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Austria, 1997 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Michael Haneke

The first Austrian film to be invited to Cannes in 35 years, Michael Haneke's Funny Games caused an incredible reaction at initial screenings. Outraged journalists spread descriptions that evoked a moving sculpture of remorselessness, an icy pinnacle of violence inspired by the media. They reasoned that only a pathological, perverse type was able to put such a lusty form of violence on the screen so perfectly, and ignored Haneke's moral motives.

Michael Haneke's films deal with coldness, lack of communication and the ever increasing levels ol violence in today's society. Funny Games is a chilling psychological thriller about an innocent family on vacation who have their lakeside idyll shattered by random brutality. Mundane travelling games, greeting the neighbours who stop by to borrow some eggs; the everyday provides a brief prelude to terror when an unwanted guest wagers the family that their lives will be over within 12 hours, before taking them prisoner.

The casual manner in which both psychological and physical torture are utilised and the sadistic nature of the family's assailants will unnerve some viewers but Haneke is holding a mirror up to society. The director goads us into dissecting similar incidents in genre films that we are asked to accept as entertainment that is no more threatening than a carnival ride.

"What I present to the audience naturally makes them nervous. I think this means of offering provocation ls vitally important. Questions have to be asked." - Michael Haneke

Born in 1942 in Munich, Michael Haneke studied philosophy, psychology and theatre in Vienna. He commenced working as a scriptwriter for German television in 1967 and has also worked extensively in theatre in both Austria and Germany. Working freelance as a television director and writer, Haneke has helmed a dozen films since 1974, these include: The Seventh Continent (1989), Benny's Video (1992), 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994) and The Castle (1996).

See also...


Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. ... From the unerring hand of Michael Haneke (Funny Games, MIFF 08; Hidden, MIFF 05; The Time of the Wolf, MIFF 03) comes a tautly ... More »


This searing new film from Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, MIFF 2001, Funny Games, MIFF 1998), starring Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher), arrives straight from Official Selection at Cannes ... More »


“Of course this film is a provocation. It is meant as a provocation.” - filmmaker Michael Haneke ... In this shot-for-shot remake of his own 1997 feature, Michael Haneke (Hidden, MIFF 05) doesn't ... More »


Winner of the Grand Jury Prize, Best Actor and Best Actress. Cannes 2001.Michael Haneke's The Piano Teacher is an audacious film. That it remains as effective as it does, can be attributed to ... More »


Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and Anne (Juliette Binoche) live a model middle-class life in Paris, with their well-adjusted son, Pierrot. Georges is a TV host and Anne works in publishing. While there are ... More »


Winner of Cannes' coveted top prize, the Palme d'Or. ... Unfolding largely within the protective shell of a Parisian apartment, filmmaker Michael Haneke's (The White Ribbon MIFF 09, Funny Games MIFF ... More »

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