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Focus on Ruth Beckermann

MUBI Special

At the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, the acclaimed documentarian Ruth Beckermann presented her latest film, The Waldheim Waltz, which went on to win the Best Documentary award and tour around many more worldwide festivals. We are therefore delighted to show 11 films by the director in partnership with the DOK Leipzig festival, who for their 61st edition, are presenting an homage to Ruth Beckermann, rightly named Document/Demonstrate.

Beckermann’s work is strongly imbedded in the political, historical and personal, but always in view to comment or understand the present. Throughout the years, the Austrian filmmaker’s films have constantly engaged with new forms (such as personal essays, fictional readings, found footage films) to explore Jewish cultural history and identity (Towards Jerusalem, Zorro’s Bar Mitzva ), anti-semitism and the Nazi era (East of War ), but also xenophobia and migration (Those Who Go, Those Who Stay ). Her multilayered investigations of personal and collective memory attempt to reveal the latter’s potential limitations when seeking historical truth, and the ways these might have shaped our understanding of our current situation.

The Dreamed Ones

Ruth Beckermann Austria, 2016

Elegantly weaving epistolary film, fiction and doc, Ruth Beckermann’s The Dreamed Ones blurs expected delineations to serve the core of its project: the love correspondence between two poets in post-war Europe. Their connection revives through the words themselves, and the act of their reading.

Those Who Go Those Who Stay

Ruth Beckermann Austria, 2013

Ruth Beckermann embarks on an essayistic voyage around the Mediterranean, interweaving fleeting moments of life, journeys of migration, and personal elements. A patchwork of images in turns reflective and evocative, with a delicate attention to detail, composition and the pace of the present moment.

American Passages

Ruth Beckermann Austria, 2011

Programmed in partnership with DOK Leipzig, our focus on acclaimed Austrian documentarian Ruth Beckermann continues with American Passages, the filmmaker’s 2011 travelogue across the United States. A fascinating panoramic view of the country, from the perspective of an outsider.

Zorros Bar Mizwa

Ruth Beckermann Austria, 2006

Next in our focus on Ruth Beckermann is a piercing examination of the Jewish ritual of the Bar Mitzwa through various perspectives. Although not denied irony, with an observant camera this documentary raises many questions on the place of tradition and representation in contemporary society.

Homemad(e)

Ruth Beckermann Austria, 2001

By observing locals talking and walking on the pavement of her own street, Ruth Beckerman reveals to us a panorama of past and present Vienna. Right outside our homes a thousand fleeting, fascinating events occur all the time, which might divulge way more than it seems if we look closely enough.

A Fleeting Passage to the Orient

Ruth Beckermann Austria, 1999

Empress Sissi’s embellished story is peeled away in Ruth Beckermann’s essayistic road movie, in which she embarks on a multilayered trip through history, in search of a truer image hidden behind myth. The exoticism of the foreign land is pondered over through the eyes of two women, centuries apart.

East of War

Ruth Beckermann Austria, 1996

In her journal kept during this film’s production, Ruth Beckermann wrote: “Between interrogation and pity. I must keep a distanced view. How do you film enemies?” The harrowing reactions of ex-soldiers constitute an uneasy evidence of the importance and the dangers of memory when writing history.

Toward Jerusalem

Ruth Beckermann Austria, 1990

Toward Jerusalem attests to Ruth Beckermann’s unique approach to filmmaking–one made of the encounters that occur during her travels, of the moments which unravel during her own attentive drift. A journey of discovery across Israel, a land previously known through the stories of her childhood.

The Paper Bridge

Ruth Beckermann Austria, 1987

Through an initial desire to travel to the places attached to her ancestors’ memories, Ruth Beckermann embarked on a journey which became a wider exploration of the region’s Jewish history. As it follows routes of migration and persecution, the personal and historical are intricately interwoven.

Wien retour

Ruth Beckermann, Josef Aichholzer Austria, 1983

In her first feature, Beckermann interviews Franz West to establish a parallel between the disintegration of the Austrian labor movement and the fate of the Jews in Vienna’s interwar period. Through his testimonies and archive pictures, this dark transition in the city’s history is eerily conveyed.

Arena Squatted

Josef Aichholzer, Ruth Beckermann, Franz Grafl Austria, 1977

We open our focus on the Austrian documentarist Ruth Beckermann with her first film, marking the first steps of her political cinema. Co-directed with other members of a video collective active during the leftist protest and squat supporting the autonomous Arena cultural centre in Vienna.

Life is too short for bad films

Every day we hand-pick a beautiful new film and you have a whole month to watch it, so there’s always 30 perfectly curated films to discover.