Michael Haneke is a clinician of human cruelties. The anti-sentimetalist director chillingly highlighted tensions between the the French bourgeoisie and the country’s North African immigrant population — with the oft-denied 1961 Seine River Massacre looming beneath its characters’ interactions — in Caché. In The White Ribbon, Haneke explored small acts of cruelty among the residents in a small pre-World War I northern German town to seemingly hypothesize on the seeds of Nazism. Now, the director with an eye for how the micro becomes macro is making a film in which the refugee crisis similarly seems to be an underlying theme.
The film is titled Happy End which, knowing Haneke — who titled a movie about the calculated murder of a family Funny Games — likely indicates the opposite. It will reunite Isabel Huppert and Jean Louis Trintignant, who played father and daughter in Haneke’s last film, Amour. Deadline reports that the film will take place in French port city Calais, which frequently made the news in 2015 as a spot where refugees and other migrants wait in encampments before attempting to move from France to the U.K.
Deadline emphasizes that one of the film’s themes is immigration, but that this is not its focus. The website also notes that Haneke recently participated in “For a Thousand Lives, Be Human,” an appeal to the EU that brought together filmmakers and other film professionals, entreating them to “take immediate action to place…values” such as “human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights… at the core of their asylum politics.”
A spokesperson for Agence France-Presse said of the upcoming film, “It’s a Haneke film, so it will of course be about family. We’ll recognize his world, with excessive characters.”