St. Moritz Art Film Festival


Albert Oehlen, Oliver Hirschbiegel and Ben Becker, The Painter

2020 Colors PG GER - EN 95' 30"


Out of Competition

Under the direction of legendary director Oliver Hirschbiegel (‘Downfall’ / ‘Der Unter-gang’), Actor Ben Becker (Key Credits) on screen impersonates the famous contemporary painter Albert Oehlen and re-creates a painting that Oehlen himself and in parallel is creating step by step in the background, with the actor improvising the process in front of the camera. The finished on-screen painting is an original ‘Oehlen’ on which the artist himself never laid hands. The off screen blueprint painting was destroyed after principal shooting had finished. Originally planned to be a performative statement the projects developed into a fully fledged feature film of 92 minutes, crossing formal boundaries and questioning the meaning of the creative process and the struggle for authenticity on various levels.

The Painter follows the artist/actor as he is struggling and suffering along this process with us watching in joyful despair and what might happen next until the white canvas has turned into a finished painting. The outcome is a one-man rollercoaster that appears to be a documentary but in fact is a staged and guided improvisation with the ‘real’ process happening behind the camera. The Painter is a constant flow of the artist’s journey with elements of farce and comedy topped with emotional moments of truth….in front of and behind the camera and leaving it up to us to decide what is real and/or authentic. Being one of the most significant, contemporary painters, Albert Oehlen’s approach is complete refusal of the common art circus. In its own way the Film reflects this very stance. Likewise, it questions the purpose of obsolete thinking patterns created by white straight male artists of a certain age that have dominated the art world for centuries. It explores the idea of authenticity & original and subsequently the concept of copyright and ownership which manifests the very basis of capitalism.

Albert Oehlen, Oliver Hirschbiegel and Ben Becker, The Painter