Ruth Beckermann

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Ruth Beckermann in 2018

Ruth Beckermann (born 1952, Vienna) is a Jewish Austrian filmmaker and writer.

Beckermann lives and works as an independent author and filmmaker in Vienna and Paris. Her films have been shown at prestigious festivals (most of them premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival [1] or the Cinéma du Réel[2] Festival in Paris). Her films Paper Bridge and East of War have won several major awards.

Life and career[edit]

Ruth Beckermann was born in Vienna, Austria in 1952. Her parents were Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.[3]

Beckermann studied Journalism and Art History in Vienna and Tel Aviv, and received her doctorate in 1977. In New York she studied Photography at the School of Visual Arts.[4] During her studies she worked as an editor for the magazines Weltwoche and Trend.

Her first film was made in cooperation with Josef Aichholzer and Franz Grafl of the Videogroup Arena in 1977. Shot on video and 16mm film, Arena Squatted[5] documented the occupation of the old Viennese slaughterhouse Arena. The following year, Beckermann founded the film distribution company Filmladen along with Aichholzer and Grafl, where she continued working until 1985.

In 1978 and 1981, filmed shot two documentaries, Suddenly A Strike[6] and The Steelhammer Out there on The Grass[7] on the topics of labour and strike. She also wrote her first books during that period of time.

In 1983, Beckermann released Return to Vienna,[8][9] which documents the journeys and experiences of Franz West, a Jewish Social-Democrat living in Vienna during the First and Second World War. The film is the first of a trilogy, in which Beckermann deals with Jewish narratives of loss, memory and identity. Following this film, Paper Bridge[10] was released in 1987 and depicts a journey leading from Vienna to Romania, where Beckermann visits the Bukovina region, the birthplace of her father during a time when this region was still under Habsburg rule. In Towards Jerusalem[11] Beckermann travels between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while exploring the Zionist utopia of a Jewish homeland. These films - Return to Vienna, Paper Bridge and Towards Jerusalem use different forms of travel as both content and formal organizing principle.

In 1996, East of War[12] was made during the so-called Wehrmachtsausstellung. In front of the out-of-focus-photographs, former soldiers of the German Wehrmacht talk about their experiences beyond the "normal" war. A film which not only pushes forward the destruction of the "good-Wehrmacht" myth, but also takes a close look at the process of constructing history in post-World War II Austria.

In her 1999 film, A Fleeting Passage to The Orient,[13] she follows the traces of Elisabeth of Bavaria. In 2001, homemad(e)[14] depicts how the political turn in 2000 was reflected in a Viennese coffee house.

Five years later, she followed four 12-year-olds on their journey to Bar Mitzva.[15][16] was shown in festivals in Paris' (Cinema du Reel,[17]), Vienna (Viennale[18] 06) in Buenos Aires and Chicago and became a success with audiences.

In 2011, American Passages,[19][20] premiered in the competition[21] at the Cinéma du Réel.[22]

Beckermann is a founding member of the Austrian Documentary and Filmmakers Society.[23]

She taught at the University of Salzburg, the University of Illinois and at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. A DVD collection[24] of her films was released in 2007.



  • The Waldheim Waltz (2018)
  • Jackson/Marker 4AM (2012)
  • American Passages (2011)
  • Zorros Bar Mizwa (2006)
  • Homemad(e) (2000)
  • Ein flüchtiger Zug nach dem Orient (1999) aka A Fleeting Passage to the Orient - International (English title)
  • Jenseits des Krieges (1996) aka East of War - USA
  • Nach Jerusalem (1991) aka Towards Jerusalem - International (English title)
  • The Paper Bridge (1987)
  • Return to Vienna (1983)
  • Arena Squatted (1977)

Most of her feature-length films are available in the U.S.

Further reading[edit]

  • Alexander Horwath, Michael Omasta (Ed.): Ruth Beckermann, FilmmuseumSynemaPublikationen Vol. 29, Vienna: 2016, ISBN 978-3-901644-68-9


  1. ^ "Berlinale | Archiv | Jahresarchive | 1987 | Programm". Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  2. ^ Archived from the original on April 25, 2010. Retrieved April 22, 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Baker and Rohrbacher (2009). ""E/Motion Pictures": Conversations with Austrian Documentary Filmmakers Mirjam Unger and Ruth Beckermann". Women in German Yearbook.
  4. ^ "School of Visual Arts > Fine Arts and Graphic Design School in New York City". 2012-08-29. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  5. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Ruth Beckermann. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  6. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Ruth Beckermann. 1978-11-05. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  7. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Ruth Beckermann. 1981-03-28. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  8. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Ruth Beckermann. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  9. ^ "Return to Vienna". Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  10. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Retrieved 2015-10-23.
  11. ^ "Towards Jerusalem".
  12. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Ruth Beckermann. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  13. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Ruth Beckermann. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  14. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Ruth Beckermann. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  15. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Ruth Beckermann. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  16. ^ "Zorro's Bar Mitzvah". 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  17. ^ Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Ruth Beckermann". Ruth Beckermann. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  20. ^ Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ [1] Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ [2] Archived January 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ "/ Aktuelles". Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  24. ^ Lieferzeit: 2 bis 5 Werktage. (2007-11-14). "Film Collection | BECKERMANN, RUTH | HOANZL Shop". Retrieved 2012-10-08.

External links[edit]