each reader. It's the same with this film. If 300 people are in a cinema watching it, they will all see a different film, so in a way there are thousands of different versions of ‘Hidden.’ The point being that, despite what TV shows us and what the news stories tell us, there is never just one truth, there is only personal truth.” Michael Haneke

2007 saw Haneke adapt his 1997 film “Funny Game” for the English language remake of the same name. The film, which starred Naomi Watts as Ann and Tim Roth as George, roles originated by Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Mühe, was largely ignored by critics and audiences. Haneke's new film, “Weiße Band, Das/The White Tape” is set for a 2009 release.


  • Chlotrudis: Best Director, “Caché/Hidden,” 2007

  • Film Critics Circle of Australia: Best Foreign Language Film, “Caché/Hidden,” 2006

  • Diagonale, Austria: Diagonale Grand Prize, Best Feature Film, “Caché/Hidden,” 2006

  • Lumiere (France): Best Screenplay (Meilleur scénario), “Caché/Hidden,” 2006

  • Étoiles d'Or: Best Screenplay (Scénario), “Caché/Hidden,” 2006

  • Cannes Film Festival: Best Director, “Caché/Hidden,” 2005

  • Cannes Film Festival: Competition, “Caché/Hidden,” 2005

  • Cannes Film Festival: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, “Caché/Hidden,” 2005

  • European Film: Best Director, “Caché/Hidden,” 2005

  • European Film: FIPRESCI Prize, “Caché/Hidden,” 2005

  • Valladolid International Film Festival: 50th Anniversary Prize, “Caché/Hidden,” 2005

  • Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Best Screenplay, “Temps du loup, Le/The Time of the Wolf,” 2003

  • German Film: Best Foreign Film, “Pianiste, La/The Piano Teacher,” 2002

  • Cannes Film Festival: Grand Prize of the Jury, “Pianiste, La/The Piano Teacher,” 2001

  • Cannes Film Festival: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages, 2000

  • Fantasporto: Critics' Award, “Funny Games,” 1998

  • Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Special Jury Award, “Funny Games,” 1998

  • Austrian People's Education: TV Award, Best TV Film (Fernsehfilm), “Schloß, Das/The Castle,” 1998

  • Baden-Baden TV Film Festival: Special Award, “Schloß, Das/The Castle,” 1998

  • Chicago International Film Festival: Silver Hugo, Best Director, “Funny Games,” 1997

  • Flanders International Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, “Funny Games,” 1997

  • Austrian People's Education: TV Award, Best TV Film (Fernsehfilm), “Rebellion, Die,” 1994

  • Baden-Baden TV Film Festival: Teleplay Award, “Rebellion, Die,” 1994

  • Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Best Film, “71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls,” 1994

  • Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Best Screenplay, “71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls,” 1994

  • Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Prize of the Catalan Screenwriter's Critic and Writer's Association, “71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls,” 1994

  • European Film: FIPRESCI Prize, “Benny's Video,” 1993

  • Viennale: “Benny's Video,” 1992

  • Locarno International Film Festival: Ernest Artaria Award, “Siebente Kontinent, Der/The Seventh Continent,” 1989

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