Monika Willi "Developing the Narrative Structure out of the Material"

Monika Willi is an Austrian film editor known for her many years of collaboration with Michael Glawogger (Workingman's Death, Whores' Glory) and Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, The White Ribbon, Amour, Happy End). 



Monika Willi was born in Innsbruck, Austria. She never studied at any film school but she always wanted to work in film. After ten years of rotating in different film professions, from a second camera assistant through assistant editor, director Florian Flicker offered her a collaboration on Suzie Washington on the advice of his own editor at the end of the 1990s.  

“The editing room is a very vulnerable place, mutual trust between director and editor is a necessary basis. Initially, for the director it’s a confrontation with the footage, succeeded and failed, joy and pain. You have to allow and be allowed to talk about everything, live out emotions and fragility ­– it’s no place to act the hero. Often, those filmmakers who look strong to the outside world are very doubtful in this stage.”

Monika Willi

At the end of 1990s she also met two directors with whom she started a long-term cooperation - Michael Haneke and Michael Glawogger. “Collaboration with Michael Haneke is something totally different than with Michael Glawogger.” Monika Willi started to work with Haneke on the French-language psychological thriller film based on the novel of the same name by Elfriede Jelinek - The Piano Teacher. Willi: "Michael Haneke knows what he wants and is always very well prepared. And he goes for what he wants. Editing a Haneke-film is more to nail precision.“

Their cooperation continued with all other Haneke´s films - Le temps du loup, the American remake of Funny Games, Oscar nominated White Ribbon, Oscar awarded Amour or Haneke´s latest film Happy End

“Each director has his own approach to filmmaking. Haneke has a very clear idea of the film from the start, so he works with a great degree of accuracy. Sometimes the material provides greater possibilities to create the film, sometimes smaller.”

Monika Willi

France, Here We Come!
 was the first film Monika Willi edited for filmmaker Michael Glawogger who was covering and crossing all the genres with his films. Their cooperation continued on a documentary on the extremes to which workers will go to earn a living - Workingman's Death, followed by a psychedelic gangster comedy - Contact High and a portrait of prostitutes in Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico - Whores' Glory

As Monika remembers the beginning of Glawogger´s journey to filming Untitled"With Untitled everything was different ­– the artistic approach to filming, the way of filmmaking,  technique, time… No topic was the motto, serendipty the concept. The automatic reply on his voicemail was: "I’m on a one-year-trip (December 2013 to December 2014) and will only be able to pick up my mails very sporadically". But every time he went to a new country he inserted a new Sim card, so he was in constant communication with a small circle of people."  

Tragically, Michael Glawogger died from malaria four days after incorrectly being diagnosed of typhus, while shooting in Liberia in April 2014. The original project thus came to an end and there were a lot of options of how to continue – bringing in a new director or archiving material etc. Finally, Monika Willi decided to finish the film by herself out of the film footage produced during 4 months and 19 days of shooting in the Balkans, Italy, Northwest and West Africa. "I made my interest clear to Michael’s wife Andrea Glawogger and to the production company, and they decided to trust me, which I very much appreciated. Untitled in its present form was resubmitted in May 2015. We got the green light for it late in autumn 2015", she said. Untitled found its way into many festivals worldwide and was awarded with many prizes.

Selected filmography:

Styx  (2018)
Happy End  (2017)
Untitled (Documentary)  (2017)
Wilde Maus  (2017)
Thank You for Bombing  (2015)
Last Summer  (2014)
Die Lebenden  (2012)
Amour (2012)
Whores' Glory (Documentary)  (2011)
White Ribbon  (2009)
Contact High (2009)
Funny Games  (2007)
Workingman's Death (Documentary)  (2005)
Le temps du loup  (2003)
Richtung Zukunft durch die Nacht  (2002)
Hainburg - Je t'aime, gendarme  (2001)
Pianistka  (2001)
Der Überfall  (2000)
Frankreich, wir kommen (Documentary)  (2000)
Nordrand  (1999)
Suzie Washington (1998)