Ruth Beckermann – The Poetry of the Ephemeral

Waldheims Walzer

The Waldheim Waltz

Ruth Beckermann

Austria 2018. 93 Min.
Color. DCP. D/E/F/e

In 1986, Kurt Waldheim was elected President of Austria. But during his candidacy, a historical-political debate flared up due to his past as a Nazi, which is retraced in The Waldheim Waltz. The editing of the film, which combines Beckermann’s own footage with television archive footage, is at times ironic. Following the summary of a US news presenter, who says that Waldheim’s missed majority in the first ballot gives the Austrians five more weeks to think about the allegations against the candidate, she switches to a beer tent. Here, the patriarchally, diabolically smiling candidate is conducting a brass band. The crude oompah-pah contains all the repression and silencing of a time that Waldheim left out of his biography, and his face reveals the effort it took to do so. The film culminates in a hearing in the US Congress. Waldheim’s son Gerard is visibly uncomfortable as he cowers behind a table and is given a solid dressing-down by the Democrat Tom Lantos, a Hungarian-born Jew who survived the Holocaust. The way in which Lantos dismisses the hypocritical variations of “didn’t know” with his insistent, slightly authoritarian way of speaking (“This is not like a movie you choose not to see”), could serve as an example for how we should deal with the far right today. (md)


DirectorRuth Beckermann
ScreenplayRuth Beckermann
EditingDieter Pichler
ProducerRuth Beckermann

Ruth Beckermann

Ruth Beckermann is a filmmaker and author based in Vienna. Her films include The Paper Bridge, East of War and American Passages. In 2014 her film Those Who Go Those Who Stay received the big documentary film prize at the Diagonale in Graz. Two years later The Dreamed Ones was also honored there as best feature film. The Waldheim Waltz received several awards, including the Glashütte Original – Documentary Award for best documentary film at the Berlinale 2018, as well as an Oscar nomination. In 2019 Ruth Beckermann created the installation Joyful Joyce for the Salzburg Festival.