Christian Berger

An Exclusive All Day Long Lecture "Against a Dictatorship of Technology"

Christian Berger started as an assistant on the set, then went into news gathering. He grew up with black and white in the end of the 60s and 16mm in the 70s. Towards the end of the 70s everything went to the video. At that point he started working on a lot of TV plays and documentaries - shortly after he directed his own feature films - three of them. 

His debut is called RAFFL (1984), a historic movie that portraits an alpine countryside during the Napoleonic wars. "Around 1990 I thought that enough was enough; I preferred to focus on the camera as my main thing."

"When I was a kid one of the motivations to get into film was because I was falling in love with the French actress Jeanne Moreau. How she walked, how she looked, how she spoke. She was beautiful.

It was funny because two or three years ago I had her in front of my camera, and I confessed to her with my obsession, nearly blushing. And her answer was, 'and today, not any more?'"

After Berger decided for his career of cinematographer, he had a lot of problems with ordinary lightning systems - so he created his own. "With this lighting system, it gave the actors and directors freedom on the set; they would no longer be under technical dictate, which I hate." First time he used his Cine Reflect Lighting System in Haneke's movie THE PIANO TEACHER (2001). And be aware, because the light and technical dictate is a topic of Berger's lecture here at VFF.

"Michael Haneke has his own idea, which is not mine, but I have respect for it. It’s his writing and he does so much preparation. He is very precise. You cannot improvise. He would hate it because he needs absolute control over every element. But I have a free hand over the lighting and the atmosphere as we discussed. He’ll say I need in that room one little oil lamp. And that’s it! And then the rest is up to me."

The crutial point in Berger's career is his work on Michael Haneke's THE WHITE RIBBON (2009). "At the beginning we were forced to use color negative because of some contract conditions coming from TV stations. But I think now with the success of the film, they've shut up, and said we're all very courageous, I don't know. For the moment it's only in black and white." Film had two Oscar nominations, one of them for Christian's cinematography.

"The tension is created in a laconic style of images. In other words it's the brain of the spectator that creates high tension. Because you see something but you never see it really. It's never concrete there. It's only provoked."

Berger is the founding member of the Lichtakademie Bartenbach. He is currently a professor at the Filmacademy in Vienna and a guest lecturer at various international film schools.

Fun fact - he is also an uncle of the famous actress Eva Green.



There is only limited number of places for Christian Berger's lecture, so don't forget to get your accreditation as soon as possible. The lecture "The Light and the Professional Light — Against a Dictatorship of Technology!" will be held at VFF 2014 on March 14th.