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Ruth Beckermann

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Name  Ruth Beckermann
Role  Filmmaker
Education  School of Visual Arts

Ruth Beckermann Ruth Beckermann

Movies  American Passages, East of War
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Ruth Beckermann (born 1952, Vienna) is a Jewish Austrian filmmaker and writer.


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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 or the Cinéma du Réel Festival in Paris). Her films Paper Bridge and East of War have won several major awards.

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Life and career

Ruth Beckermann Ruth Beckermann

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

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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. 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 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 and The Steelhammer Out there on The Grass 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, 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 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 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 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, she follows the traces of Elisabeth of Bavaria. In 2001, homemad(e) 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. was shown in festivals in Paris' (Cinema du Reel,), Vienna (Viennale 06) in Buenos Aires and Chicago and became a success with audiences.

In 2011, American Passages, premiered in the competition at the Cinéma du Réel.

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

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


  • 2000: Manés Serber Prize
  • 2015: Österreichisches Ehrenzeichen für Wissenschaft und Kunst (Austrian Decoration for Science and Art)
  • Filmography

  • 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.


    Ruth Beckermann Wikipedia