"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
Production company: Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion GmbH | Wasserburgergasse 5/7 | 1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 1 310 28 24 | F +43 1 319 56 64 | E firstname.lastname@example.org | www.ulrichseidl.com
- 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
Born in Vienna in 1965, Veronika Franz studied philosophy and literature. In addition to working as a film journalist for a Viennese daily, she has since 1997 accompanied the work of Ulrich Seidl as an artistic collaborator. Among other texts, she wrote with Seidl the screenplays for Dog Days (2001), Import Export (2007) and the PARADISE Trilogy (2012). She has also worked as an assistant director and casting agent. The documentary Kern (2012) was both her debut as a director and the first film she made together with Severin Fiala. It was followed by Goodnight Mommy.
Born in Horn in 1985, Severin Fiala studied at the Vienna Film Academy. He worked for the Red Cross and first gained recognition for the award-winning short film Elephant Skin (2009, co-directed with Ulrike Putzer). His first collaboration with Veronika Franz was the internationally award-winning documentary Kern, which premiered at the Locarno Film Festival. It was followed by their first joint fiction feature, Goodnight Mommy, which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and sold to 25 countries. The film was particularly successful in the USA, Mexico, Chile and Ecuador. It has won 27 prizes and screened at over 80 festivals.
"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