Limited time - use promo code: TRUESTORY50 at checkout

Ruth Beckermann: Keep the Camera Rolling

Ruth Beckermann: Keep the Camera Rolling

"Cinema should also be about the before, the after, and everything in between. That’s why we liked to keep the camera rolling at the end of a shot: the really interesting stuff often happens after the superficially 'important' has taken place." - Ruth Beckermann

We’re proud to present Austrian filmmaker Ruth Beckermann’s celebrated body of work on True Story for audiences both old and new to explore her extensive contribution to documentary filmmaking.

Ruth Beckermann was born and spent her childhood in Vienna. Following studies in journalism and art history, and a year in Tel Aviv and New York, she completed her doctorate degree in 1977 at the University of Vienna.

Her earliest work explored protests: ARENA SQUATTED (1977) finds Beckermann immersed in an occupation to protect a former slaughterhouse turned counter-cultural arts venue from demolition; SUDDENLY A STRIKE (1978) and THE STEEL HAMMER OUT THERE ON THE GRASS (1981) respectively observe strikes at a tyre factory and steel plant.

Much of Beckermann’s work has grappled with Austria’s Nazi past, and the repression of its memory: PAPER BRIDGE (1987) explores her own family history and the story of Central European Jews; in EAST OF WAR (1996) Beckermann talks to Austrian men who fought as part of the Nazi German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front; and in THE WALDHEIM WALTZ (2018) she returns to footage shot in 1986 of the presidential campaign of former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, whose attempts to cover up his role in the Wehrmacht brought divisions and anti-semitism in Austrian society bubbling to the surface once more.

Beckermann’s work includes road movies: TOWARDS JERUSALEM (1991) takes a journey from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to explore what has become of the dream of the Jewish homeland; AMERICAN PASSAGES (2011) travels from New York to Las Vegas shortly after the election of Barack Obama, capturing a diverse portrait of a nation and its people, for whom the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the 1776 constitution.

Along the way Beckermann makes a Viennese Jewish docu-soap opera ZORRO’S BAR MITZVAH (2006), and hybrid fiction/doc THE DREAMED ONES (2016), a major success on the international festival circuit, which delicately explores the unlikely love letters between poets Ingeborg Bachmann, the daughter of a Nazi party member, and Paul Celan, a Holocaust survivor.

Always at pains to ask probing, important questions, but also to let the camera observe, inviting the audience to navigate their own way through complex representations, Ruth Beckermann’s impressive body of work cements her reputation as one of Europe’s pre-eminent documentary filmmakers.

"best known for investigating the uncomfortable corners of her country’s psyche. Much of the appeal of Beckermann’s quietly extraordinary documentaries...relies on her talent for extracting confessions that she hasn’t had to ask for" - THE GUARDIAN -

Ruth Beckermann: Keep the Camera Rolling
  • Ruth Beckermann Collection - Trailer

  • Arena Squatted

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann, Franz Grafl, Josef Aichholzer - 1977 - Austria

    A derelict slaughterhouse in Vienna hosts cabaret shows by the Vienna Festival in 1975. As the shows come to an end in 1976, the audience are encouraged to stay and squat the buildings to prevent their destruction. ARENA SQUAT...

  • Suddenly, A Strike

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann, Josef Aichholzer - 1977 - Austria

    In the Semperit tyre factory, the only strike after World War II takes place in May 1978, lasting for three weeks. The film shows the course of the strike in interviews, photos, graphics and talks at a pub; it draws attention to the positio...

  • The Steel Hammer Out There On The Grass

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann, Josef Aichholzer, Michael Stejskal - 1981 - Austria

    On March 28th, 1981, 10.000 people in the city of Judenburg take to the streets to fight for their jobs at the steel plant that is threatened with closure. The film shows how the international steel crisis affected Austria...

  • Return to Vienna

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann, Josef Aichholzer - 1983 - Austria

    A master storyteller remembers his youth in Vienna. Franz West (1900 –1985) recalls his Jewish family, his commitment to the workers' movement in Red Vienna along with the rise of Austro-Fascism and National Socialism. His memories of the d...

  • Paper Bridge

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 1987 - Austria

    Ruth Beckermann’s exploration of her own family past is both the story of the Central European Jews and a history of the region. Her journey takes her from Vienna, where her grandmother lived in hiding during the war amongst the Nazis by posing as a deaf-mut...

  • Towards Jerusalem

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 1990 - Austria

    What became of the dream of the Jewish homeland? A still relevant documentary road movie shot along the highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Trucks, gas stations, construction workers, soldiers, Russian immigrants, taxi drivers, security guards: encounter...

  • East of War

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 1996 - Austria

    White-tiled rooms, neon lighting, on the walls the black and white photographs of the exhibition “War of Extermination”, which documents the atrocities committed by the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. Against this background, Ruth Beckermann films for...

  • A Fleeting Passage to the Orient

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 1999 - Austria

    An essay film about Empress Elisabeth of Austria’s attempts to vanish from the picture. A film about Orientalism and of a woman on the road. Shot in Egypt, the film features a text written by the filmmaker and music from the Kronos-Quartet. The camera slips ...

  • Homemad(e)

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 84min - 2001 - Austria

    Marc-Aurel-Street in Vienna: here you’ll find the few remaining Jewish merchants in the former textile quarter, the Iranian hotel keeper, and Café Salzgries with its regulars. Ruth Beckermann spent a year undertaking a series of small journeys in fro...

  • Mozart Enigma

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 1min - 2006 - Austria

    MOZART ENIGMA is an ironic comment on biographical pseudo-documentaries. Envisioning a person? Is that possible? Why not go to a fortune teller, take off your wig and have your cards read?

    We put together a photo collage for the film MOZART ENIGMA. W...

  • Zorro's Bar Mitva

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 2006 - Austria

    At the Wailing Wall or in the spotlight of a stage, wearing a Zorro costume or a designer dress, solemn or rollicking: crossing the threshold to the adult world can take place in very different ways. This film accompanies four 12-year-olds — Sharon, Tom, Moi...

  • American Passages

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 120min - 2011 - Austria

    An epic panorama of America after the election of Barack Obama. American Passages is an associative journey through the U.S. that begins in New York on election day and ends in Las Vegas at the roulette table. Disillusioned Iraqi war veterans, gay a...

  • Jackson/Marker 4AM

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 3min - 2012 - Austria

    Introduced with a quote that invents its own creator, someone is dancing in a figure skating costume to a piece of music that conceals its source.

    Jackson/Marker 4am: A cinematic fragment, vibrant in its mystery.

  • Those Who Go Those Who Stay - Trailer

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 75min - 2013 - Austria

    Rain on a window pane, a fire truck, a tomcat with innumerable offspring: it is an intentionally unintentional gaze that allows for chance encounters, for stories and memories – leads that Ruth Beckermann follows across Europe and the Mediterranean. ...

  • Those Who Go Those Who Stay

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 75min - 2013 - Austria

    Rain on a window pane, a fire truck, a tomcat with innumerable offspring: it is an intentionally unintentional gaze that allows for chance encounters, for stories and memories – leads that Ruth Beckermann follows across Europe and the Mediterranean. ...

  • The Waldheim Waltz - Trailer

    Dir. Ruth Beckermann - 93min - 2018 - Austria

    When I looked at the material I shot 30 years ago, I was shocked. Had I really forgotten how easily emotions can be stirred up against others and used by populist politicians? In THE WALDHEIM WALTZ I attempt to analyse what was going on back then, th...

  • The Waldheim Waltz

    A film about truth and lies or “alternative facts”. About individual and collective consciousness.

    “Waldheim no, Waldheim no” shouts a crowd in the centre of Vienna in 1986. Ruth Beckermann was one of the activists trying to prevent the election of Kurt Waldheim and documented the political eve...