"This is a film without a concept where someone had the idea of making a movie, but no idea of what they're doing. I don't see any concept, any idea, I see nothing. Just helpless people who are flailing about. I call it a flailing film." Peter Kern in Kern.
Two directors make a documentary about Peter Kern, the disputed director and disputatious actor, the choirboy and fat guy on talk shows, the gay man and collaborator of Werner Schroeter and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. But Peter Kern won't let himself be so easily squeezed into the classical form of a documentary. He doubts, criticizes, rebels - and the filmmakers approve. Kern is both the portrait of a filmmaker and a confrontation: a film about film and a film director who died in the summer of 2015 at the age of 66.
Austria 2012 | 97 min
Producer: Ulrich Seidl | Directors: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala | Camera: Harald Traindl | Sound: Severin Fiala | Editors: Birgit Bergmann and Nikolaus Eckhard | Production manager: Martin Maier | Cast: Peter Kern, Traute Furthner, Lucyna Kopec, Susanne Wuest
- Director's statement
"Is Kern telling the truth? Or is he acting? Or does he say the truth even when he's acting? Peter Kern is an actor, director, manipulator, story-teller and someone with secrets. Perhaps that's the only answer you can give. But we are left with the question of truth in documentary film. Yes, it's there. Even though the film lies to us from beginning to end. What is real, what is a lie? What is acted, what is faked and how is it done? Our film isn't just a film about a film director, but also one about filmmaking." - Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala
Veronika Franz, born 1965 in Vienna, studied German and Philosophy. Originally a film journalist for the Viennese daily newspaper Kurier, she has accompanied Ulrich Seidl's work as an artistic assistant since 1997. With him she has written the screenplays for all his films, including "Dog Days" (2001), "Import Export" (2007) and the "PARADISE Trilogy" (2012/2013) and "Wicked Games" (in production). In 2003 she also founded the Ulrich Seidl Filmproduction with him.
The documentary "Kern" (2012, co-directed with Severin Fiala) was her debut. This was followed by the first feature film, also with Fiala "Goodnight Mommy" (2014), which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, won several awards and was sent as an Austrian contribution to Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film. A US-Remake of the film is in the making, produced by the production company Animal Kingdom ("It Follows", "It comes at Night"). "The Lodge", the first English-language feature film directed by the duo, was produced by Hammerfilm and Film Nation ("The Arrival") and features US stars Riley Keough and Jaeden Lieberher. It celebrated his world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2019.
Severin Fiala, born in 1985 in Horn, studied at the Vienna Film Academy. He works for the Red Cross and had his first success with the award-winning short film "Elefantenhaut" (2009, co-directed with Ulrike Putzer).
His first collaboration with Veronika Franz was the internationally acclaimed documentary "Kern" (premiered at the Locarno Film Festival). The first joint feature film "Ich seh Ich seh" ("Goodnight Mommy", 2014), which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, won several awards and was sent as an Austrian contribution to Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film. An american remake of the film is being produced by the production company Animal Kingdom ("It Follows", "It comes at Night"). "The Lodge", the duo's first English-language feature film, was produced by Hammerfilm and Film Nation ("The Arrival") and features US stars Riley Keough and Jaeden Lieberher. It celebrated his world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2019.
"Kern isn't one of those portraits where the boundaries between the filmmakers and protagonists are clearly drawn, but rather an open game: On the one hand the camera is a hated object ('a flailing film,' Kern inveighs); but for a performer like him it also becomes a (much too) seductive stage on which he sings, screams, cries, dances and talks about his life. It's not easy to stand up to this man, but Franz and Fiala succeed in doing so in a cleverly playful manner, by using the documentary film as a hall of mirrors with many exits."
Dominik Kamalzadeh and Isabella Reicher, Der Standard
"Franz and Fiala put up with a slew of insults and rebukes. But their persistence pays off in enabling themselves to uncover facets of an unpredictable artist - and talk about filmmaking itself. Again and again moments of directing are revealed; the "making of" of a documentary film. 'You'll never learn the truth about me, ' Kern thunders. And he is right. It's not the truth we learn, but rather many truths."
Alexandra Seibel, Kurier
"In the documentary Kern, Peter Kern challenges directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala: A 'flailing film' like theirs can never do him justice, he protests - after which Kern can't help but direct himself on camera. The result is a film that is as rich as it is amusing about a steadfastly contradictory figure, who falls uncontrollably into fits of rage on his own sets. ('He's a bit horse today, ' the cameraman murmurs), and then completely bewitches everyone with his sitting dance performance of 'Stand By Me.'"
Christoph Huber, Die Presse
- Awards | Festivals
"Talent Dove," DOK Leipzig, 2012
World premiere: Diagonale Festival of Austrian Films, Graz, 2012
Locarno, Buenos Aires, DOK Leipzig, Rotterdam
Pressphotos: 15x25 cm / 300dpi / jpg / each ca 1MB
© Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion
A film by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala