CHRISTIAN BERGER   AAC

 

Born: 13 January 1945, Innsbruck, Tyrol [Tirol], Austria.

Career: 'I found a job with a lighting engineer, a man who became very important for me later. He had nothing to do with film. His company had offices in Innsbruck, Munich and Switzerland, and they planned lighting for hospitals, streets, bridges and airports. I worked three years there, and then I bought a Bolex. I had no idea - nobody was interested and there were no jobs, but I said that I had to do film. I worked for a year as a camera assistant near Vienna, where at first I just cleaned cameras and lamps. I worked as an assistant for a director who couldn't pay me, but who gave me some 16mm equipment instead. I was able to find work for Austrian television [ORF-Landesstudio für Tirol und Vorarlberg] in 1968. I was there at just the right moment. I started in newsgathering. I was a journalist. I had to write the reports and shoot 16mm b&w reversal film.' Founded his own prod company, TTV Film, in 1973. 'We were five or six people, and eventually I could do television documentaries and magazine shows, rather than just one- or two-minute reports. With each project, we set aside some of the money, and we would use that money to make small films with friends. Around this time I also started to make plays for television. At one point, we had dreams of running our own public access television station, but luckily I didn't fall into the video trap as quickly as some of my colleagues. The best quality video at that time was U-matic, and now there aren't any machines to play that back with. By the end of the 1970s, I stopped doing the news jobs.' [From interview with Bob Fisher on the KODAK OnFilm website.]

Ph commercials.

Developed, together with Christian Bartenbach, the Cine Reflect Lighting System [B&B CRLS, manufactured by PANI Projection and Lighting]. 'The system was developed to mimic nature. Like the sun, it uses a single powerful parallel beam light source, and a wide range of reflectors, diffusion and scrims to redirect and alter the character and distribution of the light. We use it to light entire scenes, including key, fill and ambience. The result is an efficient, unobtrusive lighting rig that uses very little electricity. It started when I got in touch with my first lighting teacher. We connected immediately, as if only a few weeks had passed. He was surprised at my knowledge of lighting, which came from a completely different background. He talks about lighting formulas as if they were poetry. It's another language, but we are talking about the same thing. His scientific studies show that the wrong lighting conditions can reduce productivity by 30 percent. People get tired, have concentration problems, and stress. I was shocked. I thought about what we're doing with our actors. We ignore that completely. We are doing violence to these actors with our huge lighting equipment - glare, heat and a messy set.' [From the KODAK OnFilm website.]

Founding member of the Lichtakademie Bartenbach, Aldrans [near Innsbruck], Austria. Since 1995 Professor at the Filmakademie Wien [Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien (MDW)]. Guest lecturer at various international film schools, e.g. in Havana, Paris [La Fémis], Berlin [DFFB & HFF Konrad Wolf, Potsdam-Babelsberg], Copenhagen [Den Danske Filmskole] and São Paulo [FAAP].

Married to actress/prod Marika Nicolette Green [1943-]. Is the uncle of actress Eva Green [b. 1980].

Awards: As doph: Camerimage 'Golden Frog Award' nom [2001] for 'La pianiste'; European Film Awards 'European Cinematographer Award' nom [2005] for 'Caché'; ASC Film Award [2009], 'Oscar' AA nom [2009], European Film Awards 'Carlo Di Palma European Cinematographer Award' nom [2009], LAFCA Award 'Best Cinematography' [2009], NYFCC Award 'Best Cinematography' [2009], NSFC Award 'Best Cinematography' [2010], Deutscher Filmpreis 'Beste Kamera/Bildgestaltung' nom [2010] for 'Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte'; Manaki Brothers International Cinematographers' FF 'Special Golden Camera 300 Award' [2012] for Outstanding Contribution to the World Film Art.

As dir: Max Ophüls Award [1985] & Moscow IFF 'Golden Prize' nom [1985] for 'Raffl'.

Website: Christian Berger


Why do you prefer to shoot with film?: The arguments are well known. The first argument is worldwide use without any translation problems. Film captures images with a quality that is higher than ever, high above the digital formats. As far as digital is concerned, it seems stupid to me to use a format that has so many drawbacks. The number of pixels doesn't interest me. I want to have comfort in the handling, and I want to have the shortest path between my eye and what I want to capture - that's it. Everything else - leave me alone! We shot a film in digital HD ['Caché' in 2004]. We had to check the back focus three times a day besides many other troubles! It's unbelievable. We had to tell the inventor of the camera that the viewfinder was inadequate. It's like selling someone a car, and then saying, 'Ah, you want to drive with it, then you will need wheels!' Any financial advantage was gone in the first two weeks, eaten up by delays. Then there is the question of data storage. There is no long-term answer. None. People at the TV stations are spending enormous amounts of money changing every few years to the next format. That's money we could use to create something. Film negative lasts for 100 years. I see old photos taken by my wife's grandmother and they are exquisite. So what are we doing?' [From the KODAK OnFilm website.]


NOTE: There are two filmmakers with the name Christian Berger. The cameraman/director on this page and Christian Berger, a German filmmaker working for Deutsche Welle [DW-TV]. His latest films are the mus doc's 'The Promise of Music' [2007; as co-exec prod; ph: Henning Brümmer] & 'Das Beethoven-Projekt/The Beethoven Project' [2009; as dir; ph: Heiko Rahnenführer].


 

 FILMS

1970

Landleben/Country Living [Christian Berger] s16-35bu/c; exp doc/18m; + prod/ed; the film was shot during 1970-73 and captures Berger's home village Ampass, Tyrol, and the surrounding area and was motivated by the daily disillusion he felt as a young TV cameraman; edited and released in 1995

1974

Der Untergang des Alpenlandes - Part One [Christian Berger] 16mm/c; short/31m; + co-scrpl

1978

Österreichs Städte haben Zeit für Sie [Christian Berger] c; comm doc/?m; + scrpl

1982

Raffl [Christian Berger] s16/c; + prod/co-scrpl

1983

Atemnot [Käthe Kratz] c

1987

Nachsaison/Off Season [Wolfram Paulus] c

1988

Hanna Monster, Liebling [Christian Berger] 16mm-35bu/b&w; + prod/scrpl

1990

Mirakel [Leopold Huber] c

1991

The More I See You [Josef Aichholzer] c

1991

Benny's Video [Michael Haneke] c

1992

Das Auge des Taifun [Paulus Manker] c; mus doc/70m; cph: Joachim Berc, Walter Kindler, Helmut Pirnat, a.o.; released 1994

1993

Mautplatz/Tollgate [Christian Berger] c; + prod/co-scrpl

1993

71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls/Amok/71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance [Michael Haneke] c

1995

Es war doch Liebe? [Wolfgang Glück] c

1996

Ethnische Idyllen/Ethnic Idylls [Christian Berger] c; doc/90m; + scrpl; filmed 1995-97

1998

Gespräch im Gebirg [Peter Stastny] 16mm/c; short/23m

2000

La pianiste/Die Klavierspielerin/The Piano Teacher [Michael Haneke] c; spec vfx: Geoffrey Kleindorfer

2001

März [Klaus Händl] short film project; filmed in 2008 by ph Gerald Kerkletz

2001

Der gläserne Blick/Dead Man's Memories [Markus Heltschl] c; + co-prod

2003

Ne fais pas ça/Don't Do That [Luc Bondy] c

2004

Caché/Hidden/Versteckt [Michael Haneke] HD-to-35mm/c

2004

Seenomaden - Leben mit dem Wind [Christian Berger] c; doc/75m; ph Chile; ph Atlantic & Pacific Ocean: Doris Renoldner & Wolfgang Slanec; filmed 2002-04; released 2005; + scrpl

2007

Disengagement/Désengagement/Hitnatkoot/Trennung [Amos Gitai] c

 

With dir Michael Haneke [right] - "Das weisse Band"

 

2008

Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte/The White Ribbon [Michael Haneke] s35-to-35mm (+ D-Cinema)/b&w (filmed on color negative: KODAK Vision3 500T 5219 & 250D 5207)

2010

Die Blutgräfin/The Blood Countess [Ulrike Ottinger] pre-production

2010

Marika Green & Eva Green - Paris 2010 [Sonia Sieff] c; doc/?m; prod for the photo exposition 'Green: Regards photographiques/Photographic Sights - Images 1894-2010' in Galerie Catherine Houard, Paris (November-December 2010)

2011

Ludwig II [Peter Sehr & Marie Noëlle] HD (ARRI ALEXA Plus) scope/c; uwph: Christian Wehrle; also a version for TV

2012

A nagy füzet/Das große Heft/Le grand cahier/The Notebook [János Szász] HD (ARRI ALEXA Plus/scope)/c

2014

By the Sea [Angelina Jolie] HD/c

2015

Die Nacht der tausend Stunden/The Night of a Thousand Hours [Virgil Widrich] HD/c

 

 TELEVISION

1979

Arnulf Rainer - Körperkunst [Herbert Brödl] doc/52m

1980

Signorina Mafalda [Herbert Brödl & Cornelia Bretthauer] tvm

1981

Heimkehr nach Deutschland [Eberhard Pieper] tvm

1981

Der Weg ins Freie [Karin Brandauer] 2-part tvm

1982

Das Dorf [Claudia Holldack] 3-part miniseries: 'Nächste Woche ist Frieden', 'Kalter Sommer' & 'Was der Mensch säet'

1983

? [Claudia Holldack] 10-part doc series; filmed 1983-95

1984

Die Abschiebung [Marianne Lüdcke] tvm/16mm

1985

Die wilden Kinder [Christian Berger] tvm

1991

Rabenmutter [Christian Berger] tvm; + prod

2004

Mein Mörder [Elisabeth Scharang] tvm

 

 FILMS & TELEVISION AS DIRECTOR

1970

Landleben/Country Living [exp doc; + prod/ph/ed] see Films

1974

Der Untergang des Alpenlandes - Part One [short; + co-scrpl/ph] see Films

1978

Österreichs Städte haben Zeit für Sie [comm doc; + scrpl/ph] see Films

1982

Raffl [feature; + prod/co-scrpl/ph] see Films

1985

Die wilden Kinder [tvm; + ph] see Television

1988

Hanna Monster, Liebling [feature; + prod/scrpl/ph] see Films

1991

Rabenmutter [tvm; + prod/ph] see Television

1993

Mautplatz/Tollgate [feature; + ph] see Films

1996

Ethnische Idyllen/Ethnic Idylls [doc; + scrpl/ph] see Films

2004

Seenomaden - Leben mit dem Wind [doc; + scrpl/cph] see Films