Austrian director Michael Haneke was awarded the Grand Prix du Jury at the 54th Cannes Film Festival for his film The Piano Teacher. In addition, Isabelle Huppert and Benoit Magimel received the best actor awards.
Haneke's film, critically acclaimed by most of the key critics in Cannes, was rumoured to be on the short list of possible
Cannes winners immediately after its presentation. Michael Haneke's The Piano Teacher. is based on a novel by Elfriede Jelinek. Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert), a woman in her early 40s, teaches piano at the
Vienna Conservatory. She lives with her tyrannical mother (Annie Girardot) in a hermetically sealed world which is characterized
by dependency and mixed feelings of love and hate. Erika escapes only on her regular visits to porn cinemas and peepshows.
Her sexuality is an affair of morbid voyerism and masochistic self-mutilation. Erika and life travel seperate paths. Until
one day, one of her students (Benoit Magimel) gets it into his head to seduce her. Michael Haneke on The Piano Teacher: "This is a psychodrama without the explanations typical of a psychodrama. I've always avoided making film versions of literary
works because the characters' behavior is analyzed and justified in most classic novels. Elfriede Jelinek doesn't do that.
She provides a list of psychological realities but no justifications."
The Piano Teacher produced by WEGA Film, Vienna
Coproducer: MK2, Paris. World Sales are handled by MK2, Paris. Jessica Hausners Lovely Rita (produced by Coop 99 and Prisma Film, Vienna, World Sales handled by The Coproduction Office, Berlin) which premiered
in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Festival and by Ruth Maders Null Deficit (made at Vienna's Filmakademie) which was presented in the Cinefondation-Competition contributed to the strong Austrian presence
at the 54th Cannes Film Festival.