Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner is writing a film about workplace culture with the working title Toxic.
Hausner, most recently in Cannes Competition with Club Zero, said this will be her most optimistic and hopeful film. The new idea will be about a person who tries to change the world, and the film will have a happy ending. It’s about the hope you can change things for the better.”
The film will be about “working hours, the working atmosphere – toxic workers,” she continued, explaining she had yet to determine whether the film will be shot in English or German.
Hausner’s sister Tanja Hausner, one of the director’s trusted advisors, is already giving feedback on the project. “First, I do extensive research and then write the script.” It takes me normal a year to develop a story,” the filmmaker explained.
She has not ruled out the possibility of shooting again in English and with UK partners, as she did on both her recent features Little Joe and Club Zero. She claims to have a natural affinity for the British.
“I can relate to the dry humor.” It’s a cliché, but I thought that Britain has a very dry, ironic sense of humour combined with an exaggerated politeness, and I liked that. Philippe Bober is again set to be involved as producer and his company Coproduction Office to handle international sales.
“MeToo changed everything”
Hausner was talking to
Screen during the Sarajevo Film Festival which hosted a retrospective of her films. She spoke openly about the virulent discrimination she experienced in the Austrian film business when she started her career in Vienna, in the 1990s. I didn’t believe that the producers of Haneke, and Ullrich Siedl would respect and honor my ideas in the same way that they respected and honored those male colleagues. It’s sad, but it’s true. That was one of the reasons I founded my now production company because I had the feeling that I cannot rely on that male tradition.”
Thanks to #MeToo, the director believes Austrian chauvinism is at last now being confronted.[Michael]”The whole #MeToo movement has challenged us all and has shown us that this patriarchy exists. We almost forgot…I was living in an environment where I decided to accept this patriarchy. Then #MeToo happened and I decided that maybe I didn’t need to accept it. I didn’t even have to live with this. This #MeToo campaign was a real eye-opener for me. It changed a lot.”
The Austrian Director acknowledged that she had a pessimistic, sceptical outlook on life. “Yes, I do.” I can only say that I feel love because I have a wonderful family, a wonderful husband, and a wonderful child. But I also doubt these feelings immediately. But I think it’s OK. Both can exist simultaneously – the feeling as well as the intellectual questioning. In the background, decay is present. In every sense, decay can occur. Even if you are in love with someone, that love can change over time. You can live today, you can die tomorrow,” she ruminated in typically cheerful fashion.
Hausner is a Sarajevo regular.
“The first time I was there was in 1999. It was very soon after the war. The historical background of the city impressed me greatly. The war had an impact on this city that was tragic, sad and dramatic. I felt it then. Since then, I’ve had a very warm relationship with the city and come back again and again…I have a feeling that the Q&As or the screenings will be particularly interesting. I like it very much.” She gave a masterclass where she explained why she admires the work of experimental US film maker Maya Deren, and the early stages of her career. Haunser said that she was writing short stories, but had a friend who’s father worked for television at the time. “We borrowed the video camera from his father and made a movie out of one of the stories I wrote,” Haunser said. Her friend acted. She also shot the film.
“That was the exact moment that fascinated me, to see what I imagined happening right in front of me. I think this notion of doing it, making it become real, is what I love about filmmaking.”
When she entered film school in Vienna in the early 1990s, Hausner didn’t have any specific role models. “I had to find my own way in the jungle – and I thought doing that, maybe it’s best to go international right from the beginning,” she said of why she immediately started submitting her shorts to international festivals.
Sarajevo Film Festival closed on Saturday August 18. The Sarajevo Film Festival closed on Saturday, August 18.