Diagonale 2024 is dedicating a comprehensive retrospective to filmmaker Christoph Hochhäusler.

| Nachspann |
Bis ans Ende der Nacht
Saturday, April 6, 5.30 p.m.
Schubertkino 1
More information here.


Christoph Hochhäusler is not only a filmmaker but also co-editor and founder of the German film magazine Revolver. In addition to Christoph Hochhäusler’s cinematic work, the Diagonale will be presenting the dialogue format Revolver Live! dedicated to cinematographer Jürgen Jürges in a guest appearance in Graz. In addition, Code inconnu by Michael Haneke and Eisenhans by Tankred Dorst, two films in which Jürges was responsible for the outstanding images, will be screened.

| Revolver Live! Nr. 62 |
Sunday, April 7, 11 a.m.
Diagonale Forum at the Heimatsaal
Christoph Hochhäusler and Nicolas Wackerbarth in conversation with Jürgen Jürges.

More information on Jürgen Jürges here.

| Position | Christoph Hochhäusler |

The Threads of Fiction
By Esther Buss

In a seemingly insignificant scene in Die Lügen der Sieger (2014), a journalist watches a wrestling show on television. Because he is talking on the phone with his intern at the same time, he is able to explain to her that the spectacle is merely the perfect orchestration: a so-called storyliner thought up an exciting story specifically for it.

For a moment, the reference to a spectacle that is linked with excessive passion and pain seems alien in the rather bodiless world drafted by Christoph Hochhäusler’s films. And also the investigative journalist who is enjoying the show, of course does not think that the made-up story could have anything to do with him. At the same time, in his investigation, he is about to get caught in a storyline himself.

Christoph Hochhäusler’s oeuvre, which currently comprises two short films and six features (a seventh is forthcoming and is set outside of Germany for the first time), revolves in diverse ways around lies, deception, manipulation, and play. In doing so, rather than in realistic environments, the stories occur in spaces or spheres: politics, financial capitalism, the media landscape, secret investigations—thus fields that “fictionalize” to a great degree and survive through appearances, masquerade, and performances. Even bourgeois marriage and family are able to preserve their conventions in Hochhäusler’s films only through ritual repetition and mimicry.

© Caroline Lessire

False Signs of Life

Hochhäusler’s characters are distinguished by something supra-individual. Their deceptions are not based on human defects, but instead, are products of systems. The stepmother in Milchwald (2003) who abandons the children on a country road at the German-Polish border participates in the search for them, embedded in silence. In Falscher Bekenner (2005), the portrait of a young man, who in anonymous letters claims accidents to be intentional deeds that he carried out, the deception is already there in the title, and the protagonist’s job interviews fail, no least, because of bad performances. On the other hand, in Unter Dir die Stadt (2010), a “banker of the year” who has compiled a fake biography from other people’s narratives, and transferred his lover’s husband to the other end of the world, asks his wife, “How would you know it’s me?” In Die Lügen der Sieger, companies switch their names to cover up dirty business, while a PR agent works on influencing political decisions with targeted fake news. And in the trailer for Bis ans Ende der Nacht (2023), we see an apartment being furnished and prepared with “genuine signs of life”:  in the course of a surveillance, a gay cop and a trans woman, who were once in love “for real,” play a couple in it.

But there is also another form of masquerade in Hochhäusler’s works, an additional game, one with genre film, such as the detective story and political thriller. “For me, making films is a reflection, a game with how one could live, working on a model of the world without concealing the model character,” says the director in his blog Parallelfilm. “If anything, sometimes I’m more interested in the Frankenstein stitches than in what they are holding together.”

Productive Gaps

Reflection on film history, an awareness of form, and an approach that is interested in the translation of reality, are generally considered the signature of the so-called Berliner Schule, an informal collection of filmmakers declared a group by critics, based around (initially) Angela Schanelec, Thomas Arslan, and Christian Petzold. When Hochhäusler, who was born in Munich in 1972, presented Milchwald, his feature film debut, he was immediately ascribed to a “second generation.” At the same time, he didn’t even yet know the works of the first generation, and moreover—after two years of studying architecture in Berlin—had completed his education at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München (HFF Munich) before making a permanent move to the city that gives the “Schule” or “school” its name. Looking back, it seems that Munich was formative to the extent that certain activities were clearly promoted by the gaps existing at the university (a lack of interest in creating theory): in 1998, Hochhäusler, together with Benjamin Heisenberg and Sebastian Kutzli, founded the film magazine Revolver, in which mainly filmmakers write about the cinema and their work. The magazine still exists, twenty-five years later, with a different staff: as publication (in print, the format fits in almost every jacket pocket), as initiator of events, and as news service—also for film-political issues.

Right from the start, Hochhäusler combined filmmaking and writing about film; collaborative work is also a fixed component of his practice. The screenplays for most films were created in close collaboration with Benjamin Heisenberg, Ulrich Peltzer, and most recently, Florian Plumeyer; and together with image designers Bernhard Keller and Reinhold Vorschneider (and the editor Stefan Stabenow), Hochhäusler developed a unique visual aesthetic that gives expression to an increasingly impenetrable present: through atmospheres of twilight, reflections, and camera pans limited to narrow frames, which are coupled with an impersonal, palpating gaze.

Hochhäusler’s films are experimental arrangements, about both relationships—systems and people, media and the economy, bodies and spaces, opacity and transparency—and the cinema: about what one is still capable of believing in an omnipresence of images. With every film, Hochhäusler poses these questions anew, tries out something different. Similar to wrestling, beyond the ring, the gaze always falls on where we can still see the threads of fiction.


Consent Management Platform by Real Cookie Banner