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Ruth Beckermann


Ruth Beckermann

Ruth Beckermann (born 1952, Vienna) is a Jewish Austrian filmmaker.

Beckermann lives and works as an independent author and filmmaker in Vienna and Paris. Her films have been shown at prestigious festivals (most of them premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival [1] or the Cinéma du Réel[2] Festival in Paris). Her films Paper Bridge and East of War have won several major awards.

Life and career

Beckermann studied Journalism/Communications Studies and Art History in Vienna and Tel Aviv, and graduated in 1977 as Dr.phil. In New York she studied Photography at the School of Visual Arts.[3] During her studies she worked as an editor for the magazines Weltwoche and Trend.

Her first film was made in cooperation with the Videogroup Arena in 1977. Shot on video and 16mm film, Arena Squatted[4] documented the squatting of the old Viennese slaughterhouse Arena. In the following years, Beckermann founded the film distribution 'Filmladen', and kept working there for the next seven years.

In 1978 and 1981, she shot two documentaries, Suddenly A Strike[5] and The Steelhammer Out there on The Grass[6] on the topic of labour and strike, both films where shot on 16mm. She also wrote her first books during that period of time.

In 1983, Return to Vienna[7][8] was made. The film is the first of a trilogy, in which Beckermann deals with Jewish identity, following traces of individual and collective paths through various cultures. Three films - Return to Vienna, Paoer Bridge[9] and Towards Jerusalem[10] used different forms of traveling and being-on-the-road, as both content and formal principle.

In 1996, East of War[11] was made during the so-called Wehrmachtsausstellung. In front of the out-of-focus-photographs, former soldiers of the German Wehrmacht talk about their experiences beyond the "normal" war. A film which not only pushes forward the destruction of the "good-Wehrmacht" myth, but also takes a close look at the process of constructing history in post-World War II Austria.

In her 1999 film, A Fleeting Passage to The Orient,[12] she follows the traces of Elisabeth of Bavaria. In 2001, Homemad(e)[13] depicts how the political turn in 2000 was reflected in a Viennese coffee house.

Five years later, she followed four 12-year-olds on their journey to Bar Mitzva.[14][15] was shown in festivals in Paris' (Cinema du Reel,[16]), Vienna (Viennale[17] 06) in Buenos Aires and Chicago and became a success with audiences.

Her most recent film, American Passages,[18][19] premiered in the competition[20] at the 2011 edition of Cinéma du Réel.[21]

Beckermann is a founding member of the Austrian Documentary and Filmmakers Society.[22]

She taught at the University of Salzburg, the University of Illinois and at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. A DVD collection[23] of her entire work as a film maker was released in 2007.


  • American Passages (2011)
  • Zorros Bar Mizwa (2006)
  • Homemad(e) (2000)
  • Ein flüchtiger Zug nach dem Orient (1999) aka A Fleeting Passage to the Orient - International (English title)
  • Jenseits des Krieges (1996) aka East of War - USA
  • Nach Jerusalem (1991) aka Towards Jerusalem - International (English title)
  • The Paper Bridge (1987)
  • Return to Vienna (1983)
  • Arena Squatted (1977)

Most of her feature-length films are available in the U.S.


External links

  • Official website
  • Internet Movie Database
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