Michael Berger - A Hysteria

Depicting the biography of a corrupt banker poses a cinematic dilemma. How can the intentions of an individual, systematic contexts and historical eventualities be brought into harmony? Thomas Fürhapter´s nearly one-hour film Michael Berger – A Hysteria turns this problem outward by not covering up the moment of speculation. The subject of the film, Austrian investment banker Michael Berger, who became a dollar millionaire through a risky hedge fund, remains a chimera – an absent individual who also cannot be captured through his crime. There is not even a single picture of him to see, and all that is left of his influence are the impressive sums that are then actually missing from the local banks at some time. In six attempts, the film tries to draw together a case from the traces of Michael Berger´s undertakings. It traverses his path, starting from the supposed end, Berger´s non-appearance before an American court: from this emerges the outline of a rise-and-fall story that extends from the narrow borders of Austrian working worlds through to Wall Street. Fürhapter´s formal procedure is reminiscent of works by Gerhard Benedikt Friedl: there is no correspondence between picture and sound that could be of major importance in solving the case. While the factual, off-screen narrator randomly mixes fact and anecdote, and with that alone, undermines a realization process, the pictures, in their function as scenes, remain as speculative as Berger´s financial capers. The path of the banker thus takes on a certain sense of being random, seems exchangeable, perhaps even symptomatic. In a haunting way, Fürhapter thereby intensifies suspicions that the scammer is simply meant to provide a diversion from the much more extensive, scamming system.

(Dominik Kamalzadeh)

Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt

Orig. Title
Michael Berger - Eine Hysterie
50 min
Documentary, Essay
Orig. Language
German, English
Thomas Fuerhapter
Chris Weiß
Lukas Böck
Thomas Fuerhapter
Sound Design
Lukas Böck
Dramaturgical Advisor
Dieter Pichler
Executive Producer
Markus Glaser
Thomas Fuerhapter
Additional camera
Manuel Zauner
Joe Remick, Paul Kraker
Production Manager
Herbert Bauernebel, Julia Überreiter
Supported by
bm:ukk, Land Salzburg, Land Oberösterreich, Wien Kultur, Stadt Salzburg
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate
25 fps
Festivals (Selection)
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Leipzig - Dok Leipzig - Int. Festival für Dok.- u. Animationsfilm
Kassel - Dokumentarfilm- & Videofest
Marseille - FIDMarseille International Film Festival
Montréal - RIDM Rencontre Int. du Film Documentaire (Special Mention)
Jihlava Documentary Film Festival (Silver Eye Award 2010: Special Mention Medium Lenght)
Marseille - RISC Rencontres Int. Sciences et Film
Split - Festival of New Film and Video
Paris - Hors Pistes Festival au Centre Pompidou