In this dox, there isn’t that much of a waltz, although the author’s notorious protagonist conducts a brass band. As Beckermann is trying to underline, the fact that the former Secretary-General of the UN, Kurt Waldheim, has become the president of Austria, is at the same time both a triumph of a perverted political rhetoric and a denunciation of the Austrian nation’s relationship with its history. This is why the author’s dilemma is: to document or to demonstrate/protest? To accept a certain stance by taking part in a political action, or to document it, keeping to the margins. She decides on both, playing on historical reconstruction and fact verification. The media described Waldheim as a “man who looked as though he was trying to embrace his people”; yet, they forgot that he was complicit in deporting a quarter of the Solun population, as well as his medal from Pavelić which he had received for his services in the Kozara Offensive in 1942 as a member of Nazi units. Beckermann underlies those facts in her documentary essay. A TV journalist best described the blockage of national consciousness, asking: “What are you capable of doing / What can you do with 555.000 registered Nazis?” This is why the past in Beckermann’s film returns relentlessly, as a product of repressed history and historic guilt.
Ruth Beckermann was born in Vienna, in 1952. She studied journalism and art history. Her films Nach Jerusalem (1991), Jenseits des Krieges (1997) and Homemad(e) (2001) were successfully screened at numerous festivals. In her previous film, Die Getraumten (2016), she dealt with the complex relationship between the Romanian poet Paul Celan and Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann, whose father was member of the Nazi Party. Her most recent documentary, The Waldheim Waltz, once again returns to the ghosts of Nazism.